Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ryan Zizzo, Founder and CEO of Mantle Developments, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Mantle Developments helps create projects that go beyond energy efficiency, incorporating resilience and life cycle approaches so that construction projects are future-proof and net-zero carbon ready. We work with the whole real estate, construction, and development industry, including investors, developers, designers, constructors, manufacturers, and policymakers. We research, develop, and implement whole life cycle carbon and climate adaptation strategies for construction.

Tell us about yourself

My undergraduate degree was in structural engineering. I then completed a master's degree in sustainable infrastructure and environmental engineering. I contributed to some of the greenest projects across Canada in my eight years with a large Canadian engineering firm. I then relocated to Helsinki, Finland, for three years, where I "saw the future" of green buildings. I returned home to Toronto, Canada, in 2015 and founded my consultancy to focus on these "next generation" green strategies, including embodied carbon emission management and climate resilience.

My mission is to transform the built environment from one of society's most significant carbon and climate risks into a resilient climate solution in which we store carbon while building safe and prosperous communities. We technically know how to do this. We just need to get on with it already!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment has been to develop new low-carbon construction policies and guidelines for the government of Canada and for the City of Toronto. These projects will shift the Canadian industry to decarbonize.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

It's a real challenge to prioritize how to spend my time. What is my highest value, and where can I put my efforts to have the most efficient impact on creating a more climate-friendly future?

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Just get started! It doesn't have to be perfect to begin with (and it will never be perfect). Start small and simple, then improve things every day.
  2. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You can't (and shouldn't) be doing everything. Know your strengths and focus there. Know your weaknesses and ask for help or outsource.
  3. Network, network, network! When I was a new immigrant to Finland, I used to attend meetings for industry associations and public lectures on the issues I wanted to be involved in. Sure, those meetings and lectures were in a language I didn't know, but I was able to write down URLs that I could later put through Google Translate. Also, most people could speak English to me during the coffee breaks. You never know who you are going to meet and what doors that might open.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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