Contributed by Marina Byezhanova, an EO Canada Bridge member in Montreal and the founder of Brand of a Leader, a personal branding agency that builds and scales the personal brands of entrepreneurs who inspire and make an impact. Marina is delighted to introduce a new member of her chapter, Brandan Ranaldi—a former GSEA competitor and EO Accelerator—who is now one of the youngest members in EO. Here’s what she shared:
(Photo: Marina prepares to toast the newest and youngest member of her chapter, Brandan Ranaldi.)
It’s a proud moment for EO Canada Bridge—the coolest chapter in the region, as we so proudly call it! We are excited to welcome our youngest chapter member yet, and I feel compelled to share his incredible success story with all of you globally.
Meet Brandan Ranaldi, a 23-year-old student entrepreneur. We first met Brandan when he competed in a local GSEA competition. We then welcomed him into an EO Accelerator class. And we are now thrilled to call him a peer as he joined EO as a member, not only meeting but vastly surpassing the qualifying criteria.
Here is his story.
Brandan Ranaldi always had a passion for being outdoors and working with wood. He, along with Justin Szekely, started building decks when they were only teenagers. Since they were too young to drive at the time, they biked to their job sites, balancing bags of tools on their handlebars.
Now, they own Ace of Decks Inc., one of Quebec’s largest deck-building companies. And they’ve accomplished this all before the age of 25 and while simultaneously juggling the demands of being full-time civil engineering students
That’s a story we will all be sharing with our kids, isn’t it?
According to the 2019 RBC Economics Research report with findings from Statistics Canada, Ranaldi is part of the glaring “1.7% of all entrepreneurs” in Canada who are under age 30. RBC attributes this low percentage to the financial duress that post-secondary education puts on aspiring entrepreneurs, impeding their ability to start businesses while still in school.
That is why programs such as EO Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) are impactful and incredibly necessary. As the premier global competition for students who own and operate a business while attending college or university full-time, GSEA offers young entrepreneurs the chance to receive financial relief, valuable connections and instrumental support.
Ranaldi and Szekely won their local GSEA competition and advanced into the Canadian national competition in January 2018. And although they did not go on to compete on the global stage, Ranaldi appreciated the opportunity to be a part of EO GSEA.
“GSEA brought a ton of value to us,” he shared. “Though the value didn’t have to do with winning GSEA Canada four years ago, the real value actually came from preparing for the presentation itself, refining our mission, our goals and our core values.”
Ranaldi was eager to join EO once his company reached the US$1 million revenue threshold.
“I wanted a seat at the table with other like-minded, driven and successful entrepreneurs,” he said, “a safe place to bounce ideas around, listen and share experiences we can all learn from.”
Ranaldi values the experiences EO provides as well as the ability to meet inspiring people with incredible stories. He participated in our first chapter retreat this year and fit right in—the instamacy (=instant intimacy) was unquestionable.
As he continues to grow Ace of Decks, Ranaldi has a big vision and an ambition to match it. He will be looking forward to his newly found community of EOers to guide him, share experiences, and support him throughout his journey.
On behalf of EO Canada Bridge and the EO community globally: Welcome to the family, Brandan!