Royal Roads launches online mentor scholarship

May 30, 2011

Nancy Mudford knows business, for all of its quirks, glories and frustrations.

In 2003, she opened Le Petite Spa in Vancouver with no formal business education, limited knowledge of the spa world and a whole lot of ideas. Her first year was marred with stress and bad luck - she was robbed on her opening day - but those experiences have allowed her to grow as much as her business did.

"We do $1.2 million in revenues and we win awards now," she said.

In 2005 she launched her second business, Spa Boutique, because she was having trouble sourcing quality supplies for her spa. The online store, which also brings in more than $1 million in revenues, supports a warehouse and storefront.

Now a student in Royal Roads MBA program, Mudford's resume caught the eye of Geoff Archer, director of the Eric C. Douglass Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies. He selected her as the first Entrepreneur in Virtual Residence (EiVR) scholarship recipient for the university. The EiVR idea is modeled after a common practice in the Venture Capital community where a seasoned business person is brought into a company to help mentor start-up leaders, Archer explained. Royal Roads brought the idea online in keeping with its programming, allowing people to access this mentorship through direct online contact and speaking engagements, Archer said.

"We have already engaged Nancy at least twice now, and we expect more of the same... this is her role for this year, to provide advice," he said.

Mudford has a lot of knowledge and experience to share, starting with her philosophy that business owners should work on their business, not in their business.

"That's the only way you can grow it," she said.

Since 2003, she has developed working strategies for staff and financial management that have taken a lot of the surprises out of her work day, but Mudford knows she needs to learn more to advance her businesses.

"The skill sets I have today will keep me chugging along. This year we are going to hit $2 million, but I am not sure I can get it to $10 million (without further education)," she said. "It's not a small business anymore."

The MBA program is already enhancing the way she does business and Mudford is particularly keen to learn more about the global trends affecting her industry. The world is changing so fast and you need to be ready for anything, she said.

"As an entrepreneur you need to be ready for hard work and sacrifice. You need to be resilient because you are going to be knocked down so many times you aren't going to be able to count anymore and you need to be able to stand up the next day and just keep going."

To be a successful business person you need to be open to learning, she said. You need to be flexible and adapt to new situations. And while Mudford is happy to be a in a position to help other people start their own projects, she hesitates on helping too much.

"I think the naivety was part of my success, not being too prepared," she said. "You have to be willing to take the risk."

Mudford will hold the inaugural Entrepreneur in Virtual Residence position for 2011 and Royal Roads University is looking for suggestions on future recipients. Tuition-credit scholarships are available to Bachelor of Commerce and MBA students with a solid entrepreneurial track record, regardless of industry.

"This is a person that facilitates entrepreneurship, so if you are reading this and you have a startup you would like some help with please be in touch with our office," Archer said.

For more information contact the Eric Douglass Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies at 250-391-2600 ext. 2645 or email