The Cornwall and SD&G area was represented throughout the United States over the past month, as local startup founder, Shannon Ferguson, took part in the 2022 Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) program on a Collaboration Grant as an alumni.
Shannon completed the prestigious YLAI Program as a fellow in 2021 but because of the pandemic, her cohort was the only one to ever take part virtually. The Exchange Program is run by the US Department of State and was launched in 2015 by the Obama Administration. Each year, YLAI brings over 250 emerging entrepreneurs from the Western Hemisphere (Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada) together throughout the US, while helping to enable the full economic potential of the region’s citizens.
This year, the YLAI program resumed in-person and Shannon was one of 18 alumni from 2021 (and the only Canadian) selected to receive a competitive Collaboration Grant. She was given the chance to participate in a two-week exchange and attend the week-long Closing Forum in Washington, DC, something she and her cohort missed out on last year. Her exchange took place in San Diego, California where she continued her work with Stella Co. and the Women’s Venture Summit, helping to plan the upcoming conference that brings women founders and investors together each September.
“Being chosen as an alumni to participate in YLAI 2022 was such an honour and coming together with hundreds of young entrepreneurs who are doing incredible things was inspiring” said Shannon.
She added “Doing the program virtually last year just wasn’t the same so I’m extremely grateful I was able to participate and represent not only Canada, but the Cornwall area, on the world stage at the Closing Forum in DC”.
Shannon is the Co-Founder & CEO of tech startup, FanSaves, a digital couponing platform that gives people discounts and deals from the sponsors and partners of their favourite sports teams, membership organizations, events and more. Cornwall Tourism has been a partner for multiple years and their Explore Cornwall program powered by FanSaves, highlights local businesses and incentivizes locals and visitors alike with coupons to explore the city.
The company is currently partnered with more than 55 organizations and over 800 brands and businesses across North America. The team of 10 recently signed their first two major league teams and they are the “Official Digital Couponing Platform” of the AHL, the ECHL and the USHL. The startup is currently raising their $1M USD Investment Seed Round, even garnering an investment with local ties.
Shannon and her life and business partner, Kris McCarthy (FanSaves Co-Founder & COO) currently reside in South Glengarry and have a satellite office in Ottawa. They are both Directors on the United Way Centraide Cornwall SD&G Board of Directors and they founded FanSaves together, in Cornwall, while managing the Sales, Marketing and Sponsorship of the Cornwall Nationals back in 2017.
“I’m so proud to have grown up in Cornwall and to be part of this community. Being able to represent this area at a global level and letting others know that it’s possible to grow a scaling startup from a rural community is incredible and something Kris and I never take for granted” explained Shannon.
Shannon recently won a Forty Under 40 award in Canada’s National Capital and on July 19th, she was invited to speak on a panel at the US Embassy to Canada at the Greater Philadelphia Trade Visit to Canada. The panel was hosted by US Ambassador to Canada, David L. Cohen, and the day-long event included a private reception at dinner at the Ambassador’s residence.
She stated “It’s not everyday that you are given such amazing opportunities that FanSaves, and now the YLAI program, constantly afford me. I am dedicated to not only growing our business internationally but ensuring that others feel inspired by our journey as well”.
More about FanSaves: FanSaves was founded in Cornwall, Ontario in the summer of 2017 by Shannon Ferguson and Kris McCarthy. With a goal to help eliminate paper coupons, the digital platform helps organizations increase sponsorship revenue while allowing fans to better support partners and giving local businesses an additional marketing tool. Offers and deals on FanSaves are always free for anyone to enjoy. Visit www.fansaves.com or download the app on the App Store and Google Play Store.
More about YLAI: YLAI promotes U.S. business models, increases trade, encourages job creation, and builds lasting and sustainable networks of young entrepreneurs and business and social leaders across Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United States.