March 8, 2021 · Behind The Scenes, Success Stories, Tips & Insights

A Day in the Life of Entrepreneur Michele Romanow, President and Co-Founder of Clearbanc

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Running your own business is no easy feat. It takes a healthy dose of passion, discipline, and commitment. Ever wondered what a day in the life of a business owner and founder is like? We’re here to give you a glimpse! 

This week, we sat down with Clearbanc President and Co-founder Michele Romanow. Clearbanc is an Indiegogo partner that provides campaigners with advances so they can fund their marketing efforts. Clearbanc has invested more than $1.6B in over 4,000 founders. 

Michele is no stranger to entrepreneurship. She’s founded numerous businesses, including Buytopia.ca and SnapSaves (acquired by Groupon). She’s currently a cast member on Dragon’s Den (a.k.a., the Canadian Shark Tank) and she was named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2015.

Read on to see how she spends an entire day running her successful business. Then scroll down for a brief Q&A to get to know her better and get inspired by her entrepreneurship!

Michele Romanow on the set of Dragon’s Den

8 A.M. Wake up, and get ready to work out with my partner and co-founder Andrew D’ Souza.

9 A.M. Peloton class (Jess Sims is my fave!) and shower.

10 A.M. Zoom calls with partners.

11 A.M. Spreadsheet work.

12 P.M. Lunchtime. Usually I take a call while I eat.

1 P.M. More Zoom calls.

2 P.M. Creative brainstorming with my executive team.

3 P.M. Virtual Keynote speaking engagement.

4 P.M. Dealing with some unexpected disaster that came up! More meetings. Usually by this time of the day I’m doing more phone calls than Zoom.

5 P.M. Investor updates.

7 P.M. Make and eat dinner with Andrew.

9 P.M. Brainstorming work calls.

10 P.M. Emails and follow ups from the day.

12 A.M.  Get ready for bed. I put on my exercise clothes, so I can hit a Peloton class as soon as I’m up. I usually listen to Audible audiobooks before bed. I’m currently listening to Blitzscaling. 

1 A.M. Actually fall asleep. I’m a night owl, and I’ve tried every technique to make myself a morning person but I personally never found success with that.

Michele Romanow and co-founder Andrew D’ Souza with Mayor of Toronto John Tory

Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of what her day is like, get more inspiration in our exclusive Q&A with Michele!

INDIEGOGO: How and why did you become an entrepreneur? Was it something you always intended for yourself? 

MICHELE: I ended up studying engineering in undergrad because my parents heavily pushed me in that direction. But by the time I was in fourth year, I knew I was going to be better at building businesses vs. building bridges. During my last year in engineering school, I decided to open a zero-waste café on campus, known today as The Tea Room – it’s still there 14 years later! To get funding in the early days I entered a bunch of business plan competitions to raise funding. Although I didn’t win, my classmate Anatoliy Melnichuk pulled me aside and said to me, “Next year, we can beat these guys.”

The three of us spent countless all-nighters coming up with business ideas and cold-calling companies. Eventually, we discovered an opportunity. Anatoliy noticed a huge demand for sturgeon caviar but due to sturgeon overfishing, the entire world supply had declined by 95%. At this point I had never gone fishing in my life!  Fast forward six months later, we had a 50- page business plan and started entering business plan competitions. We ended up raising just over $100k which gave us the confidence to say no to our job offers and move to the East Coast and build a fishery from scratch. It was a great business until the 2008 crash and definitely my crash course into entrepreneurship. 

The entire Clearbanc team

INDIEGOGO: What makes your Clearbanc unique? 

MICHELE: Everybody wants a teammate. Someone at the end of the day that you know without a doubt they are on your side. And that’s what I want Clearbanc to be for founders. We work based on a revenue share plan. That means in order for Clearbanc to do well, our founders need to do well. At the end of the day, I can tell you as many times as you want that I am here for you and your business. But, I wanted to build a business where I can show you that with numbers, because every entrepreneur knows that the numbers don’t lie. Your success is Clearbanc’s success.

INDIEGOGO: What’s your biggest piece of advice for women who want to start their own business?

MICHELE: When you have an idea, the most important thing is to just start. It seems so scary because it never feels like the “right time” and you never feel ready, but it’s the process of jumping in that forces you to start iterating on an idea. The fear of failure is always much worse than having your first product fail, because you learn something in the process. This advice came from my parents. Even though they weren’t entrepreneurs, they encouraged me to pursue my crazy idea to start a fishery after college, instead of taking a real job. I think my whole career would have been different if I didn’t take this first jump into being a founder (and by the way, the fishery failed!). 

INDIEGOGO: What tools (gadgets, apps, books, podcasts) would you recommend to anyone starting their own business or crowdfunding campaign? 

MICHELE: I love stories of incredible entrepreneurs so I’m always digging to get inspired and motivated. I love founder stories that are written with total honesty. I think Chip Wilson’s book on building Lululemon (Little Black Stretchy Pants) and the Walter Isaacson book on Steve Jobs are great examples. It’s the real story — not the glossy one — that reminds you that even the most successful companies had so many moments when they nearly didn’t make it.

INDIEGOGO: What’s your favorite Indiegogo campaign, or a campaign you’ve recently supported?

MICHELE: My favourite Indiegogo campaign that we have supported at Clearbanc is Marlow, a campaign for lubricated tampons! 

To learn more about Clearbanc, check out their website or read more about them in the Indiegogo Experts Directory. If you’re a campaigner, find out if you’re eligible for Clearbanc funding here.