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GBC Entrepreneur Spotlight: Chris Palivan

Chris Palivan

Co-founder of the Toronto Cider Festival

Established in 2015, the Toronto Cider Festival is an award winning annual festival and the largest of its kind in Canada. The festival celebrates cider through a fun, interactive and unique experience, while supporting the Ontario cider industry.

Shortly after graduating, Chris Palivan co-founded the Toronto Cider Festival in 2015 and the Toronto International Cider Awards in 2017. In the four years since the festival’s inception, he has grown this award-winning event into the largest cider festival in Canada, while continuously supporting the Ontario cider industry. Together with the Toronto International Cider Awards, Palivan intends to put Toronto on the map as an international cider hub.

Palivan continues to pave his own path through his entrepreneurial spirit, work ethic and zest for life, which has seen him extensively travel for 3 years with over 40 countries under his belt, while contributing to various communities around the world. Having been part of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, the 2017 Toronto Invictus Games and the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games in various management & leadership roles, Palivan is just getting started in making a world impact.

Never forgetting his beginnings, in recognition of the positive impact of his own education, Palivan established the annual Toronto Cider Festival scholarship for the Special Events Planning program at George Brown College.

We had the opportunity to ask Chris some questions about his entrepreneurial journey!

 What’s your educational background?

[Chris] graduated from the George Brown College Special Events Planning program in 2014.

What made you want to become an entrepreneur? 

Having travelled across the world from a young age of 19, I quickly learned that I was destined to live a life on a path of my own making. I’ve always wanted to contribute to the world through my creativity and passions as well as have an impact on my community; entrepreneurship gave me an avenue to pursue this. I was able to work hard within my own structures, follow my heart and constantly thrive to improve without any limitations. The possibilities are endless, allowing me to take ownership of my own success.

Why did you create the Toronto Cider Festival?

We created the Toronto Cider Festival because passion met opportunity. Having just graduated from the Event Management program and hungry to build a business, the right opportunity presented itself to partner up with some amazing people and leverage our passions to create what would be a testament of our creativity and passion for building memorable experiences. The Cider industry just happened to be the right opportunity, as it started to experience consumer interest and subsequently unprecedented growth. We were bold enough to act on the opportunity and loved the idea that we could be a pioneer with Toronto’s first (and now Canada’s largest) cider festival, with the vision of one day growing the world’s largest cider festival.

How successful is the Toronto Cider Festival? (Tell us some of your successes.)

Established in 2015, the Toronto Cider Festival is an award-winning annual festival and the largest of its kind in Canada. Celebrating its 5th year edition in 2019, the festival has promoted cider through a fun, interactive and unique experience, while supporting the Ontario farmers and the cider industry as a whole. Over the past 4 years, the festival has hosted over 13,000 guests, has been an instrumental voice of the cider industry featuring hundreds of publications, all while promoting cider education to millions of Canadians. Furthermore, the festival works closely with Ontario Craft Cider Association to boost the local economy and has partnered with the provincial and municipal governments to attract tourism into the city in the hopes of establishing Toronto as the Cider City.  Being named the Best Festival in Toronto at the Notable Awards, and being nominated for Best Public Festival at the Canadian Special Events Awards, the Toronto Cider Festival is leading the pack as one of the most fun, most respected and well executed festivals in Toronto.

What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Being a successful entrepreneur is a long and bumpy road. Have patience with yourself and understand that anything worthwhile takes time building. At times progress will come in huge leaps, and other times it will be in small increments. Thoroughly enjoy the journey; you only get to live it once, and there will come a time when you will look back at your humble beginnings with a smile and appreciate how far you’ve come. Understand your “why”, have faith in yourself that you are headed in the right direction and do not compare yourself to others, but rather set your own benchmarks for your success based on your own desired end goal.

You can learn more about the Toronto Cider Festival here.

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