Feature Story

Born to be an entrepreneur

Rivers Corbett (’85) becomes Mount Allison’s first entrepreneur-in-residence
By: Melissa Lombard

Rivers Corbett believes he was born to be an entrepreneur. It is in his DNA.

“I believe entrepreneurs can be born or made, but if you were born to do it, there is a higher potential for long-term success,” he says. “It was really always in me — there are entrepreneurs on both sides of my family — and what started this journey was a yearning and I have been honest in following that.”

With more than 23 years of experience, Corbett is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of ChefTorial (formerly The Chef Group). In this role, he leads the successful talent agency providing chefs for private and corporate events including cooking classes in Sobeys and other retailers. But, like many other businesses, The Chef Group needed to shift due to the pandemic, transforming into a fully-virtual model and rebranding to ChefTorial.

“Our 20-year business model disappeared within two weeks,” he says. “I say we are now a 20-year company that is two years old. Our focus has changed to help chefs and cooks start and build their own side hustles using our talents, services, and technology to support them. We also focus on supporting alumni organizations to engage their alumni through food experiences with our private label cooking clubs powered and hosted by our team.”

He also founded Relish, a former iconic Atlantic Canada burger chain. He was named Fredericton’s Entrepreneur of the Year, one of Canada’s Top Ten Mentors, and was recognized in Profit magazine’s Hottest Start-ups List. He is an active part of the podcast team at Canada’s Podcast — Canada’s #1 podcast for entrepreneurs — as well as a member of Startup Canada’s National Advisory Council. A previous entrepreneur-in-residence for both the Province of New Brunswick and UNB, Corbett is the author of The Bootstrapper’s Guide to Business Growth.

Corbett has a passion for mentoring, which led him to the role as Mount Allison’s first entrepreneur-in-residence.

“I am a Mount A guy,” says Corbett. “I am thrilled to be back at the school that has formed so many memories for me. The whole connection has just been a thrill of mine.”

The program started in the fall of 2021 within Mount Allison’s Office of Experiential Learning and Career Development. Corbett began engaging with students through virtual office hours and Tuesday Talks with established local entrepreneurs. His ongoing goals are to continue to develop the spirit and action of entrepreneurship throughout the student body and to extend the dialogue of entrepreneurship to all disciplines on campus, not just in Commerce.

By the end of the winter term, he aims to have 30 student businesses engaged.

“I can honestly say I have seen a real increase in students engaging and there is momentum happening,” he says.

Corbett aims to instill his approach to entrepreneurship in these students. Business is like baseball — you win mainly by getting to first base first.

“They need to appreciate the journey at a high level for the first five years,” he says. “Before you have business cards or a website, or you talk to the bank, you need to understand solving problems, customer discovery, and validating ideas. Ultimately, it’s like a laboratory and you have a hypothesis that needs to be tested and blown up. You have to have get that mindset right at a high level before digging in.”

The students aren’t the only ones learning from this process. He says it’s exciting to see students come alive when they see what they can do for themselves.

“I am a firm believer that entrepreneurs are going to save the world,” he says. “And I have a great sense of hope that the world is in a good place with these students I am working with.”

For more information on experiential learning and entrepreneurship opportunities at Mount Allison, visit mta.ca/experiential