Join Canada's Most Successful Businesswomen

Meet and learn from the country's top female entrepreneurs at the W100 Idea Exchange

Written by James Cowan

Fifteen years ago, Manjit Minhas sold her car for $10,000 and launched a booze empire. She was 19 years old, still in training to be a petroleum engineer, and had her younger brother, Ravinder, as her business partner.

The siblings contracted out production of their spirits—rum, rye, whisky, gin and vodka at first—to a distillery in Kentucky and sold the products to budget-conscious consumers in their home province of Alberta. The model worked, and the duo soon added tequila and beer to the portfolio. They’ve now sold 750 million cans of brew and generated $155 million in revenue last year. This fall, Minhas will debut as one of the latest stars on Dragons’ Den.

As a young female entrepreneur who thrived in a male-dominated sector, Minhas has an inspirational story. But it’s not just a We Can Do It! tale of empowerment. It’s also a case study in identifying markets, managing capital, exploiting trends and building a suite of brands. Which is why we’re thrilled that she will be among our keynote speakers at the W100 Idea Exchange in Toronto on June 5. Like all of our presenters, Minhas isn’t just there to show female entrepreneurs that success is possible. She’ll be there to show how it’s done.

Each year, the W100 Idea Exchange offers an opportunity for Canada’s top businesswomen to network and learn together. Working with our colleagues at Chatelaine, we’ve built the full-day event to ensure all participants leave with practical insights for their own businesses.

In addition to Minhas, this year’s program features the founders of Rent Frock Repeat, who will tell you how they secured $1.15 million in venture capital to expand their burgeoning clothing rental service’s inventory, staff and showrooms. There will also be lessons from Jennifer Moss in boosting satisfaction and contentment among your employees. Along with her husband, Jim, Moss runs Plasticity Labs, a Kitchener, Ont., startup that builds software to help companies to track their employees’ engagement and happiness. (Plug-within-a-plug: We’re currently testing their tools at Canadian Business as part of our Happy Office Project. Click here to check it out.)

Opening our event will be Hamish Mc-Kenzie, the author of Pitch and a consultant with 17 years experience in helping business people target their messages. Having worked with executives at American Express and Microsoft to hone their pitching skills, McKenzie will share hard-won insights into wooing that next client.

I’m very excited about this year’s lineup of speakers, as well as the opportunity events like the Idea Exchange present to meet our community. There was an era when a magazine’s interaction with its readers was a simple one. We mailed you an issue; you sent us the occasional angry letter. Among the truly thrilling changes in the media business are the many new occasions to engage, argue and share with our community.

We aspire not just to provide a monthly magazine but to meet our readers when they need us, with the insights they require. That’s why we recently launched CB Overtime, a digital-only supplement to the monthly magazine, available on Next Issue and our own app. It’s why we produce two daily newsletters: the PROFIT Report for entrepreneurs and the CB Market Wrap at the end of the day. To learn more about what we’re up to, visit us online. And if you’re a woman building a business, at any stage of your career, we hope you’ll join us on June 5.

James Cowan is the editor-in-chief of Canadian BusinessThis column is from the May 2015 issue. Subscribe now!

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