In Focus is our gift to the community. A way for us to help show our recognition for the people, businesses and organizations that help make our city great. The team at KelownaNow.com is passionate about this community and the people that make it amazing. We want to show our friends, neighbours, family and colleagues that we notice them and the fabulous things that they do.
What is your name?
Where are you from and how long have you lived in Kelowna?
Nine months – fresh blood to Kelowna. I grew up in a small town called Brighton, Ont. where I grew up and spent the first 18 years of my life. I then moved on to Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. while getting my BBA in Marketing. After university I made my way to Penticton while developing the triathlon side of my life then stumbled upon Kelowna in October 2015 and have been here ever since!
Who is your favourite person to spend time with and why?
Trying to think of something better than the person I spend most days with, but this would justify being my favourite person to spend time with, my girlfriend Amie. She is around day in and day out and helps get me up at the start and putting me down at the end of the day. I also can’t put family and friends back ‘home’ out of the equation since they are such a big part of my life despite moving West. I plan to make trips back to visit and stay connected with all the people I have met through the start of my journey people call, life.
If you could go anywhere in the world right at this moment where would you go and why?
As bad as it sounds, I’d love to make a trip back to Ontario to see family and friends since family and a few close friends have already made the trip since I have been out here. Aside from this, I’d love to do lots of travelling around the globe including the UK, Australia, EVERYWHERE. My plan is to do well enough with triathlon to race around the globe and explore the world during vacation time and racing season!
What is your favourite local store in Kelowna and why?
I love setting up meetings in coffee shops around the area and grabbing lunch around town. Setting up meetings I have found The Bike Shop Café is a great spot. When I contacted the Owner Darren he showed the utmost respect and sincere passion and drive for his business. I’ve made this a big spot for me to go back to and support a great business owner who from my perspective listens to all who comes his way and is open to new connections – which is a trait I admire. Lunch I’ve connected well with Ben and Naya at Hooligans Gourmet Hotdogs, they’ve welcomed me and gave me a great story behind their business and the local product and passion for their food that I also admire. It’s a business often needing education and provides high quality local ingredients, supporting local businesses. They gave me this education on my first visit and I’ve continued to go back – a must check out! In other words, I like to connect with local business owners, hear their story and support them when I’m able to fully understand their business and appreciate what they are providing.
What is your favourite activity?
It would have to be Triathlon (Swim, Bike, Run) I train day in and out with my goals to race in the Bostom Marathon and Ironman World Championships next year, then snag my professional triathlon license the following year and see how far I can make it with a full-time job! It’s been a passion since I finished high school. I got out of soccer after getting the triathlon bug five years ago and haven’t looked back!
If you had to choose: pizza, tacos, or burgers?
Pizza – I drooled the most when thinking about it.
What is a hidden gem you enjoy in the Okanagan?
Last summer I raced the Rattle Snake Island 7km Swim around the island where Ogopogo is said to live. It. Was. Cool. If you have a chance to put yourself into a state of near death, I highly recommend doing a loop around this island – clear water and rock for how many ever feet down. Or choose a smarter option and boat or Kayak around this island – highly recommended!
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
In triathlon, if you’ve never thought of it. A half iron triathlon is roughly 3.5 to 7 hours depending on your ability. So it is a long enough race to let the seal break. And typically I would go to the washroom while descending a hill on the bike ride. But this race I just couldn’t do it. So I decided to do it on the run course. And instead of doing it in a hidden area I waited until an aid station to spill some water over myself to wash it down. But I happened to pick a highly populated aid station and took 30 seconds or so while stopped in a silly pose while in a race with warm water dribbling down my legs. Natural triathlon thing to do – but still quite embarrassing to be standing in a race with many people cheering and wondering why you just stopped dead in your tracks.
What is the most inspiring thing that has happened to you?
RTOWN Life –Living to help local business through RTOWN and exploring the local business market is inspiring daily. I hear the background and stories of both young and developed business owners daily. It blows my mind some days seeing the avenues to become successful and avenues to become unsuccessful and how I can turn their life around while providing them support that they never thought was accessible or knew how to get!
Triathlon life – When I competed in Challenge Penticton 2014 with minimal training (thinking I am an inhuman athlete of natural ability) and seeing Professional athletes completing the race in 2/3 of my time (closer to ½) was SUPER inspiring. Just jaw dropping and I can only hope to be up there in the coming years to drop some jaws and inspire others to dream big and set high goals even if you aren’t even close to where you want to be, but have the drive and passion to get there.
Tell us your favourite childhood memory.
I had plenty of amazing childhood memories. I always go back to sport and the involvement I’ve had and the traits it has given me - drive and passion. Team and individual sports have given me foundations of success I can see come through to my professional life today. I also started work and entrepreneurship early with a grass cutting business at the age of 12 then worked all through the rest of elementary school, high school then followed that up by running my own painting business (College Pro Painters) in University which found me lots of success and gave me the foundation for my current career.
Where do you volunteer or give back to in the community?
Personally, I love networking events - getting my name out there, learning about other businesses in the community and ways I can network and connect with others while helping and getting help from other business owners. I plan to get involved with the Kelowna Triathlon Club with some swim coaching, training and connecting with the triathlon community even more here. So this is a large space I focus my efforts with currently. RTOWN, we support local charities as a BCorp – see https://www.bcorporation.net/ - We’ve established ourselves in Whistler, Vancouver, and Kamloops with various charities including Whistler Community Services Society, Covenant House Vancouver and New Life Community Kamloops – to name a few. We also work with Red Academy Vancouver. It is a very forward thinking digital and tech marketing training school for education in a very specific manner related to our industry. LocoBC is also a great organization we like to support! Aside from this, locally, we’d love to get involved with charities, so if you see something related or you think would be great for us to support we’d love to hear about it and are always looking for others to join!
If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
Openness to change and more collaboration in society would be a great start! I believe collaboration, networking and utilizing resources of others is a great way to support everyone. The more open each individual is to listen, learn and become smarter, the better off society will be as a whole since we can all learn from each other.
What is your favourite activity in Kelowna?
I love to grind it out on the pavement and trails! Watching a black line for hours on end, straining my neck while grinding over mountains on my bike, and tearing every muscle in my body on the beautiful trails and roads in the Okanagan!
Where would you sneak away to in Kelowna to spend some time alone?
Mission Creek Greenway! Popular choice, but a great one! Nice place to take a run or walk.
Where would you like to see positive change in Kelowna and why?
I believe positive change is happening all the time in Kelowna, bike lanes are phenomenal; I’ve always had a passion for bicycle safety. I feel as though I lose hair on my legs to vehicles at least once a week. I’d love to get involved into initiatives with the city to help with bike safety awareness. Ontario has brought into act 1-meter laws, and has begun enforcing them. This would be a great place for the city – and I’d love to have a personal conversation on how to execute this and get involved with this change!
If you could be granted one wish for work or in life, what would it be?
Enough success between Professional triathlon and living RTOWN life to bring upon a happy family, happy life, lots of travel and great work/life/family balance!
Tell us something that not everyone may know about you.
I consider myself quite open and believe I have spilled all the beans. Triathlon, RTOWN, networking, sport in general, family, friends, new to Kelowna, pee myself in triathlons...But I also went from beginner swimmer in university year one a Varsity Swimmer year four and set the swim course record at the Kelowna Cherry Blossom triathlon this year.
What is the name of your business/organization?
RTOWN – Digital Marketing Solutions
What does your business do?
We help local businesses grow by the use of amazing digital tools such as Social Media, Websites, SEO/SEM, Custom Videos, Customer voice (an online survey that gets inside your customers head in real time), Reputation Management (we manage all of the review sites for you) and a Loyalty rewards program that uses an app on your phone to help you reward and retain customers. We give the little guys a way to use what the big guys have but with little guy pricing. We become an extension of your business, using our honed, ever growing and changing skills as digital and communications experts. Technology is changing as rapidly as I am writing this sentence and we keep up and bring you along to make sure you are being noticed so customers will walk through your door.
How do people connect with you through social media? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest)
Is this too much digital...
Where can people find your business online?
Why did you get into/start this business?
I started in this to make an impact in the marketing field. I fell in love with creating marketing plans in a course at Wilfrid Laurier University in the marketing program. I love to roll through any business and find a problem or opportunity and fix it through research, understanding and advising on marketing strategy to uncover a better way or a new way to market their business. I got out of school knowing this and was able to discover digital marketing as a way to fill these aspirations. Through RTOWN I provide clients with a select number of digital marketing services. But I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend another marketing method if it is fit, or find a way I can bring a connection into the field to advise a client to find them success.
What is the goal of your business?
At our core, we are built on a foundation of five traits. This being said, our goal is to help local businesses eat big business’ lunch in the digital world. We do this through trust, relationship building and these five traits to guide us in this direction. We provide services to make an average local business look like a masterpiece in the digital world.
Team Over Individual;
Remarkable Customer and Team Experience;
Uncover a Better way;
Surplus for Purpose;
What has been your biggest struggle either in work or life?
I would say it is building the foundation of relationships. Being fairly new to Kelowna it is a matter of getting my name our there and backing that name up. In the past, I have built my name and have been respected as trustworthy and known to stay true to my word and very supportive if any of my clients need assistance in any way. So getting this message out there and having business owners trust that I am chatting with them for the better of their business, is likely the hardest thing to do. As I mentioned before, even when you have the best intentions, sometimes people don’t want to listen or trust that you are truly there for their benefit.
If you could start all over again would you do things the same or would things be different?
I am very happy with where I am at currently. I believe generally in life I have found success with where I land and have gone into the forest with no direction at times and have come out successful. So I believe whatever choices I make in life and my dreams and aspirations are taking me in the right direction. My mom has been a large inspiration to this mentality and has given me the openness to trust in what I set out to do and following through with it.
Why do you think it is important to shop locally?
For every $100 spent with a BC local business, $46 is re-circulated back into our BC economy (vs $18 for multi nationals). Local business owners live and provide jobs in your community. Local businesses provide more support for local events, sports teams and charities. Local businesses are more likely to buy local services and can stock local products. Need I say more? They are the foundation for cycling money back into the community and the people who are involved, network, build and help one another. I believe larger multinationals, for the most part are very vertical and look at ways to help themselves and have a challenge to bring themselves down to a local level to give back and help out!
Give someone that you think deserves it a shout out and explain why!
Gave a shout out earlier but Hooligans is a great place to eat, gourmet hot dogs has its challenges with education, especially with quality product backing them. But they provide excellent hotdogs with local ingredients, they don’t have a “farm to table” logo – but they sure could very well paint that logo on their wall with the product they provide.
My nomination for the In Focus spotlight is:
Hooligans Gourmet Hot Dogs – Ben Cramb and Naya Feist and JustCheck – Jordan Ambrosio
Other information you would like to share:
If any local business owners don’t know where to start with digital marketing, don’t understand marketing, need help but don’t have cash to spend on advisors – feel free to reach out to me for tips, tricks, advice and I am sure I can point you in the right direction!
We encourage you to leave your comments and words of support below and submit your own nomination by clicking HERE. You are also welcome to submit a form of your own by clicking HERE. Thank you, Kelowna!