Unlocking Potential in Cape Breton | Cape Breton Capital GroupJanuary 4, 2024

Story by the Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce

(Originally published by the Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce)

Earlier this year, Paul Harrington had set his sights on retirement, planning to spend most of his time growing vegetables, completing home projects, and socializing. However, when the role of Managing Director with Cape Breton Capital Group (Capital Group) became available, Paul’s wife encouraged him to apply as she believed it was an excellent fit for his skills, character, and interest in being part of the Island’s community. After a few discussions and meeting with some of the Capital Group’s Partners, Paul too became excited. “I was inspired by the opportunity to be part of a vision to create economic and social growth on the Island, and to meet, guide, and help business innovators and entrepreneurs,” he recalls.

The Cape Breton Capital Group was formed in 2021 by a collective of 26 Angel investors who share a vision for growing the economic and social wealth of Cape Breton. Each Partner brings their own experience of creating, growing, or running businesses, or reaching the peak of their professions. Through contributions of personal funds, the investors have created a central fund to be used to invest in start-up companies or business succession in Cape Breton. In addition to funding, they also use their expertise to offer mentorship to those accessing funds from the Capital Group.

After joining the Capital Group as the Managing Director in September 2023, Paul hasn’t looked back since. “My role with the Capital Group has proved to be the happiest employment I have had since the day I left the military,” he says. Paul, who has dual British and Canadian nationality, served in the HM Forces – Army before leaving to work in investment banking, and later consulting. Paul made the move to Canada in 2017 and later established a home on Cape Breton in St. Peter’s with his now wife.

Paul feels his role with the Capital Group perfectly merges the Island’s beauty, character, and the people with a vital cog in the strategic growth of businesses on Cape Breton. “I thoroughly enjoy meeting people and trying to guide them in developing their business dreams into reality,” he says. Paul also understands the importance of offering honest advice even if it is not always easy for people to hear because he knows it is the reality of creating, growing, or running a business.

The Capital Group looks to strategically invest in two categories of business on the Island and actively encourages submissions for investment from start-up businesses and existing businesses considering succession planning. The start-up category is for innovators and entrepreneurs who have a business concept they are looking to either create or develop. The business succession category is for established businesses where the owner(s) are ready to step back or out of the business but do not want it to close when they do so. In relation to business succession planning, the Capital Group is a participant in a recently launched initiative within Nova Scotia named the ‘SME Succession Hub’ (carrefourrelevepme.ca) which is an Atlantic Canada initiative deriving from New Brunswick. The site offers the central point to effectively bring business buyers and sellers together and offer institutions such as the Cape Breton Capital Group, to assist in their business succession efforts.

Paul’s advice to those who aspire to develop their inspiration, concept or product into a business is, “Spend time researching and speaking to organizations in the innovation ecosystem such as the Cape Breton Capital Group or even other start-up companies. People on the Island are extremely helpful and the time learning/researching will very rarely be time wasted”. The Cape Breton Capital Group website contains useful high-level guidance to those looking for financing, including links to an application form and references to other helpful organizations.” 

He also suggests listening to and learning from as many people as possible when considering starting or going into business, “I never believe anyone can be the font of all knowledge in business and in particular, myself. I spend a lot of time researching materials that improve my knowledge and then discussing with individuals who have experience in the subject matter. There is a wealth of experience in a multitude of organizations in the innovation/entrepreneurship ecosystem and all are extremely helpful. Search out vital snippets of information/suggestions that can make a difference in your decision making and business planning as it will pay dividends in the long run.”

To learn more about the Cape Breton Capital Group, please visit https://www.capebretoncapital.com/