Since 2014, Christian has been teaching martial arts, meditation, Qi gong, and essential life skills to help kids with special needs. In this interview, discover his background and his company!
How would you describe what you do?
I teach a specialized movement therapy program called Conquer the Dragon for children with special needs. This program includes the study of martial arts, meditation, Qi gong, stage performance, and essential life skills.
How did you get the idea of starting your business?
After seeing some of my friends and family helpless from the lack of opportunities that public schools offer their children with special needs to help them succeed academically, I began to think of a program to support them in their education, but also to help them avoid becoming victims of harassment as a vulnerable population.
What’s your greatest pride?
I have taught hundreds of children with special needs for 17 years. My greatest pride is with one of my students, autistic, very introverted, who after 1 year of training was able to demonstrate martial arts to an audience of 300 people.
What’s your biggest accomplishment?
A great achievement is to have received official recognition from several organizations, such as the Ministry of Family Development with funding for my program for children with autism. I was also supported through the endorsement of UBC Sports Medicine, Professor Jacques Taunton, the Association for Children with Learning Difficulties in BC and the Self Design learning community.
Have you encountered any obstacles?
Being alone without competition is an obstacle because it is a very specialized, very regulated, and very closed industry, which does not allow the self-employed to enter so easily. It took many years to prove that my program brought children in difficulty with tangible results to finally gain approvals and recognition.
What has been your biggest challenge?
I believe the COVID-19 crisis is my biggest challenge. It’s a real 360-degree turn. I had to adapt my program drastically to continue to help children with protocols and rules, and these have heavily affected my productivity.
I have to think about new ways of teaching to generate revenue that will allow me to finance my program in the long run.
Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
I would have liked to have had business partners to help me increase my workload, promote on a larger scale and support me financially.
What are your projects for the future of your business?
I have a project, with a team of professionals, to start a movement academy for children with special needs where we will offer specialized physical and artistic activities adapted to the needs of autistic, dyslexic, ADD and OCD children.
What advice would you give to people who want to start a business?
Write down your project clearly. Make a complete business plan and a financial projection over 3 years. Have at least 6 months of cash on hand and have a lawyer and an accountant. Most importantly, evaluate all the risks you will encounter during the operation of your new business such as COVID. This is the minimum you should do, otherwise, it’s over!
What lessons do you draw from your experience?
Any success requires constant effort, sacrifices and a lot of realism.
Even with your values, it’s not all conquered, you need a little luck too. My job is 20% expertise and 80% communication. So, I learned not to be discouraged by the problems of everyday life, and always to move towards your goal, whatever the circumstances. Having your own company is not for everyone, because you give a lot of your own time and person.
Questions relating to the SDECB
What role did the SDECB take in the creation or development of your business?
The SDECB helped me at the beginning when I had to build my business plan and as well with a former business advisor who accompanied me throughout the stages of my company. I recommend the services of the SDECB because it is the only business support organization that offers services in French in Vancouver.
What should we wish you for the future?
To obtain at least $100,000 in financing to set up my school for children with special needs in 2022.