Forget the American Dream - Canada is the true place of opportunity. A study conducted by BMO Harris Private Banking determined that around 68% of Canadian millionaires are self-made.
The study also notes that almost half of these millionaires hold some sort of graduate or professional degree. All the more reason to stay in school, kids.
Several of these go-getters have some connection to Toronto. Some of them lived in the 416 at some point in time, while others experienced their rise to riches there. Here are 8 self-made millionaires (or billionaires) from Toronto to get you motivated, in no particular order:
Photo cred - Forbes
1. Mark Scheinberg
Mark Scheinberg is an Israeli-Canadian businessman who co-founded the online gambling website PokerStars. In 1988, he and his father moved to Richmond Hill, and they created the website 13 years afterward. Within that time, Mark travelled all over the world; dropping out of Fanshawe College just after a year and immersing himself in the gambling industry instead. PokerStars ended up becoming the biggest online gambling site in the world. Forbes gave him a Self-Made Score of 8, indicating that they consider his claim to fame a truly self-made endeavour.
2. Victoria Sopik
Victoria Sopik built an empire to call her own. In 2002 she founded Kids & Company, a high-quality daycare service based in Toronto. Having 8 children of her own, Sopik immediately saw the potential of the child care industry and worked to create a service that incorporated excellent staff, high quality equipment and, of course, lots and lots of toys. In just 11 years, Sopik has managed to expand her brand across Canada, opening 50 daycare centres nationwide.
3. Michael Hyatt
Michael Hyatt is much more than just a Dragon on Dragon's Den. He became a self-made millionaire at just 25 years old, having created the tech company Dyadem International Ltd with his brother. They later sold the company in 2011 to IHS Inc. in Colorado. Hyatt did not stop there, however - he immediately started another software company called BlueCat, which he is now the CEO of. Hyatt currently lives in Toronto, which is where his current business also operates out of.
4. Ann Kaplan
Ann Kaplan is one heavily decorated entrepreneur, and for good reason too. She is the CEO and president of iFinance Canada, which specializes in loans for clients with dental, health or veterinary needs. Kaplan's genius led to iFinance's colossal success - since it was launched, it has generated over one billion dollars worth of consumer loan applications. Currently, she is pursuing a doctorate to add on to her Masters of Science in Business and her MBA. She also resides in Toronto.
5. Glynn Williams
Glynn Williams is no stranger to risk. The Toronto multimillionaire has invested $8 million into Guysborough, a not-so-booming rural town in Nova Scotia. I wouldn't be too worried about it though - Williams is a UofT engineering alumnus and is the founder and CEO of Reliance Aerotech Inc., an aerospace industry leader that focuses on the maintenance, service and repair of civilian and military aircraft. So far, he's created 40 new jobs in Guysborough under his Authentic Seacoast Company, and is hoping to drastically increase that number in the next few years. In the long run, he hopes to help many other struggling coastal towns across Canada.
Photo cred - Amoryn Engel
6. Susan Niczowski
Susan Niczowski, a Downsview native, is the founder and president of Summer Fresh Salads Inc. She started off as a food microbiologist at Shopsy's, a division of Maple Leaf Foods, where she put her chemistry degree from UofT to good use. The role perhaps inspired her to create a food company that focused on freshly prepared foods for the health-conscious consumer. Today, Summer Fresh Salads Inc. operates out of a 63,000 square foot facility, and its products are sold under private label to big name grocery chains.
7. Haroon Mirza
Haroon Mirza is a force to be reckoned with. He became a self-made millionaire by the age of 29, after creating a revolutionary tech that he later sold to Intel. Mirza majored in corporate finance at Carleton University in Ottawa and moved to Toronto in 2004, where he took on the role of senior financial analyst at Cadbury. He didn't stay at that post for long, however - he dropped the job to work on creating a piece of tech that would help retail stores analyze their consumer traffic and monitor other consumer-based stats.
8. Kelsey Ramsden
Kelsey Ramsden has a whole list of self-established companies under her belt. She is the founder of 4 successful companies - kellyramsden.com (business services website), SparkPlay (children's subscription company), Belvedere Place Development (construction firm) and Tallus Ridge Development (residential project management company). Ramsden comes from a family of entrepreneurs and decided to follow in their footsteps. She has an MBA from Western's Ivey School of Business and currently resides in London, Ontario.