Enactus Memorial offers business boot camp for Canadian ex-military


(l-r): Business students Andrea Williams, Shaun Morrissey
and Alex Robbins mentor Mike Ottogalli,
a participant in Based in Business, a program of
Enactus Memorial and Prince’s Charities Canada.

July 31, 2014

A week-long business boot camp that offers former military members the chance to develop business skills wrapped up at Memorial this week.

Based in Business, run by Enactus Memorial, provided 21 former and transitioning members of the Canadian Forces with in-classroom learning and one-on-one mentoring to help them transition into new careers as business owners.

“It’s a bit of an information overload, but I’ve enjoyed it all,” says Mike Ottogalli, 42, formerly of Windsor, ON but now living in St. John’s. “I’ve tried to be a sponge [and] it’s got me excited about starting a business of my own.”

Mr. Ottogalli spent a total of seven years in the Royal Canadian Navy. He currently works at an art gallery in downtown St. John’s and is exploring ways to turn his passion for nature and nautical photography into a business.

He signed up for Based in Business hoping to expand his understanding of the questions that need to be answered before starting a business.

“I had no idea how to go about doing a business plan so that was one of my expectations was hoping to understand that. And I was hoping to learn more about business start-up financing,” he says. “I’ve been given a lot of resources for financing, and we’re been working on a business plan. I’ve realized that a business plan isn’t the easiest. It’s not a one-week tool. There’s still a lot of research that I have to go through.”

Based in Business began as a project of Enactus Memorial in 2008 when the volunteer student group was contacted by the Department of National Defence with the request that a program be developed to help entrepreneurially-minded service men and women reintegrate into civilian life once they leave the military.

In 2011, Enactus Memorial partnered with Canadian Youth Business Foundation, now known as futurpreneur, to develop the Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur, currently in its third year. The Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur is a program of Prince’s Charities Canada and is the only program of its kind in Canada.

Based in Business is held every year at the Gardiner Centre. Participants take in classroom sessions to learn about business-related topics such as entrepreneurship, customer relations, accounting and finance, marketing, human resources, legal issues and business ethics. Instruction is provided by staff and faculty members at the Faculty of Business Administration. They also work one-on-one with student volunteers to develop final presentations and business plans.

Business students Angelise States and Shaun Morrissey are co-project managers of Based in Business this year. Ms. States says she’s enjoyed the personal interactions that students have had with participants.

“You’re actually hands-on with the participants and you’re working one-on-one with them. It’s a lot more real than I thought it would be,” she says.

Ms. States says the program’s value comes from offering participants the chance to succeed in a new career.

“A lot of veterans don’t necessarily have the access to the skills they need for starting a business. It’s really hard to see when they actually go out and start their ventures, and a lot of the times they fail because they just don’t have those basic skills that they’re needing,” she says. “It’s not that they’re not driven – they’re all so motivated – but when you come to a Based in Business boot camp, you actually receive those basic ground level skills that are going to be necessary for any business.”

Based in Business ran from July 20-27.

Susan White-MacPherson