Joelle Parenteau is a determined, caring, and visionary entrepreneur who excels in validating her business idea to a growing business. EpicPerks, the online platform she founded in 2013, unites small business owners as a collective buying group to negotiate group perks with business service providers. EpicPerks has acquired partnerships with corporations like RBC, Rogers, Priceline, Staples, Tanner Insurance and attracted over ten thousand members and growing.
Seeing the problem and shaping the solution
A former financial advisor, Joelle has seen many of her small business clients struggle with the lack of financial resources. Frustrated by the situation, Joelle thought reversely and the idea came up to get a group of people together to negotiate the deal.
She tested the idea first with her clients and people at networking events. “It was immediately very well received. There was a clear need for this.” She says.
Selling your vision
To start out, Joelle had to convince both corporate and small business owners how this platform would benefit them. Her ability to construct natural conversations, along with the professional knowledge of people’s individual needs, earned her great success in reaching the necessary deals to start EpicPerks.
“You do run into a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario at the beginning. Large providers expect a significant audience before investing while small business owners check what they can gain before being involved,” Joelle admits. To break the ice, she proposed EpicPerks’ vision: easier access to the traditionally fragmented small business market. She also shared the pain of small business owners who pay too much for all kinds of services and promises to negotiate better deals for them altogether.
“Once the first few corporate deals were nailed down, things started to snowball.” Joelle says.
Building open and natural client relationships
Joelle is often told that she can be very persuasive with her ultimate passion and energy to realize EpicPerks’ vision. She believes the practical way for negotiation is to be honest and open to the person you are dealing with, and create a mutually benefited situation. “Befriend people and create interesting connections. Talk to them like a human being. At the end of the day, it is all about creating relationship. So… be friendlier?“ Joelle jests.
Getting out of your comfort zone
There are inevitable challenges waiting for entrepreneurs on the road. As a shy person, she found it difficult to bring herself to go to all the networking events. A valuable quote stuck with her, “As an entrepreneur, you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Nowadays, Joelle lights up whenever new challenges come along. “That’s why I love being an entrepreneur!” she exclaims. As digital technology evolves in a mind-blowing speed these days, she suggests entrepreneurs consider how technology can contribute to creating new value and efficiency for their business. “It would have been impossible for me to launch EpicPerks earlier than 2013 without these technology advancements. As new things coming in, you need to learn what’s out there.”
Passing it onward
To Joelle, mentors help you sort through crazy ideas, avoid big mistakes or time waste acts, break your barriers and keep you sane by sharing their valuable experience. A great mentor matters more: he or she reinforces your confidence by recognizing your work progress and simply, believing in you.
Founding EpicPerks at a young age, Joelle feels grateful to have met lots of leaders. “There is the pass-it-onward mentality in the entrepreneurs’ communities. People love to help as long as you ask for it,” says Joelle. “All you have to remember is that when you are successful, look back and help the next person behind you to get there too.” Now young students are looking up to her with questions, and she is happy to pass her knowledge on.
Joelle encourages entrepreneurs to ask for help, get out, and try. She remarks, “The idea isn’t worth anything. It is all in execution.”