Spider-Man is no stranger to Simon Fraser University student Brenna Duperron. The superhero is one of many she calls on regularly in her role as head of Supermom Parties, a company she created to bring kids’ favorite heroes to life.
The English literature and communication student averages three or four parties a weekend and calls on the services of half a dozen university students to fill the superhero roles.
“The kids are loving the chance to play with their heroes,” says Duperron, who wanted to create a business and discovered her niche after finding while planning a birthday party for her son that nothing similar existed.
Duperron approached SFU’s Venture Connection program, which provided her with a co-op term to develop and pursue her idea. She had spent two co-op terms with companies prior to “taking the leap.”
With support from her family as she continued her studies, the business took off, as she completed several parties and secured several more bookings.
“We’ve come a long way since, and have developed some good relationships with customers. The interest is definitely there as we’re continuing to grow.”
Duperron’s biggest challenge is student turnover, as “some really good heroes” are moving on, having finished their degrees.
But challenges are all part of business, she said.
I am blessed to come from a family steeped in entrepreneurism. My father was the owner of Sprott-Shaw Community College until about 2008/2009, when he sold it to pursue new avenues. So, I had always been interested in the idea of running my own company.”
Duperron, who hopes to graduate next year, is one of a growing number of women becoming involved in entrepreneurial endeavours through SFU’s Venture Connection program. Recent stats show that women either founded or co-founded nearly half (14 of 33) of the teams in Venture Connection’s early-stage incubator. Ten have been signed on within the past few months.
With an investment from Coast Capital Savings, SFU’s Venture Connection program provides student-initiated businesses with links to experienced advisors, funding opportunities and other business connections.
“Brenna Duperron is a terrific example of how young female entrepreneurs are playing a vital role in our strong local economy,” said Tracy Redies, Coast Capital’s president and CEO.
A recent national study also found the number of self-employed women grew by 23 percent between 2001 and 2011, with the majority – like Duperron – wanting to do something they are passionate about.
“That’s me, without a doubt,” said Duperron, who, as a mom, loves to throw extravagant kids’ parties. “It’s about how to be the best mom possible while fulfilling myself personally.
“I’d say every mom who takes on the challenges of motherhood and maintaining or creating a unique identity as an independent woman is a Supermom.”