Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Richard Loat, who launched Five Hole for Food to combine Canadians’ passion for hockey with their desire to instigate social change. How, exactly? Find out in today’s profile…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Five Hole for Food travels across North America, shuts down the busiest pedestrian intersections we can find, and sets up a rink asking people to bring their hockey sticks and a donation for the food bank in order to come play hockey.
Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
During the Olympics in Vancouver I would set up pick up ball hockey games on Granville Street and realized the power hockey had to bring the country together and potential it had to be a vehicle for social change not only in Vancouver but across Canada.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I’m lucky, I get to travel across Canada and play hockey with some incredible people from coast-to-coast. That’s pretty special. The hardest part is having to stop touring across Canada and wait a whole year to do it again.
Where do you see your business going in five years?
Five Hole for Food started in 2010 with humble beginnings. We raised 6,000 pounds of food and it was the start of something special. Our 2011 tour raised 43,000 pounds of food, and in 2012 we raised over 133,000 pounds of food. Riding that momentum, our 2013 tour, which finished just recently, raised nearly 350,000 pounds of food and I think that’s indicative of a couple of things. Firstly, Canadians are passionate about hockey and want to turn that passion into action. Secondly, there’s a need for the food banks and the fact that we’re able to help them at their greatest time of need is what’s special about this. Five Hole for Food is going to be heading into its fifth anniversary, and I don’t doubt that it will only be bigger and better five years from now.
What does success look like to you?
The group we run is entirely volunteer. I manage a team of 50 people with some of the highest calibre of skill sets and it’s truly remarkable to see that brought together. For us, success is a collaborative effort bringing together a common passion and turning that into immediate community action. If we’re able to increase what we raise by one single pound of food, we’ve put more food on the shelves than were there before and that’s what we set out to do.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
For an organization that was never planned or meant to be started, it’s been milestone after milestone unto itself. It’s been special in just three years to raise over half a million pounds of food and I’m looking forward to a fifth anniversary tour where we can raise our millionth pound of food.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I have two things for young professionals:
1. There’s no such thing as a bad idea. There are only ideas that others are afraid to try because they’re scared of how incredible they can be.
2. Play with LEGO. It will never stop being awesome. Don’t loose that child-like optimism and view of the world where anything is possible – because everything is possible.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Five Hole for Food is a non-profit organization that’s aimed at redefining the giving process and creating an experience around giving.
What is Notable to you?
I don’t want to be just a game changer, I want to be a world changer. I’m not bold enough to say that I’m particularly notable, but I’m excited to push the envelope and try things that haven’t been done before. We’re so quick to do things the way in which we’re told. We prescribe to the pre-disposed rules of engagement that we’re given and live to the adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I don’t think that’s necessarily the best way to do it and I’m excited to try to traverse frontiers that people haven’t yet tackled.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
I’m an iPhone guy at the moment, but am starting to love the Android. I started with a BlackBerry though, so at this point I’m running the gamut.
How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
I’m an ideas guy. I love experimenting with different ideas and I have a project idea blog that I use to keep some of my ideas going. It’s a lot of fun trying to tackle the world every day when you have different creative social experiments on the go. I love to be outdoors and in the summer am usually on the lake. In the winter you can find me on the mountain snowboarding.