michele romanow: the working life of a successful dragonJuly 26, 2017
<Incorporating healthy eating habits into your strict routine can be challenging if you’re focused on your career — which is something that few know more of than Michele Romanow of Dragon’s Den. We spoke to the entrepreneur about the secrets to her success and how her life in business glitters with ties to food.
“I grew up in Calgary before heading out east, attending engineering school at Queen’s. My first business was a sustainable coffee shop called The Tea Room on Queen’s campus.
When I finished my MBA, I decided to go and build a commercial caviar fishery… which is insane for a 21-year-old! My business partner, Anatoliy Melnichuck and I moved out to New Brunswick, learned sturgeon fishing and fully emerged ourselves in everything — we got a boat, a fisherman, rented a processing facility and made caviar. Then we called high-end restaurants and sold caviar across the country.
I feel close to the food space because I started out there. After the recession in 2008, I took a job as the Director of Strategy at Sears before leaving the next year to start a company called buytopia.ca, which became one of the fastest growing companies in Canada. From there, we spun out an app called SnapSaves that helped consumers save money on their groceries. That company was bought by Groupon in 2014 and I moved to Chicago with the acquisition. I joined the cast of Dragons Den thereafter.
My links to food in business have remained firm, especially when I joined the board of freshii. I was a consumer of theirs for years and I continue to eat there nearly every day. It kind of just happened naturally. I just love their food!
I realized a while ago that although I love cooking, I just can’t do everything I wanted career wise and also cook. Cooking isn’t only cooking but it’s shopping for groceries and making sure the food doesn’t rot in your fridge. I rely on the foodora’s of the world to keep me fuelled with things that are good for me.”
Hard Work, grit and success
“I’ve always worked hard. I think that’s table stakes. I was driven and sure, I got a bit lucky, but the harder you try the luckier you get. The more swings you take, the greater your chances that something is going to work out. Successful people do what unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do. I did the grittiest jobs — being an entrepreneur is not glamorous.
CEO means ‘Chief EVERYTHING Officer’. You’re responsible for your office, for your business, for your bathrooms being clean… I was willing to roll up my sleeves and do what it took to be successful.
We have this notion in society that if we have a big idea it will be the right idea. That eureka moment never came to me. What holds so many people back from starting a company is that they’re waiting for that huge idea, but I don’t think it exists. We know where the growth areas are today, like A.I. But a big A.I company is only going to built by iterating on many ideas. Innovation is just a tonne of iteration.”
“I’m the same person with friends and in work. Unwinding with friends and getting their perspective on things is a therapy. I think running is too. It’s so necessary for your brain — if you’re feeling stressed, go and do something outside, it really will solve 80% of your problems. I started learning how to sail recently too. That’s amazing, it’s such an incredible feeling to be on the water.
There’s no perfect way to know what’s next. I just keep dreaming. I didn’t start my career thinking I would be in TV, but you take opportunities and just say yes!”
To order from freshii or another of foodora’s awesome restaurants, head here.>