Former Olympic luge athlete Jeff Christie pitched an idea for a brewery focused on genuine lagers at the second annual Global Summit of Leaders

RRU hosts future leaders at second annual summit

The leaders of tomorrow get advice from established entrepreneurs

You have a great idea for a business, you’ve got the knowhow to run it and you’re eager to get started.

But what do you need to do to make it happen?

That question was addressed at the second annual Global Summit of Leaders, held last Wednesday (Aug. 22) at Royal Roads University (RRU).

The summit brings together 100 CEOs, private equity investors and business leaders from five countries to teach young entrepreneurs.

Dean Lindal, League Financial Partners vice president of global business development, is an RRU commerce alumni and organizer of the event. The summit is a great opportunity for the business leaders of tomorrow to meet successful veterans and glean vital information off of them, he said. “It’s important to have mentors,” Lindal said. “People who are 15 or 20 years older than you, that have kind of been there, done that, and they can share experiences and words of wisdom.”

Among the many successful businesspeople that worked with students to educate and inspire were Jon Swartz, a technology reporter for USA Today, and Lori Stewart, who helped build eBay Canada.

One fun part of the summit was a Dragon’s Den style pitch session.

Five groups of RRU students and recent grads were given the opportunity to bring their business ideas to the pros to get advice and potentially make some important connections.

Among those pitching was ex-Olympic luge athlete Jeff Christie. A resident of Calgary, Christie is a recent RRU commerce grad and a two-time Olympian, having competed in both the Turin and Vancouver games. Knowing that his career as an athlete has an endpoint, Christie has turned to his second love: beer.

Christie pitched an idea for a microbrewery that would focus on producing a real lager, something not often found in Canada. He explained that ales and lagers have different yeasts and different brewing processes, but most lagers available here are actually made using an ale brewing process, which affects quality.

“I spent a lot of time travelling through Germany on sports teams … and kind of fell in love with the beer there,” Christie said. “I just thought it would be a great idea to pitch it.”

Michael Munro and Miles Garvey are on the verge of graduating and are hoping to launch their business idea, Career Ever After.

The concept is to build a job search website, inspired by dating websites, that focuses as much on culture and values – of both employer and employee – as it does on qualifications.

“If that little purple monster from Monster.com and eHarmony had a love child, that’s us,” Munro said.

The young entrepreneurs expressed similar sentiments as Lindal as they talked about what they need to take the next step in developing their business.

“I think we just need commitment and maybe possible mentorship to get us through to the next phase,” said Garvey.

“Passion,” Munro said, is the key to success. “If you see something that fascinates you or that you can obsess over and be passionate about, that’s what’s going to drive any idea forward.”

These young entrepreneurs are the real key to the future of the economy, Lindal said.

The League VP said statistics show 80 per cent of all new job creation is generated by companies less than five years old.

“People are in the mindset that it’s going to be the big companies,” he said. “But it’s wrong. Unless you’re cultivating that underlying entrepreneurial economy I think communities are going to be in trouble.”

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com