What is Firecircle?
Firecircle was created to address the gap in market and export-ready tourism businesses and to provide sustained tourism development mentorship for rural, Northern and Indigenous entrepreneurs across Canada.
Firecircle exists to inspire new - and strengthen existing - tourism and hospitality entrepreneurs. The goal is to ignite tourism entrepreneurs everywhere to bring their ideas to life through the provision of accessible, easy-to-use tools that inspire them, build their knowledge, fan the flames of their business vision, provide them with a solid foundation in the fundamentals of business sustainability and give them the confidence to fulfill their potential as visitor, market and export-ready tourism businesses.
Founded by Deneen Allen and Paul Cressman and launched in 2020, Firecircle is the only live-supported, fully-digital accelerator program for tourism and hospitality entrepreneurs who want to be smarter, more successful owners and operators. Firecircle’s foundational resource - the 5x5 Method™ – is a powerful, self-paced, mentored program focused on the five key areas required to envision, plan, build and grow viable, resilient businesses – now and for the future.
We want our clients to think of Firecircle as a path to transformation, whether that is through the ideation and launching of their new business or by the changes they might make to their existing business - or simply by achieving a better understanding of themselves.Download PDF Version
Our vision is Canadian tourism excellence. Period.
Our mission is to ignite tourism entrepreneurs across Canada: empower them with knowledge, spark their innovative spirit and encourage a healthy appreciation for competitiveness and being the best they can be.
“Our vision is tourism and hospitality excellence – we want to raise the bar in product and experience development in Canada’s tourism industry,” Deneen says. “Our national Ignite team of coaches and mentors is focused on guiding our Firecircle members in building robust, professional, market and export-ready businesses through foundational concepts and mentorship in a way that has not previously been accessible for many of our clients.”Download PDF Version
Firecircle is proud to collaborate and partner with the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, and most recently with the Government of Canada, on delivering our digital programs to Indigenous, rural, and Northern communities and entrepreneurs. We also support communities and tourism organizations across Canada, including the Tlicho Government in NWT and Tourism Saskatchewan.
Our programs help tourism and hospitality entrepreneurs align with regional, provincial, territorial and national tourism strategies and initiatives, ensuring a stronger, more competitive and cohesive industry.
Transition to Tourism Entrepreneurship
Be Market-Ready in 6 months or less.
Along with Firecircle’s online membership programs, Firecircle recently announced its latest project, Transition to Tourism Entrepreneurship. This unique three-year project, funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program (SIP), is an intensive business development program founded on Firecircle’s innovative 5x5 Method™ and customized to empower 1,000 tourism and hospitality entrepreneurs from across Canada to envision, launch and grow their best business ideas through a series of animated online and live video workshops, step-by-step guidance and expert, sustained mentorship. Firecircle’s innovative hybrid live and digital workshops and animated videos are the fast track to sustainable visitor, market and export-readiness.
The new resources being prepared and delivered through the Transition to Tourism Entrepreneurship program are targeted at the needs of Indigenous, rural, Northern and Francophone entrepreneurs as well as entrepreneurs with disabilities seeking to start a business or recover their existing operations from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program officially launches on September 21, 2022 and will begin onboarding the first cohorts of participants beginning in November 2022 through March 2025 starting with Indigenous cohorts followed by rural and Northern, followed by Francophone and entrepreneurs with disabilities as the program content is adapted to these the needs of these clients.
A full 500 of the 1,000 total participant seats in the Transition to Tourism Entrepreneurship program are being offered to Indigenous entrepreneurs, supported in partnership with the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC). A further 500 participant entrepreneurs will be invited to the join the program from rural and Northern communities across the country of populations under 250,000.
“This partnership will continue our efforts to return the Indigenous tourism industry to the historic levels of 2019. Firecircle will be an important partner in supporting aspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs on their journey to developing their business plans, helping the industry recover, and build resiliency from the impacts of the pandemic. We are excited to offer this program to our members, which supports The Original Original Accreditation Program as a tool for businesses who need extra support,” says Keith Henry, President and CEO of ITAC.
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The 5x5 Method™ - Our Signature Program is Firing up Canadian Tourism Entrepreneurs
Using the Firecircle 5×5 Method™, members are mapping and building business and implementation plans that are investor, lender and funder-ready, guiding them on their journey of building and growing thriving, sustainable businesses.
Clients include small to medium-sized tourism and hospitality entrepreneurs and enterprises who know they are missing the critical information to move their business ideas ahead or advance and improve their existing businesses. They are curious, committed and interested in personal and professional growth.
Firecircle continues to develop and grow additional programs and resources on topics and skills that are relevant to tourism and hospitality entrepreneurs in today’s industry landscape, including building out our national team of Ignite business coaches and mentors across Canada.Download PDF Version
Deneen Allen, Founder and CEO
Entrepreneur, developer and mentor, Deneen Allen has over 25 years’ experience as a hospitality and tourism strategist, with a deep understanding of the tourism sector in Canada and internationally.
Deneen has a passion for entrepreneurship and understands the challenges of rural, Northern and Indigenous tourism development in Canada: in her career she has owned and operated her own design and construction company, a rural corporate retreat, cooking school and catering company and two gourmet food shops. In 2008, Deneen founded Pure North Canada, a boutique hospitality and tourism consultancy that has been empowering dozens of rural, Northern and Indigenous individuals and communities across the country ever since to envision, build and grow dozens of projects and businesses: destination tourism strategies, community tourism plans, lodges, camps, glamping, parks, hotels, resorts, food concepts, cultural centres and more.
Now Deneen is applying this vast knowledge of tourism and hospitality as the lead program and content developer, conductor and mentor at Firecircle. She leads a national team of learner experience, technology and marketing specialists and a growing team of tourism and hospitality advisors who share Firecircle’s sensibility for down-to-earth communication and support while helping entrepreneurs take control, whether they are just starting their business or looking to revamp their existing operations.
From market placement to brand story to product design, physical product development, operations, marketing and finance, Deneen’s passion for the tourism and hospitality industry in Canada is the driving force behind Firecircle.
Deneen holds a BA in Economics from the University of Western Ontario (Western University), accreditations in Hotel Marketing, Hotel Design and Hotel Financial Management from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and is an alumnus of the 2010 Social Venture Institute.Download Deneen's Bio
Paul Cressman, Co-Founder and COO
Paul Cressman is Firecircle’s co-founder and COO. Paul leads the Firecircle team on the intricacies of developing a compelling online learning experience and is the production head for all things video and audio. With a background in music and lots of experience with recording equipment, Paul is also the “voice of Firecircle” for the hundreds of educational, animated videos that make up Firecircle’s growing library of programs. If you’re listening to Firecircle’s videos or podcasts, that’s Paul.
Paul has worked in community program development and capacity building in Canada’s North for over a decade. Paul’s expertise is in project planning, logistical support, risk management and program funding. If there’s a project to be coordinated and managed with humour, intelligence and compassion, Paul’s your (and our) guy.
Paul has worked with communities for many years to successfully develop, run and evaluate programs focused on culture and youth engagement, wilderness safety training, language revitalization and food security, amongst others – stuff that has never crossed the minds of most urbanites but is critical to healthy rural and northern economies.
Paul holds an Honours Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism from Lakehead University, loves being in the outdoors with his family and is happiest when he’s in a canoe.Download Paul's Bio
Participants who have completed the 5x5 Method have this to say:
“Firecircle has been exceptional for us…you know what it’s like, putting that final piece in the puzzle? (Firecircle) completed it. Our eyes were open to a lot of things we just kind of wrote off or didn’t think about. I think it would be beneficial to anyone starting a tourism business to go through the Firecircle program. It’ll really open their eyes to how they need to conduct their business and the support with the Firecircle group is amazing...do it at the beginning..start right from the beginning because you’ve got good footing and it’ll go smooth right from there.”
- L and C. Munroe Trapper Creek Outfitters, Saskatchewan
“Diving into why we’re doing this business and what’s at the heart of it all and then sticking to that and executing that through every aspect of what we’re doing - the business side, the production, our packaging, has a bit of us in it… Firecircle really helped me dig deep, and find the direction that we want to go with it, which for us is to support the community and be a key piece and help them every way we can….Firecircle was a really good tool for me to learn how to execute these things professionally and it gave me those skills - through the templates and all the workshops - asked all the important questions that really get you thinking…Overall, if you want to be an entrepreneur, to go through the 5x5 especially, it really sets a good base for you to make your business successful”.
- S. Baraniski Soup Town Cafe, Carrot River, Saskatchewan
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“First off, thank you for the opportunity to be a part of the Beta review for the Firecircle program. What an amazing concept and well executed site/program. My comments are general in nature. Being from a background with very little/ no knowledge of the tourism industry I found the program simple enough to follow while still being informative. The tone of the videos was extremely positive, encouraging and consistent throughout…..The platform itself also offers a stress-free environment to learn about what is needed to bring a tourism idea to market. The lack of tests etc creates an environment that is completely for the benefit of the user and is at a pace that many people at all different levels of experience/ education would be able to follow.”
- T.Ahluwalia, Ontario
“I have explored (Firecircle’s 5x5 program) further, and it’s truly remarkable! I think it will be transformative for the entrepreneurs in our community.”
- G.Goldie, Alberta
“Overall I really think this is amazing!! I think how you both communicate and sound and choice of words is accurate. I love the brand and simplicity of its user function. I love the incorporation of all northern pictures and video - so relevant and directly inspiring. This is exactly what’s needed in the north and I will definitely personally promote it.”
- A.Lizotte, NWT
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“Giving the student a step by step process to build their business plan is so smart and will make a task that is overwhelming seem attainable.”
- E. Carr, Ontario
“Hi Firecircle Team, The overall business idea for an on-line tourism training program is wonderful, so applicable and accessible…Good pacing, great videos and graphics and step-by-step voice-over is easy to follow, energizing. Great for an on-line format that needs the right "energy"... you walk through it really well - blending the push to be clear while also having it all come back to self, family, community, history. And the process of WHY has been helpful for me as I articulate my own 'why' on my new business path.”
- N. Bentley, Vancouver, BC
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