Talking Peanut Butter with Business Students

Last week, Jill Van Gyn, CEO of Fatso High Performance Peanut Butter, visited campus to speak with our Business Education 10 students about her experience as an entrepreneur and her recent successful appearance on Dragons’ Den.

Jill, who attended SMUS from 1993 to 1995, is one of many business owners in Victoria who offer up their expertise to our business students to help round out their education. Through guest speakers and field trips throughout Victoria, students gain unique insight from hearing from business owners and entrepreneurs.

“I am not the fountain of all knowledge. There are lots of people in Victoria doing lots of incredibly neat things that the students can benefit from,” says Mr. Graham Lilly, who teaches business and entrepreneurship courses with Mrs. Sarah Beeston. “We want students to experience as wide a range of business enterprise as possible.

“Exposing business students to a variety of speakers and business owners helps us show a breadth of practical knowledge, a diversity of experience and a diversity of ideas,” Graham adds. 

Below are some student reflections on Jill Van Gyn’s talk to the Business Education 10 class:

by Claire Pontefract
I love having outside speakers from the community come talk to us. It’s such a great opportunity to learn from inspiring people outside of our school’s walls. It’s one thing to hear about businesses and the economy from our teacher, but hearing it from someone who’s completely involved and dedicated to it is something that no teacher can portray. Listening to somebody’s personal experiences helps to paint a better picture of what it would be like to create your own product and company.

From Jill’s talk, I learned how much confidence in risk-taking you must acquire to have your own product. Jill explained to us that she has two employees: herself and an intern she hired only a couple of weeks ago. She has to believe in herself. If not, Jill doesn’t have anyone to fall back on. She was also very confident about her product. We asked about competition and she mentioned that there is another brand that’s pretty much identical to hers on the market, but it doesn’t scare Jill.

I definitely learned a lot about business and the economy from her talk, but one thing she said really stood out for me; she said that it doesn’t matter if you are 37 and haven’t found your life’s purpose, which was the position she was in. Don’t force yourself to pursue something that doesn’t make you wake up with a smile on your face.

Jill talked about how she increases demand through advertising, letting people sample it and doing whatever she can to make ‘Fatso’ a well-known name. She also explained that when you are bringing a product up from nothing, you have to focus on making it very popular locally before you can branch out nationally and internationally.

I took Business Education 10 because business is a part of everyone’s life, whether you are a consumer or producer, buyer or seller. Understanding how the economy we live in works is not an opportunity everyone gets, and is very valuable information to have. Jill’s talk gave a deeper, more detailed insight about understanding how business works, and she did a great job of doing that!

by Ethan Brownsey
Jill from Fatso Peanut Butter gave a very convincing, inspiring talk. Most of all, though, she is very confident in her product. She definitely appears as an excellent entrepreneur and knew everything about her business. I personally loved the product and so did my family! I found that the talk could not have gone better and I look forward to seeing where her company goes in the future.

by Julie Robinson
Mr. Lilly’s Business Education 10 class had the amazing honour to welcome Jill Van Gyn to come to speak to us about her delicious product called ‘Fatso’, which is a peanut butter hybrid. She educated us about how to run a business and the ups and downs that come with it. Her talk with us left me even more interested and excited about business class. One thing I took away was how passionate she is about what she was talking about. Her level of confidence demonstrates that she loves what she does. This makes me excited for the future and being able to find something that makes me feel as passionate as Jill is for her business.


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