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Former CBC Dragon and Joe Fresh founder pays it forward

Joe Mimran made his Dragons' Den debut in 2015 (Reuters)

A trio of contest-winning Canadian small businesses are about to get a helping hand from Joe Mimran—a man who knows a thing or two about starting a business.

Happipad Technologies, SenseTech Solutions, and Animora were chosen out of 1,100 entries. On top of Mimran’s mentorship, they won $20,000 worth of tech and services from Staples.

Mimran, the founder of Club Monaco and Joe Fresh who had a stint on Dragons’ Den, has enjoyed great success as an entrepreneur and wants to pay it forward.

“The mentoring process is an interesting one, because it doesn't take as much time as people think to get somebody on the right path,” Mimran told Yahoo Finance Canada.

“It can really make a big difference to a young entrepreneur.”

The winners fly into Toronto next week to meet with Mimran, a city he says is second only to Silicon Valley for young entrepreneurs.

“There is such an exuberance and it’s great to see so many young businesses really blossom here.”

“They’ve got so many options for raising capital in terms of accelerated programs being available.”

Mimran also shared some important advice for budding entrepreneurs.

“Be passionate about what you want to do, make sure you're serving a need in the market, don't fall in love with your own product without validating it,” he said.

“Have the confidence in whatever you've come up with that you can be successful. Ensure you've got a long-term vision for your plans and know how to build a proper business plan so that you can raise the right amount of capital.”

What is SenseTech Solutions

SenseTech Solutions’ four founders met as undergrads at York University, where they worked on a project for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

Ali Raza Syed, Rui Amoah, Robert Ingino and Rijul Aggarwal are SenseTech Solutions' founders. (SenseTech Solutions)

The company develops accessible virtual reality and augmented reality simulations for individuals with disabilities.

Robert Ingino, one of SenseTech Solutions’ founders, says he’s excited to be among the winners and to tap Mimran’s expertise.

“Joe will help us expand our business across different locations within our market,” Ingino told Yahoo Finance Canada.

“We want to beef up our business model, so that way we can have our long-term plan inside the business.”

Ingino says SenseTech’s next steps include an expansion into the U.S. and across different disability groups.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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