Sharon Vinderine never seems to slow down.
As the charismatic, ambitious founder of Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA), Vinderine typically operates at one speed.
All out full throttle.
A highly respected leader and award-winning, industry-leading entrepreneur, Vinderine founded PTPA in 2007 and has built the brand to become the perennial leader in consumer product awards. Powered by a community of over 200,000 parents, the renowned Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal of Approval is recognized by millions of consumers as the symbol of trust and credibility.
Vinderine has made over 300 television appearances on networks such as ABC, NBC, FOX and Headline News, and has promoted winning products on programs including The Rachael Ray Show, The Steve Harvey Show, EXTRA! and FOX and Friends.
Parent Tested Parent Approved isn’t her first entrepreneurship rodeo. Before launching PTPA, Vinderine founded MIPPS Net Online, Canada’s first wireless Internet Company. The venture made PROFIT Magazine’s list of Canada’s Hottest Startups and led to Vinderine being named one of Canada’s Rising Stars by the magazine. She has received several high-profile awards including the 2020 Women of Influence Innovation Award, RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award and Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year.
Vinderine is also a solid pillar of her community. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Friends of Sheba Medical Center and was previously on the Board of Directors for the Israel Cancer Research Fund. She is also a spokesperson for Sontiq (A TransUnion Brand) for their Family Security Today website and works tirelessly to raise youth mental health and cyberbullying awareness.
In honor of 2022 Women’s Entrepreneurship Day on November 19, we sat down with Sharon to talk about the leader behind the brand and what motivates her to keep moving forward with the pedal to the floor.
How did Parent Tested Parent Approved get started?
I was looking for ways to promote a product I had invented for babies called the Kangaroo Towel. I submitted my product to several “awards programs”, each one promising to reach a specific retailer and consumer audience. It was disappointing to learn that every product submitted was a “winner.” No testing process, no reviews, no feedback, no outreach to consumers. It was the only motivation I needed. I knew I would start my own product awards program, and it would stand out.
What does your typical day look like?
I’m an early riser and am incredibly productive in the morning. I’m usually awake by 5 a.m., do a short meditation because I need something to slow my brain down, hit the gym and then take on the day, getting to work by around 7. I try to have what I refer to as my “challenging work” done by 11. The rest of the day is a blur with meetings, putting out any fires I need to, sales calls, brainstorming and keeping my sales and marketing teams on their toes with new ideas. My mind is always racing. I have an incredible team and we just do what needs to be done. We’re an all-hands-on-deck team. Some days are more productive than others, and there are days when I’m done work and I ask myself “what did I do for the last 10 hours?” Whenever I really need to buckle down and get stuff done, I put on my noise-canceling headphones, crank up the classic music and just tune out the world. That’s my productivity rockstar mode.
What do you do to bring your creative vision to life?
It’s all about passion for me. If I don’t feel passionate about it, if I don’t think it can work, I won’t do it. I don’t have all the answers, but I know what inspires me and I’m relentless in pursuit of my dream. I can do anything I put my mind to, but it must be something I believe in. If I think it’s possible, then let’s do it. Let’s get it done. The seal of approval is something I came up with, felt passionate enough to get it designed and more than 15 years later, the seal is on thousands of products and is trusted by millions of consumers. As cliché as it sounds, when you believe in something, anything is possible.
What would you say your proudest accomplishment is?
It’s very gratifying to have built an awards program that changes the way consumers buy products. I’ve been privileged to work with thousands of brands, from start-ups to iconic national brands, to build trust with consumers and help parents make informed and confident purchasing decisions. It’s a win-win for everyone. It’s why we’ve been so successful. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s also extremely rewarding.
What advice would you offer someone looking to start their own business?
Wow. There is so much to say. The most important thing is, like I said earlier, only do something you are passionate about. Believe in what you are doing, and don’t settle. There are too many highs and lows in running a business, and if you aren’t ready for the challenges you will face, it takes an emotional toll. If you’re in it just to make a quick buck, stay where you are and don’t go into business for yourself. If you are going to take the plunge, be passionate, and be in it for the long haul. It doesn’t happen overnight.
How do you stay inspired?
By reading. I am obsessed with reading. I stay inspired by reading about successful entrepreneurs who struggled early on, but persevered because they wouldn’t accept failure. One of my favorite reads is Sir Richard Branson’s Losing My Virginity. Best book ever. It shows you that luck is a product of your own hard work and how relentless you must be to be “lucky”. Winners create their own luck.
What’s the best advice you ever received from a mentor?
My dad was my mentor. He told me that no matter what business you go into, be disruptive. Create change. Make sure you challenge the status quo, and don’t be afraid to change the way people think or how they do things. One thing he said to me that I’ll never forget: make sure people are better off after knowing you than they were before they met you. I’ve carried those words with me throughout my life and as a result, PTPA has given away over one million dollars in products to families all across North America. That is my way of giving back and having a positive impact on the lives of others.
What is one thing you would recommend all entrepreneurs do?
Listen to your team and learn from them. The best leaders are those who learn from others. You’ve brought them on to your team because they are good at what they do. They have great ideas and they need to know their opinions matter. They give you a perspective that maybe you did not have before. If you don’t think you have anything to learn from them, you may as well close your doors and go at it yourself. A true leader knows there will always be something to learn.
What’s the next thing you want to accomplish?
I would love to create a not-for-profit focused on the mental health of our children. It’s another subject I’m extremely passionate about. Technology is impacting today’s youth, and we must come together and do what we can to help these kids “disconnect”. We are still coming back from the pandemic. For two years, our children lost critical social and educational opportunities that are important to their growth and development, and their mental health suffered for it. They’re still struggling, and we need to be there for them.
What is the quote that inspires you?