Toronto entrepreneurs share top tips for new business owners

Nov 15 2019, 11:49 am

As it turns out, a 22-year-old makeup mogul and a pro-basketball star have a lot in common.

On October 16, American Express Canada united entrepreneurs and media in Toronto to celebrate the launch of the new American Express Business Edge Card with an interactive event hosted by television personality and sports broadcaster, Kate Beirness.

Transforming the space at 100 Bloor Street West, the evening of storytelling featured intimate and inspiring conversations with noteworthy business owners.

To mark the card’s launch, Amex Canada created a new marketing campaign rooted in showcasing real, small business owners and celebrating their passion. The multi-tiered campaign includes a mix of digital content, online video, social media, and social influencer engagement, with partnerships with over 40 business owners across Canada.

 

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Several of the featured business owners were present at the launch event. These include Fred VanVleet, pro basketball player and founder of FVV Shop; Grant van Gameren, Toronto-based restaurateur; and Taylor Frankel, co-founder of beauty brand Nudestix.

At the start of the event’s Q&A portion, Amex Canada shared the digital marketing materials created for the campaign – which had been kept tightly under wraps until then. Following, Beirness moderated the discussion, where VanVleet, van Gameren, and Frankel shared their unique business journeys.

VanVleet launched FVV Shop, an athletic apparel company, back in 2018. “It fit my lifestyle. ‘Bet on yourself’ [the brand tagline] was born out of what I was going through at the time. I’ve always been passionate about fashion and design. I wanted to diversify and didn’t want to be stuck in a box of being just an athlete and I’ve been pretty lucky to be so successful.” Naturally, the initiative hasn’t been without its learning experiences.

“Starting a business costs money,” said VanVleet. “You got to keep the long term goal in mind. Business is not so simple, so you have to take the losses as lessons and keep thinking of ways to keep on moving forward.”

His advice to up-and-coming entrepreneurs? “Scale your success based on your own personal growth. I think believing in yourself and being passionate about it is the first step,” he said.

VanVleet and Frankel share a few notable similarities (aside from being successful entrepreneurs); both cite travel as the best reward for the hard work, and call their mothers the most influential person in their lives. At just 17, Frankel and her 15-year-old sister Ally – with the guidance of their beauty industry veteran mom, Jenny Frankel – founded the now coveted, less-is-more beauty brand Nudestix.

Frankel, now 22, told Daily Hive that, starting out, she wishes she’d focused more on networking. “At 17 you don’t understand what that is, but now, I’m very aware of the community I built – whether it be fellow entrepreneurs or private equity – of people that are doing amazing things that empower and inspire me. You never know where those relationships will take you in the future.”

At the end of the day, however, she has no regrets. “As cliché as it sounds, I don’t think I would have done anything differently; you don’t know what you don’t know,” she said.

 

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Frankel advises future business owners to find a “really niche white space” within the market.  “One of the things that separated us was having a rational and an emotive reason for creating a product. It’s not just about a product but a message that connects to consumers,” she said.

So, where does the new American Express Business Edge Card come into play? Essentially, the credit card is designed to back today’s entrepreneurs in the way they do business, with entrepreneur-friendly features like enhanced earn rates on a variety of categories where business owners are spending every day.

Cardmembers earn 3x the points for every $1 in eligible purchases on eats and drinks, rides and gas, and office supplies and electronics. Plus, of course, they get one point for every $1 spent on all other Business Edge Card purchases.

Bit by the entrepreneurial bug? Head to their website here to learn more about the new American Express Business Edge Card.