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Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Nico Taus and Frank Chartrand

"Northern Ontario has been great, because you have a sense of community in Northern Ontario."

Dare to be different. Seek out change. Push the envelope (always).

The first three items in Bureau's manifesto speak to the ideology behind the Sudbury marketing firm. But they speak perhaps even more succinctly to the personalities behind it.

Frank Chartrand, 26, and Nico Taus, 25, were fresh out of the graphic design program at Cambrian College when they started the marketing and webdesign firm. Each had spent some time at local design companies until a drooping economy meant the firms could no longer afford to keep them. Chartrand enrolled in the communications course at Laurentian University, while Taus considered moving to Montreal. But then the duo started batting around the idea of starting their own venture.

"We didn't feel companies were harnessing this sort of social-media marketing revolution that was happening in 2008 with everything coming up," Taus said. "So we said, 'Why don't we give it a shot and do our own thing.'"

Starting with a few clients—friends who put their faith in their design skills— they slowly began growing the business. Initially, a full 80 per cent of their business came from francophone clients, and today that number sits around 40 per cent. Taus and Chartrand are both bilingual.

Now in its fourth full year, the company has worked with an eclectic group of clients. Among them are Collège Boréal; Université de Hearst; Freelandt, Caldwell, Reilly LLP; Laurentian University; Carrefour Francophone; and Le Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario.

Taus and Chartrand developed their minimalistic approach to design after touring Canada, the U.S. and Europe with their punk rock band and taking inspiration from the design aesthetic employed in some of the world's most cosmopolitan cities.

But Sudbury remains a good place to do business, Taus said, which is why the pair eventually returned home to start up Bureau. A smaller city is conducive to word-of-mouth recommendations, Taus said, which have been the bread and butter of their business to date.

"Northern Ontario has been great, because you have a sense of community in Northern Ontario," Taus said. "Northern Ontario and Sudbury facilitate that word of mouth; it's much easier to be recognized."

Bureau hasn't received any startup money for the business—Chartrand and Taus prefer the do-it-yourself approach— but have accepted help in the form of mentorship from Réal Fortin, formerly of 50 Carleton. He expressed an interest in their work early on, and has since taken on a role as a senior consultant.

The firm has grown by an employee a year, and its founders are discerning in their hiring process, preferring to work with designers whose design aesthetic fits with theirs. Both former teachers of the design course at Cambrian, Chartrand and Taus have also hired successive Cambrian grads.

Taus sees it as a way to give back to the community that provided him and Chartrand with a solid design background.

"Our time at Cambrian was very beneficial to us, and I don't think we'd be where we are if it wasn't for some of the staff that was there, primarily the program coordinator, Ron Beltrame, who had a huge effect on us," he said.

This summer, Taus and Chartrand employed their DIY approach to their downtown location, taking three months to revamp the office into a modern, stylish space, better suited to clients' needs. They considered purchasing space elsewhere, but ultimately decided to remain downtown at the centre of Sudbury's bustling artistic scene where art, food and music converge.

"We love being part of downtown," Taus said. "We never really considered being anywhere else, because there's a sense of community here as opposed to being somewhere else I don't feel there would be."