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Can I Be One?

Episode 2

July 12, 2023

Yes, you can. Time to get over your imposter syndrome! There are many obstacles to being an entrepreneur from lack of support from friends and family to real systemic issues.
Founders share their stories of courage and the path they took to become their own boss. Anong Beam is an Indigenous woman from Manitoulin Island who took a hobby and turned it into her a million-dollar company. Taylor Lindsay-Noel was a professional athlete who was forced to make a change when a career-ending injury got in her way. Today, her teas are among Oprah’s Favourites. Plus, three Indigenous women are the first women in their Guatemalan communities to go to post-secondary school – with no money to get them there. Their solution: start a food stand.
View Transcript
Can I be an entrepreneur?

Taylor Lindsay-Noel: People would always ask me like, “Oh, is this like your family's business or are you taking over a family business?” And it made me second guess, like, why don't people believe that I could do this? Am I not doing it right?


Deidra Clarke: Okay, you're going to need money, you're going to need sponsorship, you're going to need the actual hoodie material, and you're going to have to actually do the hard work. And I'm like, well, at 16, this really isn't going to be happening. So, I stopped.


Katie Sampson: I experienced raw emotion like I've never felt before. I get choked up just talking about it. I was crying, the girls were crying. Their families were crying. Everyone was there to witness it and there was not a dry eye.


[Founders Drive theme music]


Katie: Welcome to the Founders Drive. On this episode, we're asking the question, Can I be one? Can I be an entrepreneur? What do you guys think?


Andrew: I think there are many obstacles to being an entrepreneur: lack of support from friends and family and real systemic issues to.


Deidra: Time is also a factor. Who was I at 16 to believe I could do school full-time and tackle starting a small business?


Tammy: There's also money. Access to money. The risk of losing it all. Balancing that risk for you and your family, if you have one, and just knowing what to do.


Katie: Andrew, you started your café, Drinks and Dragons, just before the pandemic. What doubts did you have?


Andrew: I was full of doubts. I took an internship on entrepreneurship at the Town of Ajax, and the night before my interview, I couldn't sleep at all. Eventually, I decided to start working in cafes, studying them, and I trained at roasteries for four years before I could feel comfortable enough to start my business. When I finally tried to write my business plan, it took me so long I just didn't feel ready.


Tammy: My story is kind of the opposite of that. After losing my job because of the pandemic, I didn't have time to have doubts. I just needed to make money so when I was approached by someone within MLM – multi-level marketing – to join a team, I put everything I had into it. I didn't have a plan. I didn't know what I was going to do. I just knew I needed to help support my family. Within months, I was recognized as one of the top sellers in Canada. I had a team working under me. We met all kinds of goals. I didn't even stop to think whether I could be one. I just had to do it.


Deidra: I didn't have a family to take care of. I was only 16 but I was an ambitious teenager. I'm someone who could start something but hope that someone else would develop it or take it on away from me, and everyone else my age was just starting YouTube channels. That was their small business. And I looked at them and I was like, well, that's not what I want to do. But you know what I did? I created a YouTube channel and I posted one little video and I couldn't see myself starting a business. There would be money management issues, resources, networking, lots of things that made me question whether I could do it.


Katie: Andrew, you met someone who faced almost all of these challenges. I know this interview really impacted you. Can you tell us a bit about her?


Andrew: For sure. When I met Anong Beam, I knew we needed to share her story. She's the founder and owner of Beam Paints on Manitoulin Island. Anong is an Indigenous woman who uses traditional methods she learned from her father to create natural paints. We do something called pre-interviews to find out about people and their stories before we actually record the interviews. I was so inspired and energized when I hung up the phone after that first call that I had to message her group chat. For days I was lit up thinking about our talk, so I was happy when we finally got the chance to interview her.


Katie: I see you were really touched by this interview. I had a similar experience when I went to Guatemala in February. We heard about three young Mayan women living in a rural village in Guatemala called Las Arrugas. Our plan was initially just to interview them over Zoom, but when we learned they were starting a French fry stand to raise money to go to university, there was an opportunity for us to give back.


Andrew: We supported them with business coaching and a bit of funding, along with three laptops from our community partner, the Venture Development Institute, that you got to hand deliver, Katie. How did that happen?


Katie: Well, I was going to Guatemala on a trip with Durham College to volunteer at a high school in Las Arrugas to teach media and storytelling. That's where I met Glenda, Gladys and Heidy.


[Sound of street and crowd noise mixed with music]


Katie: Las Arrugas is about a five hour bus trip northeast of Guatemala City. The streets are narrow and winding. Children are running around playing, laughing and kicking around soccer balls. Concrete boxes with tin roofs that are separated by dirt roads and palm trees make up humble homes for families. In this community, it is common for children to go to school, but around the sixth grade, young women often drop out to take on a very traditional role. At such a young age, they often become housewives and mothers.


[Sound of chatter among children]


On a previous trip, students and faculty from Durham College met Glenda, Gladys and Heidy. At the time, they were still studying in high school. - rare for women their age in this community. When Founders Drive heard that these three brilliant young women wanted to start a French fry stand to pay for university, even more rare, we knew we needed to help. I got the chance to travel with Durham College to their community this past February. On my trip, I had the pleasure of hand delivering three laptops that were provided by our podcast supporter and partner, Venture Development Institute.


[Katie – speaking at ceremony in Guatemala: And I know that, you have put in a lot of work to be where you are today. And go to university, even though it is far away as Noé mentioned. [We] are really honoured to be able to raise the money and find the people to donate these laptops to make your lives easier and have a successful education.]


My trip was phenomenal. I experienced raw emotion like I've never felt before. I get choked up just talking about it. I was crying. The girls were crying. Their families were crying. Everyone was there to witness it and there was not a dry eye.


[Katie – speaking at ceremony in Guatemala: Woo! Congratulations! Aww!]


[Sound of community members speaking in Spanish]


Katie: These laptops will do more than help them run a business. They will also allow these young women to do schoolwork from home rather than walking an hour to the closest coffee shop to use community computers. Overall, the laptops will genuinely allow Glenda, Gladys and Heidy to study like any other university student would.


[Speaking in Spanish, Heidy thanks the Founders Drive and Durham College team.]


Katie: Heidy was especially emotional during the ceremony and even took a moment to thank us and Durham College for the work that we have done with them, including coaching them on how to start and run their business. Heidy’s parents were skeptical of her continuing her education. Her mother, after all, married as a teenager and became the housewife the community expected her to be. Seeing her daughter take her education so seriously has made Heidy’s mother more supportive and actually proud of all that her daughter has been able to accomplish. Glenda, Gladys and Heidy are so motivated by their futures they've made it their mission to inspire others in their community to stay with their education and not be pressured into the stereotypes that they have seen their whole lives.



Andrew: Wow. That's incredible. I don't think they're just inspiring people in their community. They're inspiring us, too. We'll catch up with you again in our next episode to see where they're at with their business and in school.




Taylor Lindsay-Noel: I always say there's so much life after tragedy. And I think and I would hope that my story proves that.


Katie: That's Taylor, Lindsay-Noel. Her business Cup of Té is one of Oprah's favourite things.


Andrew: She was training for the Olympics in gymnastics and her coach asked her to do a risky move. She didn't want to do it, but she listened to her coach. She was successful the first time. Then he asked her to do it again. On her second attempt, she fell, injured herself, and now she's paralyzed. Here's her story of overcoming multiple barriers to start an incredibly successful company.


[Sound of steam machine in a café]


Taylor Lindsay-Noel: Well, my name is Taylor Lindsay-Noel:. I'm 29, from Toronto, Ontario, and I am an entrepreneur in every sense of the word. I'm the founder and CEO of Cup of Té Luxury Loose-Leaf Teas, Cup of Té Cafe, and I am a social media influencer for the disability and accessibility niche.


Andrew: Today, she's at her cafe in North York. A steady flow of regulars stop by to get their daily drink. Entrepreneurship wasn't Taylor's first plan. She was an athlete aiming for the highest levels of competition.


Taylor Lindsay-Noel: So, the tea business is not something anyone ever grows up dreaming about. I don't think necessarily. I was formerly a gymnast and I had a really bad accident that left me paralyzed at 14. So, I decided to pursue media as my next form of a career. I thought I was going to be a sports doctor, but that obviously wasn't something I could do anymore.


[Taylor Lindsay-Noel – Tay Time with Tay podcast: Hey, guys, you're listening to Tea Time with Tay, a podcast series where I sit down, like I have a choice, brew some tea, and then spill it. Let's start the show. This episode of Tea Time with Té is brought to you by my company, Cup of Té Luxury Loose-Leaf Teas.] [Audio fades out]


Andrew: She started a podcast of her own using her love of tea.


Taylor Lindsay-Noel: When I went down the path of media, I eventually started a podcast called Tea Time with Tay, where I interviewed people over a cup of tea, and I desperately wanted David’s Tea to sponsor me, and they never got back to me. Instead, I thought that if I created my own teas or had one or two teas, that I could market it back to my audience, use it as a case study to show them that I'm worthy of them sponsoring me. And in diving into it, I realized that I could really make a whole business out of it and that's how Cup of Té came about.




Andrew: Taylor faced serious barriers in her life and got to work making a difference.


Taylor Lindsay-Noel: And the social media aspect came about because I was sick and tired of going to places and not being able to access them even though they say they're accessible online. And so I wanted to create like a video resource diary, essentially, of my experiences and hopefully be able to help people, and it's kind of ballooned into way more than that. And just being like, showing what an accessible life can look like and hopefully providing people in my circumstances with hope or inspiration that they too can live a really full life, even if they have a spinal cord injury.


Andrew: She put everything into her venture as a full-time founder.


Taylor Lindsay-Noel: Yeah, it was full-time. I graduated university and kind of took a year and a half to figure out how to do it and like what to do. And it's always been my full-time, like, I haven't worked anywhere else. Very fortunate to say that I've always worked for myself and yeah, I've been full-time since 2018.


Andrew: Like many entrepreneur is getting started, Taylor had a lot to learn to pursue her goals.


Taylor Lindsay-Noel: The initial challenges were – I knew nothing. I had zero background in business at all. I didn't take a business course. And so, just figuring out and Googling my way through everything was really my course of action. Like, I had no other choice than to use what I call Google University and watching YouTube videos and typing even the most basic sentence, “How to legally sell tea in Canada.” And that's kind of how I started, and I'm really glad that I went about it that way because I think it made me a better entrepreneur because I had to figure it out every single step of the process by myself.


Andrew: Despite giving it her all, not everyone recognized her as a founder.


Taylor Lindsay-Noel: When I first started, people would always ask me like, “Oh, is this like your family's business? Or are you taking over our family business?” And it made me second guess, like, why don't people believe that I could do this? Am I not doing it right? But in turn, they were just surprised that someone in a wheelchair, maybe a woman or a person of colour in a wheelchair, could create the company that I have. Just like people second guessing, like my authenticity around being a founder. That's something I constantly, even today, still get, or people like not really believing my entrepreneurial journey or just feeling like there must have been some kind of extra help along the way when it just really wasn’t like that. Like, this was a product of me sitting in my room, in my mother's house, grinding and working and researching every morning until 3 a.m. for a year-and-a-half before products started showing up at the door. And people in my life being like, “What are you doing?” Like, “Starting a tea business.” Like, I wasn't playing around.


Andrew: It wasn't easy getting started. But Taylor launched her business and her hard work delivered results.


Taylor Lindsay-Noel: The next milestone for me was becoming profitable, and that didn't even happen until after, like we got on Oprah’s Favourite Things list, and that was the first time we were profitable because we had like obviously significant amount of eyes. But, I think for me like six months post-Oprah being still profitable was like, okay, we got something here. Like people bought and then they came back, and then they came back.


Andrew: Getting on Oprah's list was huge for Taylor, but it came with some growing pains.


Taylor Lindsay-Noel: In our first week of shipping with our Oprah situation, which a lot of people don't know about, we had quite a few packages that ended up, like, damaged in transport because we had created a new product that we hadn't really had enough time to test in the mail. And especially around the Christmas time, like the mail systems are extremely overloaded. They're far more careless than they are during slower season. So we had to shift and pivot really quickly, and it was because we got customer feedback and we offered a discount or partial refunds in order to make up for it. But luckily we got it sorted out within a couple of days and then we were off to the races.


Andrew: Cup of Té kept growing and Taylor opened a store with employees, something only a few founders do.


Taylor Lindsay-Noel: Is my staff happy? Are people feeling like this is a place that they can come and feel comfortable working with? And it's a big learning lesson for me, too. I'm learning how to be a bigger boss than I am right now and like it's different and it's a lot of work and a lot of learning. But, you know, I think we're we're learning as we go.


Andrew: And she hasn't given up on her mission to make the world a more accessible place.


Taylor Lindsay-Noel: I'd love to be a major reason why airlines allow people in wheelchairs to fly in their wheelchair and not have them stuffed under the plane and broken and lost like it happens every - like I think 15 wheelchairs go missing every single day, like, in North America. And it's like, it doesn’t seem like a huge number but when you think about arriving at your destination and not being able to move, like, it’s huge.


Andrew: Most of all, Taylor believes entrepreneurship is for everyone.


Taylor Lindsay-Noel: It sounds weird, but like anyone can do it. Like if I, with all of my challenges, was able to start an online business, grow it, scale it, open up a store, like with my having being in a wheelchair and - I don't even have the use of my fingers - like, I was able to create this from nothing. And with a lot of dedication and hard work, you can really achieve anything and that your worst thing in life that happens to you doesn't have to define you. It could actually be like your source of inspiration within yourself to overcome it in a big way, and that there’s a lot of life – I always say there's so much life after tragedy and I think, and I would hope that my story proves that.


Andrew: I'm super jealous. She's running a café. It was really fun to be there. I spent several hours helping them run their espresso machine, so it was nice to be part of her experience.




Andrew: As you may recall, in our last episode, we dropped a tease about our co-host, Deidra:, starting a business of her own. I'm going to turn it over to her and Katie to tell us the back story of D.I.A. Tribe.


Katie: So, Deidra can you tell me a little bit about the backstory of how you were diagnosed?


Deidra: Yeah, so it all started when I was 11-years-old. I started to lose a lot of weight and I was drinking a ton of water. My room was covered in water bottles, like my night table, like you couldn't see where anything - where it started. It was just full of water. And I would always be going to the washroom and I'd have these really bad migraines. And so at first it was just like, okay, I'm playing a bunch of sports right now. I'm playing three different sports. That's why I'm losing all this weight. That's why I'm so thirsty. That's what it is. But my mom is a nurse and she was like, this doesn't really seem to be all that. Like, it's got to be something else. And so at first she thought, oh, maybe she has an eating disorder. So, she was monitoring me without me actually knowing. And then she's like, okay, it's not that. What could it be? And then she was like, diabetes. And on December 20, which is also my dad's birthday, she drove me to the hospital and we got to the emergency room and within a few minutes I was placed in another room and they had IVs hooked up on to me and then a final diagnosis was made that I had Type 1 diabetes.


Katie: You were really young when this happened. How did your diagnosis impact you at such a young age?


Deidra: I went from being a super confident kid to being super shy because I felt people could only see me for my diabetes and not for me as a person. I remember times when people would come up to my siblings and I and they'd ask my siblings, “Hey, how's life going? How was school? How was this? And then when they’d get to me, the only question they'd be like, Oh, how is your diabetes management? Or how is this going?” Everything had to be questioned about my health and it was never about me as a person anymore. So, I never really felt seen. And there's also this burden that comes with diabetes. Now, instead of being able to eat whenever, I have to carb count and watch every food that I put into my mouth and I wasn't drinking juice anymore and I didn't have ice cream anymore. So, I had to go from living this very normal life as a kid – where like everything you put in your mouth is unhealthy – to watching everything and then having to inject myself with insulin through the insulin pens.


Katie: So after all that, why did you start wearing the pump?


Deidra: The pump allowed me to have freedom. So, instead of having to do all these math calculations for all the food I put into my mouth, I still have to do them, just not in such a vigorous way. Instead, I have the pump which does it for me and it gives me my insulin. It also means I don't have to inject myself with the pens as often. And your body has a lot of wear and tear when you're injecting yourself so commonly, and there's a thing called leather skin in the diabetic community because when your skin wears out that's what it starts to feel like. It starts to feel like leather. And so having the pump really allows my body to have time to heal so I can move the sites around more freely. But the simple - it's not a simple process. It's quite hard. You have to qualify. So, you have to have perfect blood sugars and then a pump company will be like yes or no to you getting a pump, and luckily for me they said yes.


Katie: That sounds great. So, what's the problem with wearing one?


Deidra: It can be very challenging to wear an extra accessory on your body that is quite literally attached. So the pump has a cord and the cord is attached to me, which means it's very limited as to where I can put it or where I can hide it. And in high school I went to a Catholic high school, so I had to wear a uniform every day, no question about it. And it didn't leave me very many options to where the pump could go. So, I would end up just having to figure it out every morning, and it was incredibly frustrating.


Katie: So, you came up with an idea in high school. What was the idea and what did you do about it?


Deidra: The idea was to have a clothing line to hide the pump. And I was thinking of a hoodie because that seems like the best thing. It's the most comfortable piece of clothing that I own. And I went to Google and I was like, hey, this is what I want to look into, this is the business I want to start and then I really just stopped after that. I got to Google. I thought, okay, you're going to need money, you're going to need sponsorship, you're going to need the actual hoodie material, and you're going to have to actually do the hard work. And I'm like, well, at 16, this is really isn't going to be happening. So, I stopped.


Katie: So what makes you want to start this business now?


Deidra: I finally have the support and resources I didn't have when I was 16, and sometimes I feel like I still don't have the time that I didn't have when I was 16. But I'm making it a priority and it's important that I can make a change in the diabetic community in some way so that less kids have to go through that isolating feeling that I went through.


Katie: So in the meantime, that you don't have this product yet, how do you hide your pump?


Deidra: I hide it in various ways. Most commonly, I have it hidden in my bra. So the pump, some pumps come with a clip on it. So, I would clip either on my bra or on my hip, and then I would just wear clothing that was either baggy enough to hide it. These days I wear things that are like a little more form fitting. And so, I find myself wearing like either shorts under a dress that I can stick it in the shorts and things like that.


Katie: It's frustrating enough just trying to figure out what to wear each day. I can only imagine what it's like for you to have to factor in the fact of, “Where do I put this pump as well?”


Deidra: Yeah, it was a real pain, especially when I was 11. It was a lot of change.


Katie: I've been able to sit in on most of Deidra's meetings with her business coach, and it's cool to see how her business has grown along the way. In the next episode, we'll find out how far she's come when we ask the question, “They said no, now what?”




Andrew: Thanks for listening to Founders Drive. My name is Andrew Neary.


Katie: I'm Katie Sampson.


Tammy: I'm Tammy Raycraft.


Deidra: And I'm Deidra Clarke.


Andrew: We'll see you in the next one.


[Music fades out]


Guest Speakers

a person standing in the woods with her arms crossed
Anong Beam
Beam Paints
Taylor Lindsay Noel
Heidy Cal
Glenda Lem
Gladis Que Gualim