He has no regrets about making the dramatic move – especially after his girlfriend became his fiancée following a romantic proposal on a rugged mountain peak.
However Andrew, 31, did spend his first months in Wales panicking that he may never get a job, having packed in the successful digital marketing business he built up back home to follow his heart to an uncertain future over here.
He said: “Toronto is incomparable in size to Bridgend, but I like it here. The countryside is beautiful and the people are lovely.
“The one thing I struggled with was finding work. I keenly applied for 147 jobs in all fields of interest and didn’t get anywhere. It was soul destroying. Then I thought, why not set up my own business like I did back home? However, with limited funds after my move across the Atlantic, I was struggling to get it going.”
It was only when his local Jobcentre Plus referred him to the Government’s New Enterprise Allowance, which we deliver in Swansea in partnership with Business Sense Associates, that he found the practical and financial support he needed to get off the ground.
The NEA, launched by the Government in 2011, provides support and mentoring for unemployed budding entrepreneurs claiming Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance and lone parents on income support.
Participants receive access to a volunteer business mentor who will provide them with guidance and support as they develop their business plan and through the first six months of trading. Once participants have demonstrated they have a viable business proposition with the potential for growth in the future, they are able to access financial support.
Andrew said: “The NEA was really helpful. After all my efforts, it finally felt that I was getting somewhere. The funding that I received from the NEA meant that I had a little bit of breathing space while I kick started my business. Despite setting up and running 2 previous businesses there were a few mine fields to work through. Everything is different over here than in Canada but before long I had valuable advice coming my way: help with my business plan, guidance for available grants to apply for and a course on starting your own small business were all suddenly available to me. With my personal mentors guiding me via email and regular meetings I really felt like I was making progress.
"Having a second pair of eyes look over everything I was doing was reassuring too. I would really recommend the New Enterprise Allowance programme to anyone in a similar position wanting to set up a business.”
Andrew launched Hype Internet Marketing in May to help small businesses build their online presence and convert “clicks to cash” – driving custom through digital marketing, made for the iPad and smartphone generation.
He said: “Within a week of launching I had my first client, a local accountancy firm. Their website and overall online presence needed an overhaul, bringing them up to date on social media and compatible with the new mobile web devices that everyone now has. This client quickly referred my business onto several of their business contacts and I have successfully completed work for them too. Within a short space of time they all found that their new websites and the other work that I had done for them was successfully converting clicks to cash and greatly improving their online presence.”
He is seeing profits rise as he gains a broader client base and is already thinking about taking on more staff to cope with demand.
“I have no doubt whatsoever that my business will be a very successful one. I have already forecast a 20% year on year increase in profit and identified the need to start employing more staff to assist with the workload by the end of this year.
And Andrew added; “I would recommend anyone who is thinking about starting their own business to get in contact with their local Job Centre who will be able to guide them to the right people.”