- Calgary Citizen
- Calgary entrepreneur is heading to the US after being chosen as one of 20 out of 10,000 for program
Calgary entrepreneur is heading to the US after being chosen as one of 20 out of 10,000 for program
It’s another feather in her cap after a particularly rewarding year.
Up-and-rising entrepreneur Bobbie Racette has been selected for the prestigious Ernst & Young (EY US) 2022 Entrepreneurial Winning Women program.
Each year, the program selects 20 high-potential women entrepreneurs and connects them with the advisors, access, and resources they need to continue to grow and scale their businesses.
Racette is the founder and CEO of the Calgary-based Virtual Gurus, which has also been earning accolades and growing each year since she launched the company herself six years ago.
Virtual Gurus is a talent marketplace that leverages proprietary technology to match organizations with highly skilled Canadian and American virtual assistants.
An honour to be recognized
Racette tells Calgary Citizen she is honoured to be chosen among the other female entrepreneurs selected for the organization’s 15th iteration of the program.
“EY has selected an amazing group of women and I’m proud and excited to be amongst them. To see such a phenomenal, diverse selection of women is really inspiring and aligned with our company values,” she says, adding she was chosen from over 10,000 applicants.
“I was surprised and humbled to see that almost all of the women in my group were around the same scale as us, revenue wise. So, it felt good to be in a room full of a bunch of other co-founder women who are killing it as well.”
By engaging in the program, participants receive tailored executive education and introductions to the massive EY global entrepreneurial ecosystem, as well as the Winning Women community around the world.
Learning from other entrepreneurs
The chosen 20 recently met each other in New York in preparation for this week’s Strategic Growth Forum.
“There’s quite a few predominant women that get accepted into this program and we got to meet the others in our cohort and there was an instant connection,” Racette says, adding it’s a good opportunity to grow her business even further.
Racette was in Palm Springs this week along with the other entrepreneurs selected for the Strategic Growth Forum.
“We spent two days where we had training on pitching our business properly… and how we are going to sell what we do at the conference.”
Racette says it’s not only a benefit to receive this type of training, but also to be around other like-minded women.
“Being a founder is probably one of the loneliest feelings. So, when you’re put into a room with other women founders who are scaling like you, so much can come from it,” she says.
“Nobody really understands the lonely part of it other than another co-founder that’s going through it themselves. And so there was a lot of bonding, a lot of getting to know everybody.”
Dedicated to giving opportunities to underrepresented people
The Class of 2022 features 18 fast-growing companies led by women across Canada and the US, touching an array of industries.
Many share the common thread of focusing on social good and sustainability issues, such as disabilities and workplace equity, which is one of the strengths of Racette’s company.
Virtual Gurus creates meaningful earning opportunities for under-represented people while priding itself on championing BIPOC people, people from the LGBTQ2S+ community, single and stay-at-home parents, and those with alternate abilities.
“That is my ‘why’ and I will never change that. That’s what gets me out of bed every day and what sets us apart from our competitors,” Racette says.
When Racette started her company in 2016 after being laid off from the oil and gas field, she wanted to help others who had barriers similar to hers.
A proudly Indigenous member of the LGBTQ2S+ community, Racette has encountered many roadblocks on her path to success.
“There were a lot of barriers to getting to where I am today. So, my thing is lifting other people up, especially people who have often been overlooked,” she adds.
This isn’t the only success this year
Virtual Gurus recently closed an $8.4-million Series A funding round, following the company’s official expansion into the United States in 2021. Racette is the first Indigenous woman to accomplish that feat.
“That’s also been getting us a lot of attention,” Racette says, adding she hopes the recent attention will help her company close out its Series B funding round.
Racette recently finished the yearlong International Women’s Forum program that saw her graduate from Harvard and INSEAD in France.
She recently won the LGBT Founder of the Year for Canada award, and this week she was also named Indigenous Icon of the Year.
She’s also heading to Toronto in a couple of weeks where she is up for the RBC Momentum award.
“It’s been a whirlwind year,” Racette adds.
Celebrating female entrepreneurs
EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women North America program leader Maranda Bruckner says this past year has been filled with economic ups and downs, and this year’s EY class is a testament to resilience.
“These entrepreneurs effectively navigate challenges and scale profitable, high-growth companies while demonstrating the grit, drive, and resilience needed for ongoing success. They are rewriting rules and reshaping markets,” she says.
“We have no doubt that these women will continue to change the world.”
The program serves women business owners who are founding CEOs of any US or Canadian privately held company that is 10 years old or younger with revenues ranging from $2 million to $30 million.