In November of 2015, I was approached by Mary Ross at the TranQool Duck Syndrome event. Mary is the professor at the Rise Asset Development Youth Small Business Program, at the Rotman School of Management. The program is designed to help young entrepreneurs, all with lived mental health experience write a business plan for their start up ideas using the Rotman Designworks curriculum and Mary invited me to join them.
Over a very intense two months, our class of 20 met, collaborated, got excited and then threw it all out the window and started again. Yesterday, we gave our final business pitches and a couple times I teared up at how far some of my new friends had come, and knowing how hard they had worked to get there.
By presentation day, we had a concert promoter, a youth consciousness movement, a circus school for rural kids, a tutoring service for students with disabilities and a travel company for new explorers on a budget. Many of the pitches shared a strong desire to give back to their communities, just like Rise does. My classmates all wanted to pay it forward... on steroids.
My proposed business is called Polar Wellness Consulting. I will provide strategies for workplace mental health, tested in the real world. Polar will provide workshops to fellow workplaces around the GTA on how best to deal with mental health issues on their teams; with proactive solutions and also advice on how to move forward with better strategies if the team has struggled in the past. Not like other dry, sensitivity trainings at all, Polar focusses on a conversational style where all concepts will be explained through examples I have personally experienced at work or school. Follow up on twitter @PolarWrkplaceMH
Now we have our business plans and we've our pitches, it's time to go make it work in the real world!