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Why do some good when you can do some awesome: Wize Monkey tea



Wize Monkey founders, Arnaud Petitvallet and Max Rivest.

Wize Monkey founders, Arnaud Petitvallet and Max Rivest.

Sometimes, being bitten by a dog in Central America can lead to an unexpected partnership. For Max Rivest, that dog bite is how he and his business partner Arnaud Petitvallet found Armando – their pioneer tea leaf farmer in Nicaragua – and began brewing a relationship integral to helping farmers and their families living and working in the country’s coffee regions.

Vancouverites Rivest and Petitvallet are the entrepreneurs behind the brand Wize Monkey, Vancouver’s first coffee leaf tea.

Their product is a tea blend made using 100% pure organic coffee leaves, also known as “the forgotten leaf.”  The blend contains many health benefits including more antioxidants than green tea without the high amounts of caffeine.

How did it all start off? 

The idea of Wize Monkey Tea started off as part of a grad school assignment in January 2013 at the KEDGE Business School in France, where both Rivest and Petitvallet were completing their studies.  It was their mutual love for coffee and Max’s knowledge of the issues that many Latin American farmers face which prompted the duo to look into solutions to improve the livelihoods of coffee-dependent communities.

After further research and analysis, they discovered that the coffee leaf could be utilized to make a unique tea product that could create sustainable, year-round income for coffee farmers and their families.

“We found this article on the positive effects of coffee leaves.  Coffee leaves contain higher antioxidants than green tea and are lower in caffeine. We immediately made the connection that if we could use these leaves to create a one-of-a-kind product, we could also use the leaves to create jobs in communities in these regions.” – Arnaud

Being Nicaraguan myself, I know how important the coffee industry is to Nicaragua. Currently, 320 thousand jobs are coffee-industry related.  That translates to 45 thousand families that are dependent on coffee.

“The coffee bean is the world’s second most traded commodity and it’s only profitable three times a year for its producers.  If we can make that year-round, we can change million’s of peoples’ lives. ” – Max

Since they first started the project, Max and Arnaud have created over 40 jobs for people in two separate towns in Nicaragua. Eager to learn more about their tea, I sat down with the guys for a Q & A session.

Q: First off, why “Wize Monkey?”

M: Well, wise people make wise decision and we think of the monkey as very clever and able to find his way into any situation and find a solution. Also, the monkey is a fun animal that is in Nicaragua. At the base, it’s because it’s a wise solution, and we hope that people who choose this product over another one may be aligned with the wisdom of the project in terms of the long-term outlook and how we’re trying to fix the coffee industry in a long-term solution versus a charity handout.

A: Goes back to the saying, “teach a man how to fish and he’ll eat forever.”

Q: Why Nicaragua?

M: We tried to find sources in Columbia but that was too tricky. We tried Costa Rica but we couldn’t find a tea producer that was fit for our project. There is currently no tea production in Nicaragua.  In Nicaragua, we found a perfect tea producer that was in a region that was also government-funded, part of an organic initiative, tea facility. I had been there before and it just made sense because I was already familiar with the area and they had the right tea manufacturing guys there and most of all, it was in the coffee region.

Q: I’m intrigued about this “dog-bite” and how it led you to Armando.  Tell me more.

M: *Chuckles* On our first weekend in the country, we we’re invited by a British couple to go to a local waterfall just outside of Estelí. When we we’re there, there was a young and playful pitbull terrier running about and loved barking at my video camera. Being a dog lover, I asked the owner if I could approach the dog. He said yes no problem, he’s a house dog, vaccinated etc. The dog didn’t like me I suppose and chomped on my knuckles, leaving a small scar. (I got a rabies shot right after, just in case)

The dog’s owner was apologetic and his cousin named Tulio happened to study in Maryland so he was fluent in English. They dropped off cigars at our hotel later that day.
About a week later, we we’re in a bar and ran into Tulio by random chance. He asked us what we we’re up to in such a small town, being two of probably 10 gringos. We told him we we’re looking for small to mid-sized coffee farmers. He said he knew this guy Armando in Matagalpa. We got his contact, met Armando a couple weeks later, and he greeted us with the classic “Any friend of Tulio’s is a friend of mine!” Such a good guy and a genius when it comes to coffee production.
Without the British couple inviting us and the dog bite, among other previous elements, we would have never found Armando and it would have been much harder to get to where we are today. Talk about serendipity!

Q: What’s the difference between coffee bean processing and tea leaf processing?

A:  Coffee beans are only harvested generally from December to March or early April.  So farmers can only make an income for three to four months of the year.  The majority of the farmers lack the means or the education to make money for the remainder of the year so a lot of them go into debt for the rest of the year in order to buy food and to survive.  The leaf can be harvested year-round and incorporating the leaf can bring them some revenue and constant income throughout the year.

M: It also takes a lot less resources. The coffee bean for example, is a lot heavier and a lot of people need to be employed to haul it all up.  It then needs to be thrown into a machine that is constantly running water in order to take off the bean husk and those machines are basically automatic mills that run.  It’s very archaic and they have water running through them, literally 24/7 for that entire 3-4 months.  That’s thousands of gallons of water being wasted. You don’t have to roast tea leaves or grind them up. You just wash them and lay them out to dry using solar power.

Q: How did you select your leaves?

M: We tested four to five different varieties of Arabica and then we found the best one that had the most flavour and it was just perfect.  It wasn’t over-powering – it was just right.  That’s when we figured out that this idea was totally viable.

Q: Aside from containing lots of antioxidants, what are some of the other benefits of tea leaves? 

M: Our tea contains only 12 milligrams of caffeine whereas coffee and black tea contains about 80 milligrams. It also contains mangiferin, a natural xanthonoid usually found in mangos.

A: Studies have shown that tea leaves can be used to reduce a lot of diseases including high cholesterol.

Q: How would you describe the flavour of your tea?

M & A: Try it for yourself!

So I did.  The verdict? I was pleasantly surprised.  My tea was flavourful without being over-powering, gentle and calming, and had a refreshing, earthy taste.  Most of all, it reminded me of home – a place I long to go back and visit.

Q: What are your long term goals?

M: In our long stretch goals, one of them is to push organic initiatives and try to host clinics and workshops to better educate coffee growers in Latin America.  Many farmers still use pesticides and some of them want to change to a more natural way of growing but they can’t afford the education.

Wize Monkey will be hosting a Kickstarter Launch Party on Friday, November 7th at Kafka’s Coffee and Tea on Main and Broadway.  The event will feature a tea tasting and photo gallery.

Facebook event link:

For more info, contact or connect with the guys on social media via Facebook, Twitter (@wizemonkeytea) and on Instagram (@wizemonkey).

Watch their teaser video here:

Tea tasting and photo gallery launch event at Kafka's Coffee & Tea in Vancouver on Friday November 7th from 8 - 10pm.

Tea tasting and photo gallery launch event at Kafka’s Coffee & Tea in Vancouver on Friday November 7th from 8 – 10pm.


Blanca is a graduate from BCIT’s Broadcast Media and Online Journalism program. Blanca was born in Nicaragua, and was raised on the West Coast. Throughout the years, she has developed an eclectic style and has merged her love of culture, fashion, and food to create her blog: Blanca also works as a TV producer and travel host. A “social media queen”, Blanca believes in the power of the internet and its ability to connect and compel. Blanca is bilingual in Spanish and English and is currently learning Portugese.


Building An E-Commerce Business In Canada? Here’s What You Need To Know



The consumer market in Canada is changing at a rapid pace. On the west coast, start-ups are becoming increasingly common as entrepreneurs call cities like Vancouver, Victoria, and Surrey their home.

In this changing market, e-commerce is slowly taking the place of traditional brick-and-mortar storefronts in many respects.

As an aspiring e-commerce entrepreneur, there are several significant resources and insights to keep in mind ad you begin to build your business.

Track Your Income & Expenses

Before you can strategize and create lofty long-term goals, you’ll want to ensure you have the financial structure you need to grow your business.

Often, entrepreneurs in Canada struggle with the basics and must look to alternative lenders or online payday loans in Surrey or wherever their business has been established.  To ensure you don’t make the same mistakes, you’ll want to set up a separate account for your professional expenses.

Whether you choose to create monthly spreadsheets or use a budget app, having a money management tool you can refer back to will help ensure you’re never overspending and you’re investing your profits where they’ll best serve you and your company.

Invest In a Web Developer

Many e-commerce brands are as popular as they are today because of the functionality and engagement their site brings to the market.

When you’re in the process of hiring a web developer, look at their resume and past clients — you’ll want to see what kind of sites they’ve created and how consumers have responded.

This hire can make or break your brand before you even launch, which is why it’s vital to do the necessary research.

Email Marketing

There are certain areas of creating an e-commerce brand in Surrey or throughout Canada, and e-mail marketing is one of the most significant.

While social media is becoming increasingly popular as a marketing technique, e-mails remain a tried-and-true method for reaching customers and convincing them to make repeat purchases.

Creating lists for promotions and sales is a skillful way to keep customers engaged, rather than simply e-mailing only when they’ve made a purchase.

You’ll want to continuously test and optimize your emails using A/B testing to ensure you’re maximizing your growth potential.

Prioritize Customer Service

Without customers, your business will be unable to survive, let alone sustainably grow. The e-commerce market is competitive no matter the industry you’re in, which means customers are looking for brands that care about their shopping experience.

If your operation is small, you’ll likely be handling customer inquiries on your own. Remember to prioritize a portion of your day to comb through questions or concerns to keep your potential customers invested. When buyers have a seamless experience online, they’re more likely to recommend that product or service to their network.

If you have the capital to hire a single employee or a small team, you can delegate the customer care tasks and focus on the departments that need your immediate attention. You’ll want to ensure these candidates have strong writing skills and sales backgrounds — because they’ll know how to engage with your customers and ensure their satisfaction.

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Surrey teenage entrepreneur’s food delivery app boasts of 10,000 users, unique dine-in feature



Surrey-based entrepreneur Ekam Panesar’s home delivery app DishPal is giving competition to the big delivery companies in the Lower mainland.

Two years after starting DishPal, the app now has 10,000 users and 100 active drivers. The app has partnered with 75 local restaurants already with many more to come.

The app was started by Ekam Panesar in Grade 12. The Seaquam Secondary School graduate is proud of its success so far. “This is only the beginning”.

“I was 16 at the time, when my father while eating lunch at one of the restaurants shared a concern of restaurants that they make very less profit on their orders from third-party food delivery platforms because of higher commission fees,” Panesar said.

“That’s when I decided to create DishPal, a smart app for ordering food and delivery online that helps local restaurants earn more by offering a lower commission of 10%.”

Panesar worked relentlessly to transform the idea into reality. After research, trials, and surveying the restaurant industry, DishPal was launched with a unique dine-in feature.


It is a mobile reservation, payment, and menu planning app that enables you to make reservations, order online, pay at the table, and tip. This contactless service helps you ditch your wallet.

DishPal also has a subscription plan called “DishPal Plus” which offers cashback/credit on every order, free delivery, and other benefits which helps you save while you shop.

Users may use the online credit or go to one of our partnered locations in person to pick up the order.

Panesar attributes his success and positive work ethic to his family. “My parents always taught me not to compare myself with anyone as everyone is unique in their own way.”

About the Founder-CEO:

Ekam Panesar is a solution-driven young entrepreneur who balanced his academic life with entrepreneurial dream and community work.

Ekam currently attends classes at Simon Fraser University. His drive to expand his business to the next level is fired by his vision. He wants DishPal to be a name brand in Canada and India that stands for trust, transparency, reliability, and quality.

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How Businesses Are Prioritizing Appointments As They Open Their Doors Again



Restaurants and retail stores have finally reopened their doors after months of closure. As they reopened, shoppers have lined up and flocked to stores in record numbers, even amid recent Covid-19 surges.

The reopening has been a welcome occurrence for many, not least because of the 24,000 jobs recovered in Surrey. However, while consumers are eager to support their favourite clothing brands, small businesses, and other non-essential businesses, owners and management have had to strike a fine balance between maximizing customer footfall and prioritizing customer safety in-store.

Getting the balance right between generating income and deciding which clients get the first appointments can be a tricky decision. Thankfully, each business is adopting its own ways of prioritizing appointments and maintaining great customer service at the same time.

Dental And Medical Institutions Turn To AI And Scheduling Software

Based on safety guidelines from the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, dentists are relying on a prioritization scheduling approach for patients. The organization recommends physical spacing between appointments to allow for appropriate sanitization measures between patient visits, along with pre-appointment screenings.

Dental practices are also encouraging patients to practice good dental care at home, and take note of the signs of gum inflammation early on to avoid more severe consequences, such as periodontal disease, which can occur if gingivitis develops and is left untreated.

Patients with urgent dental concerns like a severe dental infection are being referred to emergency dental clinics or earmarked for emergency clinic hours. Dental practice management software like ACE Dental and DentiCon are also being used to schedule and track appointments.

Scheduling software such as these also offers useful scheduling hacks like the ability to group patients as family members – and possibly group their appointments to minimize the spread of infections.

Other dental practices are using AI to prioritize urgent patient appointments, similar to the UK’s NHS approach to working through the patient backlog. Booking and patient interaction software like Dr. Doctor relies on predictive algorithms to help hospitals and dental care surgeries prioritize appointments by urgency instead of seeing patients on a first come first served basis.

Patients are given a patient questionnaire to complete, and graded using a colour-coded charting system. These and other dental booking software systems help to reduce the administrative burden on clinicians, which leaves them with more time to focus on patient care.

Pre-Booked Appointments And Outdoor Dining Feature Heavily For Restaurants

Due to a recent surge in cases across British Columbia, restaurants are closed to indoor dining until April 19, 2021. However, takeaways and outdoor dining are still permitted. Most restaurants have taken their appointment booking and takeaway services online, allowing customers to make reservations based on table availability, or pick up their meals to go.

The use of online appointment scheduling software such as Zoho Bookings and Yocale are popular amongst food establishments to keep track of bookings.

Currently, no more than six people are allowed to sit together when booking a restaurant reservation in order to maintain social distancing, according to reopening guidelines by Work Safe British Columbia. Therefore, larger parties are either being spilt into separate dining reservations (if outdoor space permits) or offered an alternative date.

Retailers Continue To Rely On Crowd Control, Navigation Signs, And Queues

Other retail stores have also implemented crowd control techniques instead of an appointment system. Retail stores in malls are now limiting the number of shoppers in-store at any one time, and have implemented navigation signs for customers to help with the flow of traffic in-store and outdoors.

Doormen and security staff are a common feature, as they maintain the number of shoppers in-store and regulate the flow of traffic in a bid to prioritize social distancing.

Stores are also incorporating an omni-channel approach as a way to stagger in-store traffic. Caposhie in South Granville has continued to keep a focus on online operations to balance demand.

Owner Adelle Reynaud said, “We sort of spent our time kind of building the back end up, and hopefully through this our online sales will grow and we’ll kind of figure out new and improved ways to figure that out.” Other retailers have embraced the use of the click and collect model, and are encouraging customers to use their virtual services where possible.

Jewellers like Tiffany’s in Vancouver now allow consumers to book their virtual appointments online, or book a time slot for in-store consultations. Golden Tree Jewellers in Surrey has done the same, providing a dedicated contact number for appointment bookings.

As business resumes, companies are having to find new and innovative ways to balance their profitability and customer safety. Deciding how to prioritize appointments is a crucial part of that.

The basis of prioritization and appointment models differ greatly according to businesses, but one thing that remains consistent is that businesses in BC are finding ways to rise to the challenge.

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New Device Repair Service On Wheels Launches In Surrey, Bringing Residents Contactless, Convenient And Professional Repairs Right To Their Doorstep



Mobile Klinik goes mobile: Innovative smartphone and tablet repair service on wheels is now available in more than 100 cities and towns across Canada

Mobile Klinik waiving $29.99 convenience fee to support Canadians with safe contactless customer repair support amid Covid-19

Today Mobile Klinik, Canada’s leading chain of professional smartphone and tablet repair stores, launched Onsite Repair Units, the first van service of its kind to offer consumers and businesses nationwide the convenience of professional smartphone and tablet repair at the location of their choice.

With more Canadians working and learning from home and physical distancing protocols in place, it is more important than ever for their devices to be working without issue, and now residents and businesses in more than 100 communities nationwide can conveniently access Mobile Klinik’s Onsite Repair Unit service.

“The launch of Mobile Klinik’s Onsite Repair service is our latest initiative to make smartphone and tablet repair a more accessible, cost effective, and convenient option for Canadian consumers,” said Tim McGuire, CEO of Mobile Klinik.

“Because we are spending so much time learning, working, and seeking entertainment at home, having reliable smartphones and tablets is paramount. We are proud to bring our services right to our customers’ doorsteps – at no extra charge – so they can resume using their device, often in less than an hour.”

As a leader in professional smartphone and tablet repair, Mobile Klinik is committed to providing Canadians with flexible and affordable options to keep their devices for longer, servicing common issues like cracked screens, broken cameras, software updates, and battery replacements using high quality parts and state of the art diagnostics – right from inside the Mobile Klinik service van, outside their homes or place of work.

To further support Canadians throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, for a limited time, Mobile Klinik is waiving the $29.99 Onsite Repair Unit convenience fee.

Customers in the following communities can book today either online or by phone to have a Mobile Klinik technician arrive at the location of their choice and service their repair in 60 minutes or less.

British Columbia

  • Vancouver
  • Surrey
  • Richmond
  • Burnaby
  • Delta
  • North Vancouver
  • West Vancouver
  • Coquitlam
  • Pitt Meadows
  • Maple Ridge
  • Langley
  • White Rock
  • New Westminster


  • Calgary
  • Chestermere
  • Airdrie
  • Edmonton
  • St. Albert
  • Spruce Grove
  • Beaumont
  • Leduc


  • Winnipeg
  • Selkirk


  • Toronto
  • Mississauga
  • Brampton
  • Oakville
  • Milton
  • Caledon
  • Ottawa
  • Nepean


  • Gatineau
  • Montreal
  • Pointe-Claire
  • Kirkland
  • Salaberry-de-Valleyfield
  • Laval
  • Longueuil
  • Quebec City
  • Levis
  • Saint Jean Sur Richelieu

To find out if Mobile Klinik’s new Onsite Repair service is available in your community or for more information, visit us:

About Mobile Klinik

Mobile Klinik is Canada’s leader in professional smartphone and tablet repair, refurbishment and resale with more than 90 convenient locations from coast to coast, Onsite Repair Units in over 100 markets across Canada and an online store.

We are committed to providing Canadian consumers and businesses with flexible and affordable options to repair, buy, sell, protect and connect their wireless devices.

For more information about Mobile Klinik, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Attention Entrepreneurs: This Could Be The Ideal Time To Start That Business



Every business has been impacted in one way or another by the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, this has led to layoffs, reduced hours, and other major changes for workers. While the economy is struggling to bounce back, entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity to push their business dreams forward.

There is more talent accessible on the market than ever before, and you’re not constrained by geographic location. It’s easier to be nimble and succeed with a small team (even just yourself) than it used to be. And if you need a small business loan to get your company up and running, interest rates are expected to remain low for several years.

Many of the world’s most successful companies were started in the midst of a financial crisis. It all comes down to whether or not you can provide consumers with something they need or want. If you decide to start your business in the near future, however, you’ll need to ensure that you manage your capital well so that you can stay in a strong position for long-term success.

Surrey604 is here with some ideas. From conducting a market evaluation to saving up a healthy financial cushion, here are a few key practices for stretching your startup capital in the early stages of your entrepreneurship:

Evaluating the Market

Assuming you already have an idea of what type of product or service you want to offer, you will need to do a thorough market evaluation to ensure there is demand for it.

How big is the market? What are potential competitors offering and how is your product different? What are the price points like?

Writing a Business Plan

Once you’ve assessed the market, you’ll need to create a business plan. Much can be said on this subject, but to keep it short: Your business plan should contain all the information pertinent to the launch and growth of your company over the next five to 10 years.

Some examples of what you need to include are your mission statement, a description of products or services, financial projections, the kind of staff needed, and your marketing strategies.

Outsourcing Time-Consuming Tasks

It might seem counter-intuitive, but hiring people can be a cost-effective method of growing your business. Think about it: If you try to do everything yourself all the time, everything will take longer to get done. And chances are they won’t be done properly and you’ll get burned out in no time.

Consider any tasks or roles that will distract you from your vision as the business owner, and start looking for qualified workers to fill them. For example, you can easily hire professional accounting, legal, and branding services through freelance job platforms.

Using Financial Management Tools

A lot goes into managing finances when you’re a business owner. It’s easy to get overwhelmed keeping track of your taxes, expenses, payments, invoicing, and other factors.

Fortunately, there is a slew of software tools on the market (e.g., Freshbooks, Xero, QuickBooks, etc.) that can simplify this process. Use them.

Saving Up

Just like with personal finances, saving up a contingency fund for your business can provide you with security and peace of mind. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow — or even today! — and having money saved up can help you avoid significant financial hardships or the loss of your business.

Start setting aside money each week, and try to put away at least six months of expenses. If you’ve been thinking about opening a business, why wait?

There are many reasons why now is a great time, and if you prepare beforehand, you can take advantage of the moment and establish a stable foundation for long-lasting success.

Along with considering the tips above, keep researching to see what others steps you can take to build a healthy, thriving business from the ground up!

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