Breakfast of champions: networking event targets early risers

Omar Choudhry says small businesses, social entrepreneurs and charities can learn a lot from each other.

By Jacob Serebrin

"We all pigeonhole things," he says. "Ultimately everybody’s on same similar journey, business is business, doesn’t matter what it is. Even a charity is a business."

Mr. Choudhry is the co-founder of The Breakfast Startup, a non-profit that’s organizing a series of breakfast events that he hopes will help small business owners, social entrepreneurs and charity directors become more successful.

"There’s a lot of talk about wanting to promote entrepreneurship, but running a business isn’t just starting one day and selling a widget," he says. "You’ve got to understand how to market the widget, sell the widget, how to plan for your business."

"What we’ve noticed, at least here in Ottawa, is that there’s a little bit of a disconnect. There are a lot of networking events, but there aren’t things that are really geared towards small and medium businesses."

Mr. Choudhry says it’s something he’s noticed as the CEO of YPITData, an Ottawa-based digital outsourcing company that employs university students.

While The Breakfast Startup might have the word "startup" in the name, Mr. Choudhry says it’s not just for tech-focused businesses and organizations. He uses the word to describe any company that’s relatively new and looking to grow.

"It doesn’t really matter what area you’re operating in, everybody has the same challenges," he says.

The first event will focus on connecting with customers.

Mr. Choudhry says it will feature several small businesses, a couple of social entrepreneurs and a community organization or charity. They’ll present what they’re doing well and a problem that they’re struggling with.

An expert will then give those organizations advice on how they can overcome the challenge they’re facing.

He expects that future iterations of The Breakfast Startup will follow a similar format. Future events will focus on sales and marketing, branding and tax planning.

Initially, Mr. Choudhry says he plans to run the events every other month. He hopes to make The Breakfast Startup a monthly series by January.

Of course, the focus won’t just be on networking and education, he adds – a "good hearty breakfast" will also be served.

The first event will be on July 20 from 7 to 9:30 a.m. at Carleton University’s Residence Commons Building.