Ottawa Female Founder Fiona Gilligan Talks About the Challenges of Entrepreneurship with CFN

fiona-s1-362x300CFN –  Fiona Gilligan is a true rarity in Canada.   A self made woman who has juggled single parenting and creating a huge success story at a business level.

Her dad was a Canadian Forces Pilot and her mom taught Kindergarten; not the background of a powerhouse business person who can buy and sell businesses and give council to leaders.

But after selling her company; one of Canada’s largest ever Trauma services, she wondered what is the next chapter in her story and has focused on mentoring and coaching other entrepreneurs to become successful; something that she’s passionate about.

So much so that she’s quickly becoming an investor and mentor of choice in Canada for entrepreneurs.

She talked to CFN about how she got to where she is today and where she’s hoping to be tomorrow and about how truly important being an entrepreneur is from personal entrepreneurship to running multi-million dollar Canadian companies employing hundreds of people.

You can adjust the video up to HD quality!

Fiona talks a lot about breaking barriers which is a huge challenge for most entrepreneurs, male or female.  It’s not all red carpet, glory and riches. In fact most attempts at self-employment fail without the proper preparation and networking; something Ms Gilligan talks about one on one with entrepreneurs or when she speaks in public which she has been doing more and more which is why she was nominated in 2011 and in 2012 for the RBC  Top 100  Canadian Woman Entrepreneurs.

Fiona Gillign Ottawa Dec 2012

She’s also passionate about investing the profits from entrepreneurial success.  Her passion at this level is real estate where she made a huge splash in Ottawa after saving a historic block of apartments that were ravaged by fire.

Part 2 of our Interview

Right now she’s hard at work with a few projects that she’s an  investor in and belongs to a few Business Incubators in addition to her speaking appearances.

She’s also preparing a huge travelling project that will highlight Female Founders in Canada.

To read more about Ms Gilligan you can visit her website or Twitter @Fiona_Gilligan.


Milena Cardinal



  1. Great interview Jamie, if Fiona ever comes to the Cornwall area to do a presentation I would definitely go to hear her. I might even pay for the opportunity.

  2. Excellent questions, Jamie, and just in time.

    Early this morning, I read about the “tremendous job” the Seaway City has done at attracting even more stores like Big Lots, Sally Beauty and Future Shop. But are all these enough to address job losses in Cornwall and the fractured arm of entrepreneurism in a changing economy?

    I don’t know the answer. It just got me thinking.

    Fiona made some very interesting points.

  3. Many years ago, a friend of my family began a small business in the basement of the family home at 505 Guy Street. Her business soon outgrew the basement and she rented store space on McConnell Ave, south of Montreal Road. The business soon outgrew those premises an prompted a move to the NE corner of Montreal Road and McConnell Ave, the site now occupied by Masse Furniture.

    As her business continued to grow, she rented space on Pitt Street near the old City Hall building. Those premises soon became too small and she contracted to build a building on the south side of 8th Street, in the middle of the block to the west of Pitt Street. It was at this point in time that her husband, Edward, who had been employed at Domtar, joined her business named Glenan distributors, named after the family’s 2-children, Glen and Anne.

    Glen Katz and I were members of the same sports club. Our mothers were friends for many years until Mrs Audrey Katz, possibly Cornwall’s first lady entrepreneur succumbed to cancer at the age of 51. Ed Katz passed at age 89. Glen and his family now live in Alberta while Anne and her family live in Southern Ontario. During the early 1980’s, Ed Katz served a term as president of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce.

  4. I read the comments from Harry Valentine and the
    Information is not factual.
    I am the Anne in his story and it was not mom
    Mom that started the business it was my Dad
    Harry was a family friend of my brother
    and mom my and his mom where friends
    My dad started the business in the basement
    of our family home and him and my mom
    worked extremely hard to make it a
    Successful business
    Not to discredit my mom as she was an
    Inspiration to me as was my dad.
    I owe all that I am to both of them for
    Such strong roll models may they both
    Rest in peace.

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