For Michele Romanow, co-founder of Buytopia.ca, there are three words that easily describe both her and her business. “Fun, hardworking, and bold,” she says in her breezy, upbeat tone.
After speaking with her it is hard to disagree that her approach to business is one grounded in hard work. At only 27 this businesswoman has achieved goals that most people twice her age can only dream of. An entrepreneur starting from her days as a student—while completing her undergrad, she started the Tea Room, a zero consumer waste coffee shop—she is now at the helm of her third successful business venture with Buytopia.ca and the key to her success is hard work.
“You always want to be adding the most value,” she advises women who aspire for greatness. “If you’re that person making sure projects always get things done and driving the relationships — if you are constantly the most valuable team member, it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or not.”
For Romanow, being bold is a second nature. “I think that we’re bold when we go out to find the best deals for Buytopia. We try to be innovative for brands and I think that’s a huge part of what has made us successful and a huge part of what makes our business work.”
But to her, boldness stems from her personality. Her strong interpersonal skills shine through in every situation, giving her the advantage of winning over others in every walk of life. “I think I’m just a naturally social person. I enjoy meeting people and hearing their stories, and I think that has given me an advantage in business.”
“I’m a natural extrovert, which means I come up with my best ideas by talking and sharing with people. What really balances my life are the people in it.”
And an advantage it has been. With Buytopia approaching 2 million subscribers the bond that Romanow forges between her company and Buytopia’s users is built upon the strength of communication, trust and, of course, great deals. By striking out to create the same kinds of bonds with national brands Romanow has successfully created a chain of trust from retailer to consumer that is unparalleled in Canadian business.
Romanow’s fun side is also displayed up front and centre. Her infectious laugh and easy demeanour puts others at ease. While many other 27-year-old women might balk at receiving a Mother’s Day note from an employee, to her it is a symbol of something more. “I think of my team at work as family.” As for her real family, she laughs as she explains the universally humbling nature of siblings despite the fantastic level of success she has achieved: “There’s nothing like a sibling to put you in your place.”
In her downtime she switches gears ever so slightly from running a business to running half marathons. For her, running is a calming, focusing experience. “Your body just falls into a rhythm,” she explains of her favourite pastime.
Buytopia is unique in the way it approaches the daily deals business, a field that can be tricky to master. By focusing on delivering quality unique experiences to subscribers they’ve managed to keep the colourfully decorated website in the hearts and minds of members even when they are offline.
“On Buytopia you should be buying things that make your life more wonderful: be it a spa packages or great restaurants, we want you to discover that gem in the city that you’ve never expected and try it out at half price. I want the website to have great pictures and be easy to use for a seamless experience. I don’t want you to be spending time there; I want you to be spending time in your life discovering these great services.”
On the future of web-based businesses, Romanow is looking up. “I’m optimistic the internet will have a lot of wonderful surprises in the years to come.”
Right now it seems like two lovely surprises, Michele Romanow and Buytopia.ca, are already here.