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Alumni Q & A: Karri Anne Bylsma and Taneel Din of Behind the Diamond

Have you ever watched a proposal scene in your favorite Rom-Com and thought to yourself: I wish I could be a part of something like that. Well, Karri Anne Bylsma and Taneel Din, two Tourism and Hospitality - Event Management grads can help you with that. Their event planning business, Behind the Diamond, specializes in creating elaborate proposals and life-time memories for their clients. The two entrepreneurs talked to us via email about the inspiration for their business, what they’ve learned since they launched their enterprise, and their plans to grow Behind the Diamond.

What program did you study at Humber?

Both Taneel and I went to Humber College North Campus for the Tourism and Hospitality - Event Management program, where we learned about the logistics behind planning successful corporate and social events.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

We decided to start our own business because we were inspired by our Entrepreneurship teacher, Paul McCabe, who also owns his own business. He was a great mentor alongside Colin Bartley and made us feel as though we would be successful and encouraged us to pursue this opportunity.

How did you come up with the business idea behind your company?

The concept came to Karri when she was driving home late one night with her boyfriend of 6 years. During their car ride she was thinking about whether or not her boyfriend would ever pop the question. This thought then turned into another question: would he need help planning a perfect proposal that would exemplify their life-long relationship?

How did Humber help prepare you to run your own company?

Humber College provided us with strong and experienced mentors who were able to help us with the process of writing our business plan and applying for the New Venture Seed Competition, which we won this year.

If you could give any advice to future HRT entrepreneurs, what would it be?

Taneel: It is important to use the tools that you have readily available to you through Humber College and to network as much as possible so that when the time comes you can ensure that you are more prepared than your competitors.

Karri: The instructors at Humber College are industry experts that can help you get to where you are going. If you are hoping to become an entrepreneur it is essential that you find strong mentors that can help answer questions for you and seek out other resources that can assist you in planning for your future.

What was the biggest hurdle you have faced so far in your career and how did you overcome it?

The biggest roadblock that we have had to overcome is making a name for ourselves in the industry. Although we don’t have very many competitors, we are young and often don’t get enough credit for our capabilities. We have the background in education and we have been diligently working on getting the experience to back up our qualifications; however, sometimes it’s hard for people to see past our ages.

If you could go back in time and give your student self any advice, what would it be?

I wouldn’t have any advice to give my student self, each step we have taken in starting our business has been a learning curve and we wouldn’t be where we are without having these experiences. We are grateful for all of the difficult times we have faced because they have essentially helped shape this business.

What do you like most about your profession?

We love hearing all the different proposal stories and the bride-to-be light up when they retell their story. As a company we strive to create everlasting memories that will be retold for a lifetime and we love creating unique and memorable ways for couples to display their love for each other.

Where do you see your career heading in the next 5 years?

We would like to have a large enough client base that we won’t need to do as much advertising as we currently do and to see individuals come to us rather than trying to scout new business. We would also like to be so busy that we can leave our full-time jobs and hire employees that can assist us with our busy proposal planning schedule. In addition to this, we would also love to open up our own space where we can physically showcase what proposals we have done in the past and how we can do the same for new clients.

What position did you hold prior to starting your business?

Karri-Anne Bylsma- Special Events Coordinator that specialized in creating family friendly and social events that related to learning and education. Karri was responsible for planning all of the logistical aspects behind these events and executing them with the team that she managed. Taneel Din - Administrative Assistant, Events & Accounts payable that specialized in booking entertainment, décor, catering and many other aspects of the event. She was responsible for managing a team of skilled individuals and ensuring that the client's expectations were met on the day of the event.

How did you come up with your company name?

The company reflects what we see ourselves doing in each proposal, reflecting the couple’s relationship and demonstrating why they are getting engaged. We want each and every one of the proposals that we plan to be unique to the couple and in order to do this we dig a little to deeper to find out exactly what is Behind their Diamond.

Where or who do you get your inspiration from?

We get our inspiration from each other and the unique values that each one of us feels is important. We also get our inspiration from the clients that we meet. We love hearing about the relationship that has been built and how important it is. This inspires us to do everything that we can to make our clients and ourselves proud.

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