Western helps grad rise to new challenges

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Western opened horizons Elliot Kimelman never expected to see, including viewing business through the eyes of a Dragon.

Moving from a 30-person high school graduating class in Manitoba to a mass gathering of freshman on UC Hill during O-Week, Kimelman had an immediate connection with the university community – a connection that would grow deeper over his time on campus.

“You can’t predict the future,” he said, “but chances are it will be even more exciting than you anticipated.”

On June 19, Kimelman will join more than 300,000 Western alumni living around the world as a newly minted graduate and member of the Western Class of 2020.

His love for business first grew while participating in Junior Achievement in high school. He liked selling things, talking to people, and being creative. “It was such a fun and rewarding experience. We got to plan something, build something new, and even got to write off some dinners,” he laughed.

There, he created the first iteration of C-Spray, an all-natural chlorine-eliminating body spray for swimmers.

Once at Western, Kimelman applied to Ivey Business School by way of Huron University College. That experience was a challenging one. “I felt everyone around me was so successful, even though we hadn’t even started school yet.”

While the two-year HBA program transformed his confidence and ability to think on his feet, it was a call from a Dragon that truly energized him.

A life-long Dragons’ Den fan, Kimelman never expected to get on the long-running CBC show. “While I had many objectives, the key one for me, honestly, was to see if I could do it.”

Flanked by swimwear models and a chemistry set, Kimelman pitched C-Spray on Dragons’ Den in November 2019, and accepted a deal from Dragon Michele Romanow.

“Obviously, there was a lot of work and time and money that got put into all that. But the most rewarding piece was the satisfaction of knowing that I had a goal, I worked hard to achieve it, and I did that.”

In that moment, a deepening love of entrepreneurship was born – and C-Spray was born again.

Kimelman enlisted Western Entrepreneurship to help him grow the product, but the ground under C-Spray, and the economy itself, shifted with the advent of the pandemic in early 2020.

“The episode aired in November, and so there was a huge spike in sales, and a lot of excitement. Then, as things calmed down, it became a little slower. Then the coronavirus hit, and sales dropped to basically zero. But I did expect it.”

With U.S. patent issues, and difficulty in scaling a niche product, it didn’t make sense to pursue C-Spray full time. Now, Kimelman has pivoted away from his invention to a different business, a new industry and a new challenge.

Kimelman is building a luxury vacation brand in Mexico. (He is moving there in September.)

The many resources and influences available through Western Entrepreneurship, even in an online environment, have been critical in tackling future challenges, Kimelman said. Eric Morse, Special Advisor to the President and Director of Western Entrepreneurship, has been a valuable mentor who has helped the young entrepreneur grow.

“The person I thought I was when I started at Western is not the person I am today – and not the person I want to become. I’ve changed so much in the last four years. I’ve learned so much. I never thought in a million years I would be where I am today.”