We would like to express our appreciation to Mr. Paul Foster, who for 4 years has played key roles as the Odette School of Business Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) and the EPICentre Lean Startup Advisor.
Paul was previously a Chartered Professional Accountant who founded and ran his own successful accounting firm for more than 20 years, providing trusted advice to his clients for which he was recognized by his business advising peers as the RANONE North American Advisor of the Year. More recently, Paul founded “The Business Therapist”, a firm focused on providing tools and methods to startups to help them become successful in the current market.
As EIR from 2010-2012, Paul Foster mentored business consulting students and provided a valuable connection to the Windsor-Essex business community. As Lean Startup Advisor, Paul encouraged entrepreneurial faculty, staff, and students from Business, Law, Engineering, and Science to embrace the “Lean Startup” method. The Lean Startup method is used to develop new products and services by eliminating wasteful practices and increasing value-producing activities, thus increasing the chance of success for startups.
Paul has recently been working with the EPICentre’s EPIC Founders Program. This 12-week summer program is designed to provide young entrepreneurs with the necessary skills and tools to turn their ideas into feasible businesses by following the lean startup process. As the Lean Startup advisor, Paul has mentored the founders throughout the program to make sure they meet their milestones. This is what the founders had to say about their experience with Paul:
Mina Ghali (Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering 2014; Business- Chronofit) – “As an engineering graduate, I knew that I had to go through a learning curve to feed my business enthusiasm. We were introduced to Paul to have him as our business mentor which I thought meant that he would be a teacher. Little did I know, he was so much more than just a teacher. When I would ask him questions and seek advice, he would answer saying, ‘I know the answer to your question but I want you to go find it out on your own. Maybe it will be different from my answer. I don’t want you to be set on my answer. This is one of the advantages being a start-up entrepreneur.’
This method was totally different from how I was used to seeking answers. In engineering, we are used to getting the answers bluntly and there is usually only one acceptable answer. Through his method, I felt the mentorship connection when he pointed out my business-interest which was marketing. This was what convinced me to continue with him as my mentor, even after finishing the program. Actually being under his mentorship, one would find Paul is an even better mentor than that I could say in any testimonial. If I was to choose a business mentor again, I would definitely choose Mr. Paul Foster. He has always remained true to his word, he practices what he preaches.”
Connor Holowachuk (Bachelor in Electric Engineering 2018; Business- Chronofit) – “Our meetings with Paul were filled with insight, redirecting us along the path of success. Paul has a unique method to steer entrepreneurs in the right direction. He does so through simple questions that dig deep into the views, values and culture of the company, ensuring that the entrepreneur never loses sight of their primary goal. Paul’s methodology of mentorship also greatly preserves the unique and innovative approach to startups that so many modern courses and mentors have ignored. Present-day startup fanatics have entrepreneurship down to a science, and they choose to teach it as such; Paul abstains from the standard step-by-step, cookbook style of teaching that education is typically approached from, and allows you to try it out for yourself so that you can learn from your experiences. This allows entrepreneurs to learn from failure, which is an inaugural component to truly understanding the art of startups. Paul provides an in-depth analysis on the reasons for failure, issuing insight on how to revamp the company’s approach to the market. At Chronofit, we faced multiple failures when approaching the market with our initial assumptions, yet with Paul’s assistance we were able to make the necessary changes to continue moving forward to success.”
Curtis Collard (Bachelor in Computer Science 2015; Business- Community Hub) – “Paul is a wise and insightful individual who is especially good at bringing out the best in others. As a business advisor he is not afraid to ask tough questions but at the same time is understanding when the answers might be less than adequate. He shares my belief that everything is an opportunity to learn, both about ourselves and our business. In a typical session with him you will be pushed to explore things in new ways. He helps to broaden your understanding about yourself, your business and where the two fit together in the world. Paul has helped cement the ideas of the lean startup method in my mind. They are no longer concepts but experiences that are waiting to be lived. Paul made me understand that to act is the best plan and to understand the consequences of these actions. This is the only way to truly learn how to run a business. Through his insights and years of experience, I am empowered by the knowledge that he has imparted onto me. “