Our Startup programs are designed to help business owners who are ready to take their business to market. We do this through peer-to-peer engagements, one-on-one business coaching, and entrepreneurial training and resources with industry-expert mentors.
What makes our mentors so qualified? They’ve been there. They’ve lived through the challenges, thrived in success and learned from their experiences.
We recently caught up with one of our mentors in the North Okanagan, Andrew Klingel to find out more about what makes him uniquely qualified.
I’ve been lucky to have great mentors throughout my career. Early on, I was exposed to big organizations, big processes and clients across many different industries within a short period of time. Working for larger companies is like a crash course in professionalism. There were always people that I could call to ask questions or learn from. That was one reason I got into teaching; you can play that role with students. And now I can do the same in the community working with Accelerate Okanagan. I’ve been honoured to have the opportunity to help other entrepreneurs in their journey.
I’ve always enjoyed building and creating but I began my career in a management consulting firm, connecting with big companies like TD, Telus, and General Motors. In 2000, I had the opportunity to join Workbrain Inc., a technology startup. It wasn’t the best time to be leaving a stable consulting job for a software company. It was a crazy decision, but I believed the company had a good idea and I wanted to get in early so that I could help build it. As the Director of Business Development, I was lucky enough to have it grow quite considerably over 4 years and to really see technology and new ventures start.
I’m inspired by the small businesses that won’t become huge businesses, as well as those with the opportunity for large growth. I also always see the potential in people; I’ve seen that in the technology businesses I’ve worked with, I see that in the people I’ve hired, and I see that in my students. Now I see it in mentoring—in the founders and the businesses. I am motivated to support people who are pursuing their dreams.
SUCCESS ISN’T AN AWARD
You’d think my proudest moments were getting the awards or the success numbers, but it’s more about when you see things really come together—when you can see someone benefiting from the work that you do. Whether that’s watching my students graduate and start their careers, seeing the work my Enactus students do out in the world or working with entrepreneurs who are able to grow their business.
BRINGING PASSIONS TOGETHER
Using entrepreneurship to address social challenges, to me, is a match made in heaven. I’ve always been drawn to mentoring social enterprises and those organizations that have the ability to connect with communities. In 2001, I co-founded the Framework Foundation to find a way to connect young people with volunteer opportunities that could utilize their various expertise. In the North Okanagan, I’ve been fortunate to participate in the Enterprize Challenge and Shuswap Launch-a-preneur programs and see some amazing people flourish in those environments.
IT TAKES A COMMUNITY
You can start a business anywhere with anything. In the Okanagan, we’re lucky to have so much community support and access to so many resources. To be a smaller community and have our innovation centres and local business support organizations is incredible. The community comes out to support entrepreneurs, they want to see them succeed. That’s what makes the Okanagan a particularly great place to start a business.
In addition to being an Executive in Residence with Accelerate Okanagan, Andrew is also a teacher at Okanagan College. Connect with Andrew or meet our other Startup EiRs. Learn more about Accelerate Okanagan’s Startup program.
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