Last November 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.
Day three of Startup Basics took place in Vernon with our Executive in Residence, Alison Yesilcimen. If you weren’t able to join us in Vernon for Startup Basics Route 97 Edition, here is a behind the scenes look at what went down.
Yesilcimen taught two of our Startup Basics sessions that afternoon; Business Building and Laws of Attraction. Business building is focused on helping entrepreneurs build their business model canvas and Laws of attraction dives into the process of customer discovery. The goal of these sessions is to educate the entrepreneur on the fundamentals needed to transform their ideas into an actual startup.
“I can't stress enough how many entrepreneurs I've met that have spent a lot of money and time building out their products before validating there is a customer who is willing to pay for it,” says Yesilcimen. “Steve Blank's Four Steps to Epiphany outlines the customer development and validation model that we emphasize in our startup basics. Why? Because it really works!”.
[PRO TIP: This book is a crowd favourite with our Executives in Residence! Steve Blank's Four Steps to Epiphany.]
After the workshops, we opened the doors to our panel attendees. The Lessons Learned Panel 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 Vernon were; Peter O’brien, Founder of VO2 Master, Andrew McWilliam, Founder of Ratio Coffee & Pastry, as well as Kate Johnson and Julia Allen, Co-Founders of Locality. The panel was moderated by Kazia Mullin from Community Futures North Okanagan.
These entrepreneurs spoke on a variety of tough topics ranging from hiring your first employee, validating your market, and building strategy. It was an insightful afternoon filled with the highs and lows of the entrepreneurial journey.
Andrew McWilliam, owner and founder of Ratio Coffee and Pastry spoke about the importance of reaching out and finding mentors. “In Vernon we have quite a few high level successful business folks, who, if you sincerely asked them, would meet with you;” said McWilliam. “I have spent time with a lot of big tire company guys, and just sort of said ‘Can I ask you 10 questions ?’ and just listened. Don’t be afraid to go out and ask questions.”
[Editor’s Note: If you ever find yourself in Vernon at Ratio Coffee & Pastry ask Andrew about his Duck VS Eagle analogy if you are interested in advice around hiring the right employees.]
A big thanks to Valley First and MNP for teaming up with us and helping us bring Route 97 to life. This project allowed us to connect with so many entrepreneurs from across the entire Okanagan and we couldn’t have done it without your support.