In this series, our collaborator Carolyne Brown meets the Local Talents—flagship stores in the heart of Mail Champlain. These interviews are all about sharing, sincerity and proximity. We invite you to enter their world and discover who they are.
Let’s meet Daniel Mongrain, owner of Clip ‘n Climb.
My wife and I wanted a career change to be able to live by our own values. Climbing started out as a purely recreational hobby. When we founded our company Clip ‘n Climb, we had no experience and we knew we had to work with an expert in the field. So we found our partner and expert climber, Marc-André Roy, who worked for a long time at Arbraska. The three of us make a great team because we each have our own expertise. I manage the administration, finances, and strategic development; Isabelle takes care of human resources, while Marc-André is the operational expert. He oversees the customer experience and the expertise of our employees.
What makes your brand stand out?
Large industries are highly focused on performance. But for us, life is about being happy, surrounding ourselves with happy people, making people feel happy; that's the core value of our company and I think that's what sets us apart.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to face in your career as an entrepreneur?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the toughest challenge. The hardest part was not having to be closed down, since the government was very supportive during that period. What was truly difficult, however, was having to close and reopen our doors several times. We built a great team and each time, our employees lost their jobs and we had to start over. For the last two years, we've been constantly rebuilding. We signed the lease with Mail Champlain a few months before everything closed, we finished construction in February 2021, and we were unable to open until June 2021.
One of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur is to surround yourself with the right people. When you find a killer team, it's important to keep the connections going. The second thing is humility. It's very important to be more self-critical than anyone else. When it's time to make a decision, you have to ask yourself if it's the right one. You have to be strict with yourself. And if it turns out that it wasn’t the right decision, you have to be flexible and readjust yourself. You have to keep improving.
This is an anecdote that warms my heart. When we celebrated our 5th anniversary in Laval, we invited all the former Clip ‘n Climb members. People came in great numbers to celebrate our anniversary. To see how much we had touched the lives of each of these people and influenced their development was extraordinary
The carpenters' motto, “measure twice, cut once” is certainly true with entrepreneurship. It is absolutely essential to make a business plan. You should never simply take a template. The business plan is very important because it will save you headaches and a lot of money. You must conduct your market research properly, think about how your product is presented and take your time before you start.
What keeps you passionate about your field?
What I like most is developing our brand. For example, we would love Clip ‘n Climb to be part of the events sector, like being present at major festivals. There are always new steps to explore, and business development is something I'm passionate about.
I love to see the reaction of people when they come in and see our climbing gym, especially the children! Their little faces light up and they become speechless - it's beyond their imagination! Something that also touches me is to read Facebook comments: there are always positive comments about our team. People come for the activity, but they come back for our team.
I'm not really a “secret” type of guy. I believe in communication because hiding information is not how I do things.
What is your most popular activity?
Our super challenge, what we call the vertical drop slide. It looks like a 30-ft high slide and there's a motor that pulls the person up the wall. Unlike a conventional slide with a 10-degree angle, our slide is perfectly perpendicular. This means that when you let go of the rope, you are in free fall until you're caught by the slide. It's an amazing feeling! When we host children's parties, the birthday boy or girl has free access to this activity. It is so high that everyone stops to watch the child doing the ride. They become the hero of the moment. Because of the health measures in place, it hasn’t been opened for two years - but we can't wait to open it again!