Entrepreneurs’ Day: Heather Reisman
Growing up, her favourite books included Anne of Green Gables and The Great Gatsby. The characters and rich settings inspired a lifelong love of reading, and also led to Heather Reisman founding the Canadian book chain Indigo Books and Music.
In 1995, Reisman was asked to become a “front-line investor” in the US-based book chain Borders. The plan was to have her help spearhead the business’ expansion into Canada. However, federal regulations prevented the expansion from happening. Seeing an opportunity in the market, Reisman quickly went to work on drafting a concept document for her own book business. Her original concept drew in $25 million dollars from investments and Indigo Books and Music was born. In 2001, the company acquired their rival, Chapters, to become the undisputed book retailer in Canada.
Like many entrepreneurs, Reisman didn’t stop with founding just one company (in fact, Indigo wasn’t even her first). In 2009, she co-founded the e-reader company Kobo. By 2012, Kobo was sold to Rakuten. Today, it’s still one of the world’s most popular e-readers.
Reisman also used her love of reading to create the charitable organization aptly named the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. The group aims to help libraries in under-resourced public schools by donating new books for the students to read. To date, millions of books have benefited more than 3,000 public schools across Canada. Reisman has also founded a few other charitable organizations, most of which aim to improve healthcare services and education.
Today, according to Reisman, Indigo Books and Music continues to provide not just books to Canadians, but also cultural life for the heart, mind, and soul.
“The big idea may be committing to life long learning however that works – and feeling positive enough to always be open to opportunity.”