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  • NORTH FORGE SMARTPARK

    WINNIPEG

    CEO: Joelle Foster

    441 – 100 Innovation Drive
    Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 6G2• P: 204-262-6400

  • North Forge | East

    PINAWA

    President: Shane Li

    24 Aberdeen Avenue
    Pinawa, Manitoba R0E 1L0 • P: 204-753-5170

  • Fabrication Lab

    WINNIPEG

    Vice-President: Marney Stapley

    125 Adelaide Street
    Winnipeg, Manitoba R3A 0W4 • P: 204-799-2033

  • North Forge | North

    THE PAS

    University College of the North
    436-7th Street East, The Pas, Manitoba R9A 1M7
    (204) 623-0311

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Fueling innovation through mentorship

North Forge Mentorship Network

With an 83% survival rate for early-stage mentored entrepreneurs, mentorship is an important factor to include in your business strategy. When driven by the entrepreneur, the mentoring relationship can be long and fruitful. Understanding what a mentor is, their role and qualities, and assessing a good mentor/mentee fit will help set up foundational expectations for a healthy relationship. On the flip side, becoming a mentor has personal, community, and entrepreneurial benefits which can positively illuminate one’s career path.

Understanding the crucial role that mentorship plays in building a business, North Forge has created the North Forge Mentor Network. This Mentor Network is open to startups within the North Forge Founders Program incubation stage (Ascent). There are  50+ mentors in the Mentor Network. These mentors have a variety of skills ranging from product development (either tech or prototyping), finance, marketing, human resources to those who have built and run successful startups, and everything in between. 

Mentors encourage self-reliance, leadership and help entrepreneurs reflect on their learnings in a trusting non-directive manner. Fundamentally, mentorship is about trust and mutual respect. As a mentee, trust is needed in the mentor’s expert abilities to guide you through the entrepreneurial rollercoaster of finance, human resources, skills assessments, and government regulations. As a mentor, you trust your mentee to be energetic about their business, be willing to follow through with guidance and be willing to listen to advice that may counter their existing ideas or assumptions. This trust helps build the respect needed on both sides when communicating thoughts and courses of action throughout the relationship and beyond.

Joelle Foster, CEO of North Forge, spoke about mentorship with CTV Winnipeg and defined it as a “trusting, and sustained relationship geared toward supporting a Founder’s goals for business growth and personal development.” Mentors will ask questions that get to the root of the problem that the founders are facing to help the founder gain insights and ideas. They are a sounding board for possible solutions. They help reveal blind spots that many founders may have about their idea or business, and provide realistic optimism when addressing entrepreneurial challenges and working towards solutions.

Mentors have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with the understanding that they are in a guidance role and not a tactical role with the founder. They are not directive in their approach, instead using rationale driven guidance and constructive criticism to help the founder think through the problem to derive the solution themselves. Assumptions won’t be made about a mentee’s needs; instead, mentors will dig deep to find the real information behind the mentee’s reasoning or decisions and then provide the appropriate guidance. 

“Digitally-enabled productivity gains have accelerated the 4th industrial revolution, and there’s no going back,” notes Joelle Foster. This major change has founders looking for mentors to help them navigate their industry in this new world. Justin Phillips, Vice President and Co-Founder of Carbon Block, who is in North Forge’s Founders Program, notes that “you need to align with skills you don’t have; otherwise you won’t succeed.” Having a mentor with expertise that is outside your toolkit helps you excel. They help you feel more comfortable and confident in those areas where your knowledge is not as deep.

Beyond being an expert in their field, a mentor provides support and boosts motivation through encouragement, recognition, and constructive feedback. Those with high emotional intelligence, are good listeners, non-judgmental, value diverse perspectives, and use their network to find solutions are highly sought after. Being genuinely interested in the people they are mentoring and honouring the diverse needs of the founder and their business are also key qualities to scout for when looking for a mentor. 

There is much value to a mentorship relationship on both sides. The mentee receives business growth advice and a support system to guide them through their entrepreneurial journey, while a mentor may feel the vibrant enthusiasm the founders pour into their businesses. “You can’t help but feel energized by them,” exclaims Rosalie Harms who is the Department Chair of the University of Winnipeg’s Business and Administration faculty and mentor to Carbon Block. Learning how to convey ideas and an appropriate course of action using different approaches that are right for the entrepreneur and to which they find valuable, helps with interpersonal professional development. “I’m learning more about, not necessarily my technical skill set, but my human skill set,” Rosalie notes. 

Feeling the sense of accomplishment is present on both sides. The mentee feels this in their business idea and the mentor can bask in the glow of the mentee’s achievements. Fundraising, expanding the customer base, and receiving industry awards are all milestones that both enjoy reaping the benefits. Rosalie enjoys guiding tech founders as she sees them as not much different than other startups in that they are trying to acquire capital, do market penetration, and put in  good internal controls and processes. “I’m really energized by working with entrepreneurs and the things that they’re doing and it’s exciting!” Justin remembers their most beneficial mentorship moment. “We spent a morning, early afternoon, and a great lunch having a planning session that we would not have done because we would have found something else that would have kept us busy. That set us up for the next couple of months.” They strategized many scenarios and ended up needing to pivot. “Had we not had that planning session, we would have not been able to quickly turn and take another direction … In the end, it was the best direction we could have taken to obtain funding.” Justin said as he beamed from ear to ear.

If you were fortunate to have had a mentor throughout your career, or wish you had one, imagine the outstanding role you can play in someone’s life. Here is your opportunity to “pay it forward” and help someone by sharing your expertise and your experiences – apply today

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Supporters

North Forge Technology Exchange partners with PCL Construction Inc.

PCL Construction Inc.

From small renovations to complex billion dollar projects; from modular construction, to advanced digital technologies, to cutting-edge sustainability, PCL has you covered.

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North Forge has partnered with 6P Marketing

6P Marketing

6P Marketing is your collaborative marketing agency, working with you to achieve your goals.

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Bell MTS

Bell MTS is part of Canada’s largest telecommunications company, providing Manitobans with Mobile phone, TV, high speed Internet, and Home phone service.

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Thompson Dorfman Sweatman

At Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP (TDS), we are devoted to serving our valued clients. Our collegial workplace fosters greater teamwork, responsiveness and communication, providing better results for clients. TDS is Manitoba’s largest independent law firm.

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Wawanesa

Wawanesa works exclusively with insurance brokers across Canada, offering home, auto, farm and commercial business products.

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Bit Space Development

Bit Space Development Ltd. is an interactive digital media studio that specializes in creating innovative learning experiences for the classroom and workplace. We work with educators and industry professionals from around the world to develop effective solutions for education and training using cutting edge digital media technologies.

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Princess Auto

For more than 85 years, Princess Auto has been supplying trade professionals, home mechanics or people who simply love building things with the tools and equipment they need to figure it out – whatever that “it” may be. With a unique assortment of tools, equipment and products, ranging from hydraulics to welding, Princess Auto complements the home improvement sector rather than competing with it.

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Bockstael

For over 100 years the Bockstael name has been synonymous with construction in Manitoba. From the humble beginnings of a Belgian carpenter, to the fourth generation of family ownership, building is in our blood. We pride ourselves on world-class innovation and a client-first approach to doing business. This is our commitment to serving the province we choose to call home for the next 100 years — and beyond.

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Stu Clark Centre for Entreprenuership

The Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship (SCCE) is here to support entrepreneurial activities across the entire University of Manitoba campus. In addition to supporting students at the I.H. Asper School of Business we also support students from ALL faculties across the University of Manitoba – Fort Garry and Bannatyne Campus including: Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Education and more!

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SevenOaks School Division

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Maples Met School

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LGD Pinawa

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Canadian Nuclear Laboratories

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Canadian National Energy Alliance

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North Forge Technology Exchange

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SEED - Altona

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Portage Regional Economic Development

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Morden & District Chamber of Commerce

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Morden Community Development Corp

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Community Futures Heartland

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Carman

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Access Credit Union

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North Forge East

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Community Futures Winnipeg Rivers

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Barkman Concrete Ltd.

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Pinawa Community Development Corporation

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Canadian Nuclear Laboratories

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Canadian National Energy Alliance

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Western Economic Diversification Canada

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Government of Canada

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City of Winnipeg

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University of Manitoba

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Fabbaloo

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Red River College

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Manitoba Government

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les.net

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