‘Born’ innovator graduates into his own business
By Marianne Meadahl
Garrett Downes knew from an early age he was born to be an entrepreneur.
What he didn’t know then was that his business endeavors would end up helping to design the world’s best cannabis-infused edibles in a rising market—or that he’d be wearing an innovator’s hat even before completing his university degree.
“I knew after graduating high school what my career path was going to look like without any doubt, and that was to own and operate my own business,” says Downes, who graduates on June 6 with a Bachelor of Business Administration.
Downes completed his entire degree at SFU’s Surrey campus. In his final year of the entrepreneurship and innovation concentration, he and teammates in the program’s capstone class conceptualized and built the business model for Stolz Chocolates.
The company aims to supply marijuana producers with the tools and skills necessary for building an edibles business from the ground up, including “everything from recipes to helping producers with equipment purchases, to crafting high-quality cannabis-infused chocolates.”
The students found their niche just as U.S. cannabis growers and processors, eager to diversify into the edibles market, found they required more experience.
And once Canada approves full federal legalization, the team plans to wholesale Stolz Chocolates’ products domestically.
The team took home three prizes in SFU’s 2016 Opportunity Fest, including first in their category, the People’s Choice award, and the Mr. Entrepreneur award.
“That was the moment we knew we had something worth sticking with outside of the classroom when the course finished, and that’s exactly what we did,” says Downes.
With growth in mind, Downes and teammates became clients of SFU’s Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection incubator program. Stolz Chocolates has since evolved from being the company focus to becoming one of the sub-brands within a larger, more complex firm, Piva Concepts Ltd.—a consulting firm for marijuana businesses in the edibles sector.
The team has been working “full-speed and full-time” ever since.
A year later, the company is cash-flow positive and continues to grow every quarter.
The SFU entrepreneurs have been featured in the Globe and Mail and other business news outlets over the past year and continue to turn heads. Downes doesn’t expect things to slow down any time soon, bringing his childhood vision full circle.
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