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Business boot camp: There's no life like it

Wednesday, July 25, 2012
The Chronicle Herald Getting into business is a little like going into the military, says navy Lt. Scott Harrigan.

“You have no idea what you’re getting into,” the Hammonds Plains resident said in an interview Wednesday from St. John’s, N.L.

Harrigan, 38, is taking part in a week-long entrepreneurial boot camp at Memorial University that runs until July 29.

The program is designed to help military personnel make the transition to the business world.

The business boot camp was developed by Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) Memorial in partnership with the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, which mentors and funds young entrepreneurs.

It is part of the Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur program, a national initiative for Canadian Forces members supported by Prince’s Charities Canada, the Department of National Defence, Veteran Affairs Canada and Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship.

Harrigan, who is based at Stadacona in CFB Halifax, has served in the military for 20 years, including a “life-changing” tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2009-2010 where he helped refurbish schools and mosques.

While he has no immediate plans to retire, Harrigan is using the boot camp to hone business skills he needs to develop two ventures he has launched while in uniform.

“I have no formal business training,” he said. “There’s a lot to learn.”

Harrigan founded Mariner Dog Products, which makes dog collars and leashes that use sailor knots, five years ago while serving on HMCS Preserver.

The collars and leashes, which are sold in boutique pet supply stores, are now made in China.

His other venture is Glorope Canada, a franchise which markets glow-in-the-dark marine products, including rope, dock bumpers and cleats, and glow in the dark pet collars and safety vests.

Harrigan said accessing capital and developing an effective commercial Internet presence are the key problems he’s encountered in developing those businesses.

“It’s been a nightmare,” he said of his e-commerce challenges.

Harrigan said the the boot camp takes a multi-faceted approach that includes classroom presentations and discussions and one-on-one time with small business professionals and faculty and students from Memorial’s Faculty of Business Administration.

“So far it’s been incredible,” he said.

The camp has also included in-depth sessions with some of Newfoundland and Labradors’s top business leaders that Harrigan found tremendously exciting.

Harrigan had the opportunity to meet Prince Charles at CFB Gagetown earlier this year during the royal tour of Canada.

He spoke briefly to the Prince, a fellow sailor, and gave him one of his nautically themed leashes.

“If there’s ever a picture of a royal corgi on that leash, I’ll be swamped,” he said with a laugh.

(berskine@herald.ca)

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