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(2018 - Winter/Spring Issue)


Being the youngest dragon on CBC TV’s popular Dragons’ Den series, Michele Romanow embraces entrepreneurship the same way a Michelin-star chef approaches cooking a classic meal—with passion, meticulous planning and focused execution. The entrepreneur’s path to success also involves making mistakes and tackling challenges along the way.    

“If I hadn’t started at the age of 20, none of this would have happened. Because I was able to make mistakes and learn from them, I was able to iterate and improve.”

Romanow has become one of Canada’s leading technology entrepreneurs, a well-known television personality, sought-after public speaker, venture capitalist and owner of many successful businesses. Equipped with an engineering degree and MBA from Queen’s University, her talents now lean to building businesses. While at university, her first business was creating The Tea Room, a zero-consumer-waste coffee shop. Romanow has made mistakes. While still in her early 20s, her caviar business with two partners failed after a few months. But much success followed. As co-founder of Buytopia.ca and owner of other companies, she now sits on various company boards of directors. Romanow has earned many accolades and appeared on lists featuring top entrepreneurs, powerful women and profit-growing companies.  

From an early age, her parents took Michele and her three siblings on many trips within Canada and around the world. Besides creating and supporting new business ventures, travel remains a focal point in Romanow’s life.


Did you always dream about being an entrepreneur?

I was an adventurer from a young age. I was into making things. I thought at one point I’d be a pianist. I was very involved in extracurricular activities. But when I got to Queen’s I eventually decided I was much better at building structures and bridges. 

Is giving up family life par for the course for entrepreneurs?

Personally, I chose high-growth, high-intensity, winner-take-all markets because that’s just the nature of the business. I don’t feel hard done by as that is what I chose to do and I am having fun. It never feels like work when you work with people you love and solve problems together. That’s a great joy.

What do you like about being on Dragons’ Den?

I get to see many Canadians with so many amazing dreams! It’s a treat for me because what I do for them is what I do in my everyday life—evaluate and look at ideas to see how we can be helpful and plan. It’s fun to actually replicate your “real life” on TV.

What were your early travels and what impressions did they have on you?

When I was young, my parents drove a motorhome across the western U.S. seaboard states. We toured Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, every lighthouse in Oregon and the redwood forests. As we grew older, my parents started planning trips over Christmas. We visited India, Egypt, Australia, Kenya, Vietnam, Easter Island and Galapagos. Travel gave us an opportunity to bond as a family, experience new cultures and people and that enormously shaped my perspective on life.

What’s your dream destination?

I toured Croatia this past summer, which was my dream destination. The next one on my list is Japan.

Any travel pet peeves?

It’s frustrating when people expect everything abroad to be like North America. If you want it to be like home then just stay home!

Favourite places in Canada?

My favourite provinces are Alberta and British Columbia. The Rocky Mountains are so beautiful. I have fond memories of Banff and Jasper. I’ve visited every province and corner of Canada. I grew up in Regina and Calgary, I have a cottage in B.C., I started a fishery in New Brunswick, I was schooled in Kingston, I’ve lived in Toronto and I took my team on a retreat in the Yukon last year. Canada has so much to offer.

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