Venture Out Profile: Mandy Rennehan On Self-Made Entrepreneurs, Inclusivity, And Starting Your Career.
Sought-after speaker, multiple award-winning entrepreneur, and trade industry ambassador, Mandy Rennehan is redefining the collar, blue™, and inspiring people to join the dynamic skilled trade’s industry. Mandy is the Blue Collar CEO™ & Founder of Freshco.ca (not the grocery store!), Canada’s #1 retail reconstruction and maintenance provider, and RennDuPrat, a master design and custom fabrication company. Her uncensored honesty is matched by her quick wit, East Coast humour, and big heart.
VO: How did you get involved in tech/entrepreneurship?
MR: Entrepreneurship chose me, it’s in my blood. I was born in the small town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, the daughter of a lobster fisherman who relied on a seasonal fishing industry.
Many times, my parents struggled to put food on the table. While other kids were busy playing, I would go foraging for bait and sell it to the local fishermen for profit. I was dubbed the ‘local fish broker’ at just 10 years old and my entrepreneurial career was born. I felt a natural urge to lead and I was a hard worker — those traits together inspired many entrepreneurial projects in my youth which ultimately lead me to start Freshco (not the grocery store!) at the age of 19.
I quickly recognized the systemic problems in the market and created the best solutions and services, and the best team of people you’ve ever encountered, to address it. Freshco is now Canada’s #1, full-service, reconstruction, and retail maintenance provider with full coverage across Canada and the eastern United States and our client list is the who’s who of global retail brands (think Apple, Gap, Nike, Tiffany & Co.).
VO: What is one thing managers or those in leadership positions can do to make their teams / workplaces more inclusive?
MR: My business strategy has always been to lead with my heart. My staff is from all walks of life, different ages, and backgrounds. I firmly believe in hiring based on personality and potential; a resume is just a piece of paper and skills can be taught.
My one piece of advice to leaders would be to remember the incredible value and richness an inclusive team with diverse opinions and points of view brings to your company. I encourage everyone, at every level, to raise their hands with fresh ideas, ask provocative questions and to constantly challenge the status quo. This is what pushes any company to evolve and be the best in your industry.
VO: What is one piece of advice you have for LGBTQA+ folks just starting out in their careers in tech or entrepreneurship?
MR: Be a risk taker, set yourself apart from the pack. Then pair that with business smarts and personality, and it is a recipe to revolutionize any industry! If you are different (and most entrepreneurs are), be brave and challenge your audacious mind to go for it! Find a mentor you admire who’s made it, and knock on their door until they listen. If you are the real deal, any self-made entrepreneur will help because we know the world needs more of you!
VO: To what extent do you think attitudes within the tech/startup industry have shifted over time? It seems more and more people think they can become an instant millionaire with just an idea, but very few have what it actually takes to survive as an entrepreneur.
VO: Anything else that you’d like to highlight?
MR: Confidence is sexy, no matter who you are!
Mandy is humbled by the many awards she’s received including, the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur “Momentum” Award, (WXN’s) Top 100 Most Powerful Women, the LGBT Business of the Year Award, Profit Magazine’s W100 and Atlantic Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEOs and Atlantic Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEOs.
And never to shy away from speaking her truth, Mandy’s been featured on radio, TV, print and social media including, Canada 150 Women Book , The Globe and Mail, Financial Post, Chatelaine, CTV, and BNN.