A local entrepreneur has been named this year’s youngest recipient of the Ottawa Board of Trade’s top Forty under 40 award. Michelle Weger is the 29-year-old CEO of Venture Creative Collective, a web development and automation company that she started in 2012. After graduating from Dalhousie University, Michelle took some time to see the world and she started a travel blog that gained some popularity. When she was finally ready to stop travelling and settle down, she thought: why not build on the momentum she had found running her blog and help other companies develop their own websites. “I just expanded on what I was naturally good at,” she says.
Starting her own business was not only a goal for Michelle, it was also a necessity. Having been diagnosed with narcolepsy in her mid- twenties, she knew that she couldn’t keep up with a normal nine to five job. “You don’t get a restful sleep,” she says. “It’s like if you stayed up for 48 hours straight and also tried to do your work.” Most people with narcolepsy are either under or unemployed. “I knew I had to start my own business if I wanted to be successful.”
Michelle not only rose to the challenge, she also found that some of the automations she put in place to help her keep on top of things could also be helpful for other overworked business owners. “It’s about creating a business with the hand I have been dealt,” she says. “I have been automating things before it was a thing.” Michelle also helps her clients become more targeted and direct with their online marketing, which has paid off in a big way. Over the past eight years, she has helped many companies develop an online sales presence that has resulted in millions of dollars of revenue.
Venture Creative Collective is run from her home and has four full-time employees, all of whom work remotely. Michelle wants to provide the flexible work environment that she knows she needs for her staff as well. She is the cofounder of the Narcolepsy Awareness and Services organization, and often participates in many community Facebook groups. She also founded Entrepreneurs with Chronic Illnesses, Disorders and Disabilities, which she created to engage with fellow business owners.
Michelle found it extremely flattering to be one of Ottawa’s top forty under 40 this year. It was extra special for her because she was nominated by a client whose life has changed because of what she has created. “[That] made it even more special for me,” she says.
That feeling is what drives Michelle to keep growing and expanding her business. Many of her clients are small business owners who have been working 6-7 days a week for years. With her help, they are able to take much needed time off, without worrying that their business will collapse without them. “People finally get to have enjoyment out of the business they have built,” she says.