Let’s face it, each stage of the entrepreneurial journey is unique. Entrepreneurs require different skills and a certain mindset to overcome the challenges they will come up against. Queue the Venture Acceleration Program (VAP). This six-month program is designed to support committed entrepreneurs who are ready to take their business to market. Participating entrepreneurs build life-long relationships with their peers as they work together through the startup process and engage with experienced mentors.
Last October, we welcomed several new companies to join our Venture Acceleration Fall Cohort. We are now excited to celebrate their graduation as they launch into the next stage of their journey.
We sat down with The Rogerie’s founder, Brayden Rogers, to find out how the 6-month program has helped to shape his business.
What was The Rogerie’s biggest challenge before you started the program?
General inexperience, though that’s very vague. We had done a lot of reading and research on how to start a business. But it’s a different story when the rubber meets the road and you get started. It was a scary change and there are big consequences to making the wrong choices.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since starting the program?
We were able to get a lot of focus. Although we had a pretty decent start, and we were on a good track, we weren’t really dialled into what our business was or how it would succeed. Going through the program, customer discovery, rigorous testing and development became very important. Now we’re confident in where we’re going and how we’re going to do it.
What was the value of relationship-building during the program?
We didn’t realize how important connections could be. Knowing somebody that knows somebody can be the difference between spending years in customer discovery and having your business take off overnight. We had BestLure, one of the other companies in the program reach out to us looking for some help in building out some new products. That alone was a pretty great connection to make.
What is the biggest challenge you’re facing now?
We’re short on capital, not critically though. We had orders come in faster than expected. Both our equipment and our design labour was becoming a bottleneck. Because we were trying to take on a lot of custom work, we were pretty much limited to how much testing and design I could do myself.
What are some of your future goals for the Rogerie?
We’re trying to build out an automated printing unit that can be distributed to urban centres. It’ll let us produce items where they need to be and reduce our shipping demands. We’re also working with a group in Africa that has access to plastic being pulled out of the ocean. That equipment infrastructure is what we’re moving towards.
What advice would you share with other entrepreneurs thinking about joining VAP?
Do it. Even if you aren’t sure whether certain parts are relevant to you. I found that it was a lot of work, and you’re always busy, but it’s an incredibly valuable program. You’re only paying $200 a month and you get to get great training from very successful entrepreneurs. There’s no downside. Commit to it and follow the program through.
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