By Tristan Dahn
Adam B. Coape-Arnold came to McGill’s School of Continuing Studies the day before classes started for the Fall 2013 semester in order to see what the School offered. After having studied philosophy as an undergraduate, working in artist and record label management, as well as marketing, social media and brand building for the restaurant industry, he now wanted a solid academic background in order to advance his career in marketing. However, as soon as he saw the word “Entrepreneurship” and looked at the specific courses offered, he signed up and started the very next day.
“It was amazing how easy it was, the people were a great help and advisors were available immediately,” says Coape-Arnold.
Using the skills and knowledge he gained from the program, he and his partner in life and business, Eloïse Grondin-Bouchard, who studied human nutrition at McGill, started Cult Yogourt.
Cult Yogourt is a gourmet artisanal Greek yogourt company based in Montreal, using heirloom cultures imported from Greece, Bulgaria, Sweden and the Caspian Sea , with flavours like Sea Salt Caramel, Vanilla Chai, Apricot Lavender and Café Cardamom, developed by Eloïse. “Starting a business with Eloïse is like having two relationships at once. When there are complications, skills I’ve learned from the courses, such as conflict resolution, can help bring us closer together,” says Coape-Arnold.
The business plan for Cult Yogourt, which came in “lockstep” with his course work at the School, won them second place at the prestigious McGill Dobson Cup Start-up Competition this year. “The teachers I studied with were not just professionals, but role models,” say Coape-Arnold. “They were very different from what I had experienced in the past. I noticed right off the bat that they were plugged-in, energetic people…they were truly alive. They are successful entrepreneurs whom own-their-own destiny. It doesn’t matter how much money they’ve made, it was their happiness that sparked my own motivation.”
In classes such as Creating a Business Plan and Launching a New Business, and through the help of instructors such as Philip McCully and David Horowitz, Coape-Arnold was able to create the framework that went on to be the award winning business plan for Cult Yogourt. “When we handed in our first project for my Finance course with Jeffrey Sacksner, instead of taking it home to correct it and handing it back a month later with some notes, we went over it step by step in class, all the numbers and the spreadsheets,” says Coape-Arnold. “To have that feedback immediately helped me learn from my mistakes.”
He credits this hands-on teaching approach with preparing him for the intense vetting process that is part of the Dobson Cup. “I crave presenting now, the chance to put it all out on the line. Doing presentations, leading during group work, seeing other students rely on me, this is what gave me the confidence to know I could succeed in the Dobson.” In addition to being a networking and mentoring opportunity with industry representatives, the $9,000 prize they received from the cup is helping them take the next step with their business. “It gets us exactly to the next echelon, and furthers our credibility.”
“The people at the School are what really made it for me,” says Coape-Arnold. “The teachers are inspiring and it’s great to see such a broad spectrum of people in the classroom; people from all over of all ages who are looking to make a new start. I’m also in the grind; working 70 hours a week, and it’s made me appreciate class more. McGill’s diversity just feels more vivid throughout the entire Entrepreneur and Marketing programs in the School of Continuing Studies.”
“Something awoke inside of me; a true entrepreneurial spirit. I learned it’s something that can be in everyone. It’s not just about who had a lemonade stand as a child, it’s something that can be taught.”
Click here for more information on the this year’s Dobson Cup winners.
And don’t forget to check out Cult Yogourt.