Emily Lycopolus is co-owner of Olive The Senses Gourmet Foods Ltd. in Victoria, BC. The company offers a variety of luscious olive oil products such as fresh, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, tasty jams and spreads and delectable skin care. (Image of owners Stephen and Emily Lycopolus courtesy of Olive The Senses).
It’s clear that Lycopolus oozes passion for olive oil. Her family own a lush olive grove in Fano, Italy and when she was on vacation from her then-home of Germany, she would visit the grove and have access to a wealth of fresh, extra virgin olive oil. But she feels that she took the gift of delicious olive oil for granted. When arriving back in Canada, Lycopolus wondered why olive oil tasted so strange, “It was like nothing that we had become accustomed to and sadly (we) came up with a lot of unfortunate information about the olive oil community (and the quality of olive oil).”
Lycopolous spent months researching olive oil focusing on its chemistry and sensory analysis as defined by the international olive oil council standards (IOOC). She found that most countries surprisingly didn’t enforce the IOOC standards. Wanting to set a precedent in quality olive oil, Lycopolus decided to turn a problem into an opportunity. She started hunting for ways to source fresh olive oil and quality food products that went above and beyond anything she could get locally and founded Olive The Senses.
Lycopolus was never shy about learning from other people. She remembers: “As a child I was encouraged to interact with adults and learn from them.” So getting a mentor from Futurpreneur Canada was a natural progression for the intelligent CEO. The two year mentorship drastically helped Lycopolus boost her success. “Alessandra my mentor was incredible. She happily put me in touch with many of her contacts to help with marketing and growing our base of connections in the food community in Victoria.” Lycopolus’s mentor also helped a great deal with classic new small business problems such as staffing issues, time management, focusing on priorities, and empowering employees.
Results and Success
So what is Lycopolus’s advice for new business owners? Find a mentor and find a good one. She thinks “(a) mentor needs to be someone who is passionate about your business…but most importantly someone who you are comfortable working with and opening up to.” Lycopolus felt her mentor was an extremely strong, focused entrepreneur. “(She was a) living example and (gave) me the opportunity to participate and put (methods) into practice.”
Lycopolus believes the ingredients of a successful mentorship are to “take the time to prepare for the conversations with your mentor, write questions, do your homework and make the conversations effective for you.” She thanks her mentor for helping her reach her goals of running a heartfelt business which educates the citizens of Victoria about the importance of real olive oil and quality imported food products. Lycopolus radiates appreciation for her mentor: “If it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t be where we are today. She is an invaluable resource.”