It was a coffee meeting that led 25-year-old Lively native David Wilkin to launch his business, Redwood Strategic Inc., four years ago.
At the time, he was working for the federal government as a spokesperson on youth issues. Through his job, Wilkin had come to realize government and businesses were looking for ways to better understand youth.
He'd met up with Mia Pearson, a communications consultant from Fort Frances, Ont., and shared this observation.
“She said 'I'm not going to talk to you again until you start a company,'” Wilkin said.
“Within five minutes of that cup of coffee she had me completely clear on my next steps — on what to do to change how the next generation could unlock opportunity.”
That was the genesis of Redwood, which focuses on helping companies such as PepsiCo Inc. and Samsung Canada communicate and market to young people.
Now Wilkin is focused on helping other young people — or anyone wanting to take their career in a new direction — to meet with government and business leaders over coffee to receive advice on how to achieve their ambitions.
On Jan. 21, he launched a website called Ten Thousand Coffees, a sort of “dating site” for professional connections.
Those looking for career advice can request to have coffee — or at least speak over Skype — with hundreds of experts.
Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, astronaut Chris Hadfield, Olympic gold medallist Mark Tewksbury and CBC personalities Rick Mercer and George Stroumboulopoulos are among the experts listed on the website.
Literally, not a single CEO said no when approached to participate in the project, Wilkin said.
To increase the chances of an expert agreeing to a coffee date, Ten Thousand Coffees offers advice on the best way for people to present their ideas and what they're looking for.
The meetings also go the other way: business and government leaders are also able to glean ideas from the next generation.
“That's what this is all about — making it easier for the leaders of today to meet the leaders of tomorrow,” Wilkin said.
The response to the website's launch has been incredible, he said.
“Every single number that we had in mind has been way over target,” Wilkin said.
For more information, visit www.tenthousandcoffees.com.