• Stephanie O’Hanley

'Innovative' small business event to showcase local entrepreneurs


SHUTTERSTOCK PHOTO BY EUGENIO MARONGIU

Participation in a showcase for small businesses in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region has exceeded organizers’ expectations for the upcoming May 6 ‘Innovation’ event at the Centre Multisports in Vaudreuil-Dorion.

You could say Agnes Katsouros loves helping entrepreneurs. As the sole proprietor of event planning company Grace and John Events, she's an entrepreneur herself but since 2013 she’s also regularly guided budding business owners and operators as an academic coach with the Competition Committee at Concordia's John Molson School of Business.

Given her background, it's no surprise to learn Katsouros is the woman behind Innovation - Vaudreuil Small Business Showcase, a free public event taking place May 6 at the Centre Multisports Vaudreuil-Dorion.

“Entrepreneurship has always been a passion of mine and I wanted to give back to the community that I grew up in, which was the Vaudreuil-Soulanges area,” said Katsouros, who hails from Pincourt.

She got the idea for a small business showcase after seeing people post on social media asking for recommendations. “They would be posting about looking for different types of businesses and not realize what’s right in front of them,” Katsouros said.

Everyone she spoke to about it liked her idea, Katsouros said. “From there it blew up into this amazing initiative. We have 57 entrepreneurs registered for the event. My goal at first was to just have 25.”

Filled to capacity

So many businesses signed up, she's no longer accepting registrations. “We’re sold out and we’re at capacity,” Katsouros said, adding she's still getting voicemails from people asking if they can join the event. “It breaks my heart to say ‘no’ but at the same time I’m bursting at the seams a little bit. I’m going to have to look for a bigger venue next year. I want to give ample space to the entrepreneurs as well. I don’t want them climbing on top of each other.”

She's thrilled to attract so much interest. “It’s really great to see the excitement of the entrepreneurs, the way that it’s being received by just the general public,” Katsouros said. “There’s a lot of hype behind it. We’re actually going to have 94.7 Hits FM at the event as well as other initiatives.”

While most participants in the showcase, which includes Your Local Journal, hail from the Vaudreuil-Dorion area, she said it isn't exclusive. “There are several as well that are from the outskirts. So we’re looking at Île-Perrot, Pincourt, and St. Lazare.

Growing small business networks

“The purpose of the event is twofold,” Katsouros said. “One is to create an opportunity for the small businesses of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges area so that they can network and leverage referrals and recommendations within their network. So for example, if businesses need web design, there’s a web designer on site. It’s really about interconnecting these businesses.

Connecting with the public

“The second aspect is to get the public to know about local businesses and about the businesses that are offered in the area,” she said. “So it’s really about promoting that local initiative, shopping local, supporting your local economy... It’s a free event for the public so they can attend at their leisure, there’s no entrance costs at all. We’re hoping to attract the masses because of that.”

Katsouros said local media are promoting the event and Vaudreuil-Soulanges MP Peter Schiefke is attending. “I hope that all the puzzle pieces fall into place and that it’s going to be a good success and we can repeat it in the years to come.”

Innovation - Vaudreuil Small Business Showcase takes place Saturday, May 6, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Centre Multisports Vaudreuil-Dorion, 3093 boulevard de la Gare.

For more information, call (514) 979-4389 or visit the event's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/1861484350798584/

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