2018 Emerging Entrepreneur Category Finalists

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Amy Friesen

Tea & Toast Inc.

Jennifer McGahan

Principal/ Owner
Jennifer McGahan Interiors

Stayci Keetch

CEO and Creative Director
On Brand by Stayci Keetch

For the last 15 years, Amy Friesen has been looking out for the best interests of Ottawa’s seniors – continually striving to create better ways to ensure they are well cared for. As a graduate of The University of Ottawa with a BA in Psychology as well as a Business Marketing diploma from Algonquin College, Amy knew she had a calling to work with seniors, the tricky part was how?

After graduation, and for the next 9 years, Amy worked in the retirement home industry across Ottawa. Families were continually coming in, stressed from trying to navigate the entire retirement living process. Amy saw an opportunity to help, and in 2014, chose to leave the retirement home industry and launch Tea & Toast; a caring, personalized local search service to help ease the decision-making process regarding retirement living.

Amy had two main goals when starting her company. 1. To give the community the education, clarity and help they needed when it came to retirement living, and 2. To be the type of leader who inspires, encourages and motivates her team.

Amy and her team have assisted more than 500 families in the Ottawa area to find the best retirement home to fit their needs. The Tea & Toast process ultimately reduces frustration, doubt, guilt and stress for seniors and most often their children.

As senior needs are always on Amy’s mind, the Tea & Toast team are currently expanding into long term care home navigation. Additionally, Amy has recently launched TheLocalSenior.com, an online directory site aimed at bringing all senior services to one platform, throughout Canada.

As a regular presence in the seniors’ community, Amy was recently recognized for her support to seniors by The Good Companions, naming her the recipient of the Corporate Engagement Award of Excellence. Specifically for her assistance with the Santa 4 Seniors program which saw $9000 raised to give 350 isolated seniors in Ottawa a Christmas gift, some of whom haven’t received a gift in over 20 years. Additionally for her leadership and assistance, as a result of the 2018 tornado she assembled and lead a team of over 100 volunteers to get food and water to 5 seniors’ apartment buildings in Ottawa who had no elevators or lights, some seniors living as high as the 22nd floor and in wheelchairs.

A member of Informed opinions, an organization striving to increase women’s voices in media and The Worldwide Association of Female Professionals, an international organization empowering women to turn the tides and become executives. Amy has been featured multiple times in local media including Rogers Day Time, The Ottawa Citizen and CTV – not only to discuss Tea & Toast, but also important and timely issues affecting older adults’ mental and physical well-being.

Jennifer McGahan is passionate about evolution in all its forms. She believes that we are continually evolving as people throughout our lives, and she embraces change and growth in pursuit of personal improvement. Her business is a literal embodiment of this passion – since Interior Design is all about change as a method to re-envision and re-invent a space. The evolution that takes place during a renovation can be quite emotional, and life changing for the family who lives in the home. Jennifer graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1996 and cut her renovation chops by flipping properties. Her passion for design led her to Algonquin college where she studied AutoCAD and Design. Jennifer incorporated Jennifer McGahan Interiors Inc. in 2015, and has grown the business to 1.4M in annual revenue since then. Her work has been featured in the Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa At Home Magazine, Luxe Magazine, and on CTV. Jennifer lives and works in Stittsville, On, with her two teenaged boys.

Stayci is the CEO and Creative Director of On Brand by Stayci Keetch (formerly Eyes on Ottawa), and as such she leads a team of creative professionals to deliver high end marketing to small to mid size businesses. On Brand is disrupting the traditional advertising agency advertising model, as their innovative process allows for high end marketing to be done at a more reasonable cost.

Stayci launched her career in television broadcasting in 1998, and her experience has kept stride with the charging pace of technology ever since. She has worked for YTV, produced TV shows for HGTV and The Food Network Canada, and produced documentaries for TVO. In the world of web and Online connections, Stayci has managed websites and client brands from the Canadian Museum of Nature to international diamond security firms.

On Brand by Stayci Keetch started in 2015 and has been acknowledged by the West Ottawa Board of Trade in 2018 as a Company to Watch finalist, the Orleans Chamber of Commerce in 2018 as finalist for Businesswoman of the year, and  Stayci received the coveted Forty under 40 award from the Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce in 2018. In 2018 Stayci was profiled in the Ottawa Business Journal with the 2 page feature titled “Ottawa entrepreneur Stayci Keetch grows side-hustle video firm into full-fledged business”. 

On top of being a wife, mother, and running her own company, Stayci is an active member of the Ottawa community and an ambassador for the Ottawa Board of Trade. She supports a number of local causes including the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, Ottawa Food Bank, Barrhaven Food Cupboard, Ottawa Hospital, Harmony House, and Relief efforts after hurricanes in Dominica.


For the purpose of this category, “Emerging Entrepreneur” is defined as a person who organizes and operates an emerging business or group of businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so. All BYA Emerging Business Entrepreneur nominees must satisfy the following criteria:

    • Must be a founder of her business and must be a significant equity stakeholder in her business
    • The business has been in operation for less than 5 years
    • Must be actively involved in running the business

Previous Award Recipients

Jocelyne Doyle-Rodrigue
President, Exelcom/Translex

Diane Phillips
Director, IBI Group Architects

Kim Dixon
Vice President Marketing, TalkSwitch

Donna Hicks
Owner, Fantasy in Foliage Inc.

Julie Tubman
President, Tubman Funeral Homes & Cremation

Judy Richards
Owner, Davidson’s Jewellers

Betty Gittens
Chairperson, Help the Aged, Canada

Kristine van der Pas-Norenius
President, Tulips and Maple Inc.

F. Jennifer Lynch, Q.C.
Partner, Lang, Michener, Honeywell, Wotherspoon

Claudia McKeen
President, Glebe Apothecary

Jean Piggot
Chairperson, NCC

Leslie Coates
President, Manotick Travel & Cruise Centre

Michelle Valberg
Owner, Valberg Imaging Inc.

Neta Clark
President, Neta Clark Real Estate

Ann Callaghan
Principal, Callaghan Letellier Wiens Gibbons

Deborah Bourchier
Managing Partner, GGFL

Margo Crawford
President, CEO and Founder, Business Sherpa Group

Shana Levin
Vice President, Broadway Across Canada

Irene Martin
Owner/President, Retire-At-Home Services Inc.

June Lemmex
President, Lemmex & Associates

Jill Brown
City of Ottawa Councillor and President, Chuck Brown Golf

Mary Ellen Morris
Partner, BDO Ward Mallette

Rosemary Gravelle
Owner, Voc-Care Rehabilitation Centre

Janice B. Payne
Senior Partner, Nelligan O’Brien Payne

Mary Ann Turnbull
President, Turnbull Learning Centre

Robin McIntyre
Regional President, Rogers Communications Inc.

Heather Maclachlan
Former Co-Owner & Director of Catering, Mackay Street Epicura

Marion Balla
Owner, Alderian Centre for Counselling and Education

Shirley Westeinde
Owner, Westeinde Group of Companies

Carol McDonald
Partner, PriceWaterhouseCoopers

Frances Mae Balodis
Founder and International Director, Music for Young Children

Brenda Hollingsworth
Partner, Auger Hollingsworth

Erin Crowe
Executive Vice President, CFO and Alternate Governor, Senators Sports & Entertainment

Mia Hempey
President and CEO, CTE Solutions Inc.

Patricia Bood
Brookfield Renewable Energy Group

Lili-Ann Foster
President and CEO, Renaud Foster

Wendy Rogers
Owner & Physiotherapist, Access at Home Physiotherapy

Daphne Lainson
Lawyer & Partner, Smart & Biggar / Fetherstonhaugh

Barbara Mireault
Owner-President, The Fish Market Group of Restaurants

Suzanne Simpson
President/CEO, Human Resource Systems

Shannon Lambert
Co-Owner and VP Business Development, Veritaaq

Rebecca Page
Founder & CEO, Concierge Home Services

Kimothy Walker
News Producer and Anchor, CTV

Sheila Whyte
Owner, Thyme & Again Creative Catering

Betty Shields
President, Betty’s Kitchen

Jane McVeigh
Vice President, Human Resources, General Dynamics Canada

Melissa Clark
Wealth Advisor, RBC Dominion Securities

Luise Sander
Co-President, Sander Geophysics

Janet Yale
Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Telus

Marnie Bennett
Broker, Keller Williams Ottawa Realty Bennett Real Estate Professionals

Donna Holtom
Owner, Sante Restaurant, Holtz Health and Beauty Spa, The Sussex Club

Terri Storey
Executive Director, Terrace Youth Residential Services

Rosa Maria Iuliano
Partner, Collins Barrow

Caralyn Tierney
President/Owner, Caralyn’s Hair & Wig Design, Inc.

Frances Mannarino
Senior Commercial Account Manager, BMO Bank of Montreal

Candace Enman, CPA, CA
President, Welchgroup Consulting

Kyla Cullain
CEO & Co-Founder, Next Step Transitions

Jennifer Dalgleish
Co-Owner/Teacher, Pure Yoga

Vicky Kyriaco
General Manager & Chief Administrative Officer
Ottawa Student Transportation Authority

Linda Eagen
Founder Cancer Coaching, President & CEO
Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation

Donna baker
Keynote Group

Cathy Hay, ARIDO IDC,
President & Founder
Hay Design Inc

Karen Hennessey
Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP