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UofGH alum building businesses and connections
Photo courtesy of Bradley Fenton/Coopzx
University of Guelph-Humber Business alumnus Brandon Fenton has always had an entrepreneurial spirit.
“I wanted to start my own business since I was five or six years old,” Fenton said. “I would tell my mom I wanted to open up a shoe store.”
It didn’t take long for Fenton to start running his first business. When he was 14, Fenton began hosting all-age events in Peel Region.
“I was so eager to do something on my own,” Fenton said. “I’m a go-getter in the sense I like figuring things out for myself. I like doing new things.”
His passion for entrepreneurship eventually led him to the UofGH Business program, where Fenton focused on marketing and management. Since graduating in 2016, Fenton has been keeping busy—extremely busy.
Fenton is the owner/partner in four businesses, including North Division event planning/marketing agency, The Groomsmen Barbershop, SJB Developments and Figures Toronto restaurant-lounge. On top of that, Fenton is also a social media influencer for Miller Genuine Draft and is currently studying for his real estate license.
Though Fenton’s portfolio is diverse, there is one common thread throughout all his projects: it’s his enthusiasm for connecting with and learning from others that has helped him thrive.
Fenton, a former soccer player, was debating between pursuing a career in sports or entrepreneurship after high school. Ultimately, his passion for entrepreneurship prevailed, and Fenton chose UofGH to help him enhance his business knowledge.
“It had everything that I wanted to do. It had both the experience of college and university, hands-on and theoretical,” Fenton said.
His time at UofGH taught him important skills in marketing, scheduling, and managing clients and employees.
“I feel like it really helped me structure a lot of my business sense,” Fenton said.
Since starting his first business, Fenton credits networking for introducing him to new opportunities and new connections.
“When I start a new business or I go into a new industry, I read up on a lot of things, but I also ask people a lot of questions,” Fenton explained. “I'll ask to sit down, take someone out to eat and I'll pick their brain. What usually happens is we end up doing some business together or they become a business partner of mine or we become really good friends.”
“I feel like a lot of people out there want to pass on knowledge,” Fenton added, “but a lot of people are scared to ask because of ego. Even if you are experienced in something, when you enter something new, you've got to bring that ego down, to put yourself in this position where you can learn from people. I've done that many times and it's gone a long way.”
Fenton’s years of meeting people through event planning has also helped him gain a large social media following. Social media, Fenton noted, has been another way for him to connect with others.
“Social media has been a really big platform for me to expand my business and I'm pretty grateful for it,” Fenton said.
After Fenton graduated from UofGH, he knew he wanted to take a risk.
“I told myself I would give myself until I was 25 or 26. If it didn't work out, where my entrepreneurial route wasn't going well, I'd go try to find a corporate job. I didn't want to give up my dream, but I'd probably put it on pause a little bit and work on it, so the next time I do it, or the next thing I do, would be more successful than the last time.”
But his risk paid off. The connections Fenton has made through working in the entertainment industry, combined with his businesses skills and knowledge, has helped him thrive as an entrepreneur.
“I've started so many businesses—ones that have failed and some that are really doing well right now,” Fenton said. “I know the process of where to start, how to begin businesses and, for me, it's not even a risk anymore. Now I feel like it's more of a risk to not try than to actually try.”
Fenton encourages others to seek out new opportunities, continue educating themselves and follow their passions.
“Whatever you want to do, I'd say chase it,” Fenton said. “Use the platform and the knowledge that you're getting from Guelph-Humber and use that towards anything that you want to do.”