In November of last year we launched the Route 97 Edition of Startup Basics. On November 5th our team hit the road and spent time in four different Okanagan cities over four days. The purpose of the Route 97 Edition of Startup Basics was to engage in a meaningful way with entrepreneurs and community organizations and to support the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem across the Okanagan.
In each of the four cities (Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon, and Salmon Arm), Accelerate Okanagan mentors presented two back-to-back workshop-style sessions, followed by a panel discussion featuring local entrepreneurs and innovators, and we ended each evening with a networking opportunity designed to build community and inspire connection. This was our teams first time taking Startup Basics on the road, and we were overwhelmed by the response from the valley.
For those of you who weren’t able to join us in Salmon Arm here’s a behind the scenes look at what went down.
The Fourth and final day of Startup Basics took place at the new Salmon Arm Innovation Centre with our Executive-in-Residence, Scott Macfarlane.
Scott led two Startup Basics sessions that afternoon; Business Building and Laws of Attraction. These two sessions are essential for early stage entrepreneurs who are looking to define their customer, and build their business model canvas.
Salmon Arm’s Startup Basics Session was by far the busiest of the four cities we visited. The room was packed with a levels of entrepreneurs who shared the same passion for growing a business. Our goal going into this roadshow was to support the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem across the Okanagan and we were so fortunate to meet with so many entrepreneurs out in Salmon Arm and across the Okanagan.
When we asked what his number one piece of advice for early stage entrepreneurs was, mentioned that “It's very important to listen to customers and gather their input PRIOR to investing a lot of time and money in product development.”
“My biggest take away was that the importance of the customer discovery process and how it continues to be in all phases of a business. I enjoyed the way Allison and Scott continually enforced this throughout” mentioned Gary , one of our sponsors from MNP.
MacFarlane also spoke to the value of mentorship at all levels of the entrepreneurial journey. “Mentorship brings a more objective perspective on their business and can provide a reality check when interpreting feedback from customers and investors.”
After the workshops, we gathered in the Salmon Arm Innovation Centre lounge to get geared up for the Lessons Learned Panel. This was an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to share their journey, insights, challenges, and successes in order to inspire early stage entrepreneurs to take the leap.
The panelists in Salmon Arm were; Ed De Souza experienced entrepreneur, Dhane Merriman founder of Delta-C, and Althea Mongerson founder of Intwined Fibre Arts. The moderator for the Salmon Arm Panel was Andrew Klingel, professor at Okanagan College School of Business.
All entrepreneurial journeys begin with a gap and it’s just a matter of finding your gap and building out an idea. When asked when they decided to build their businesses, Althea explained how she found a need in the market and took the leap.
“My mother had always been a big spinner of fibre and a weaver so I had lots of background information in that. I come from a family full of crafters and makers, so I had a lot of knowledge with that respect and I also knew that Salmon Arm had been lacking a yarn store and the spinners and weavers guild have been complaining about that my entire life. So I thought oh that's something that I can go into! I saw a hole in our market and I thought I should fill that.”
A big thank you to Valley First and MNP for supporting Startup Basics Route 97. This project allowed us to connect with so many entrepreneurs throughout the Okanagan Valley and we couldn’t have done it without your support.