Going to an event virtually instead of in-person has become the norm due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Local events including Oktoberfest, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region’s Waffles in the Warehouse and even our Communitech Annual General Meeting are taking advantage of tech to bring the event experience to laptops in our makeshift home offices.

While online events can be great, there are some once-in-a-lifetime experiences that virtual just can’t match. For two local entrepreneurs, the chance to represent Canada on the international stage in Saudi Arabia would have to be done from home.

Remy Warren, founder of MoxyPatch, and Amina Gilani, co-founder and COO of Sociavore, were selected to be among 45 Canadian delegates at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Summit at the end of October.

Represented in Canada by Futurpreneur Canada, the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance brings together organizations from the G20 countries to empower young entrepreneurs to drive economic renewal, job creation, innovation and social change. The summits are designed to help young entrepreneurs share their insights and ideas that could impact G20 member policies.


Remy Warren, founder of MoxyPatch

Warren, who previously worked at Kitchener-based Diva International, applied to the program after hearing about it from the team at the Innovation Factory in Guelph. MoxyPatch is creating an over-the-counter medical device used in the prevention of symptoms associated with stress urinary incontinence in women. “For us as a business, it's great contacts and learnings from government officials from different countries that might have the same kind of rules and regulations to help import your products,” said Warren.

Of all the years to be accepted as a delegate, Warren joked that it had to happen to her during a pandemic. “I’m 39 and this is my last year of being considered a young entrepreneur, so that’s exciting for me to still be called a young entrepreneur.”

Gilani discovered the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance program through the Futurpreneur Canada website. “I was actually looking on the Futurpreneur site for resources for Sociavore and that’s where I saw the information about the summit,” said Gilani. “It looked pretty interesting because the topic was on entrepreneurship and dealing with COVID.”


Amina Gilani, co-founder and COO of Sociavore

The chance to meet with other entrepreneurs wasn’t the only thing that interested Warren. “I'm not someone that follows politics very thoroughly, so it's kind of neat to be a part of something like this to be able to advise the G20 and hopefully propose solutions to things that they might not even realize are problems.”

Bringing a medical product to market has been challenging for Warren. She brought her experiences to the summit to find ways to make it easier to access funding and secure government approvals.

“In medical devices and life sciences, there isn't a lot of funding,” said Warren. “There's a ton of funding once you already have a revenue stream. But if you're in the startup phase, then there really isn't any different kind of funding and grants are a little bit harder.” Warren attributed this to things like not having enough inventory or the right number of employees.

As with other medical startups in Canada, Warren has found it easier to break into the U.S. healthcare market than the Canadian market. “It's very difficult to get into the Canadian market because it's just so expensive,” added Warren.

She said that the standards here are great, but without proper funding, it is almost impossible to make Canada an initial market for a health product. “I'll be selling my product in the U.S. only probably for the first two to three years because it's too expensive for me to be able to sell my own product in Canada.”

Gilani went to the conference to gain insights into how restaurants and bars in other countries are dealing with COVID-19 restrictions. “We're all kind of tackling COVID together as a world and I wanted to see how other businesses are dealing with it,” said Gilani.

We spoke with Gilani earlier in the year as Sociavore released several new features to help local food service businesses weather the initial pandemic shutdowns. She was also interested to see what countries Sociavore could potentially expand their business into.

Both Gilani and Warren said the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies and wanted to see how other delegates were managing to shift their operations.

“We’re using COVID almost as a way to advance our businesses – not just because of the pandemic, but because we’re becoming more digital as a world,” said Gilani.