As the world becomes increasingly aware of the existence and effects of climate change, businesses and entrepreneurs have become more conscious of their ecological footprint and the ways it can be reduced. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, this issue is one of the greatest challenges of our time.
Futurpreneur Canada-supported Sycamore Energy is one of the Canadian companies leading the fight against climate change. Founded by Alex Stuart and his business partner Justin Phillips, the Manitoba-based company has been in the works for the last 10 years and has now become the province’s largest solar energy developer. Not only do they sell and install solar panels on a retail level, but also on a commercial and agricultural basis.
While Sycamore Energy has grown considerably over the last few years, their success did not happen overnight. The pair of entrepreneurs pitched their wind turbine product on Dragons’ Den and while it did not result in a handshake or deal, the pair had a revelation on their journey home that made it all worth it.
“We had a three-day drive home with our prototype wind turbine. The first day of driving was really miserable. The second day was filled with desperation as we realized we’d hit the end of the road for our present company, and the third day was when we decided not to fail. It was this third day when we changed direction away from developing our own product, to marketing and installing already established technologies,” said Alex.
After this pivot, Sycamore took off. While the early days were difficult, they found a way to work with very little start-up capital. Today, the company employs over 10 Manitobans and are currently hiring more.
“Seeing the team grow and knowing we have a shared purpose is really inspiring to Justin and I. We are pumped that sales are doing well, and we have the right technical experts to ensure the installations go smoothly and profitably,” he said.
In recent news, Sycamore Energy, under the brand of Solar Manitoba, has recently installed Manitoba’s largest Solar PV system in the province. With over 520 solar panels, a dairy farm in Otterburne, Manitoba will now be able to eliminate its hydro bill by using the power of the sun.
Our successful entrepreneurs were asked what advice they would offer to entrepreneurs contemplating starting their own business and this is what they had to say: “Do something you know. Pursue cash-flow first, and then you have the resources to chase your big ideas. Also, find someone who can warn you of the start-up pitfalls before you fall in (like we did). Lastly, with an open mind, you can learn so much from others in the same phase of growth, and from those who have gone before you.”
As for their experience with Futurpreneur, they say that they “would not have gotten to this point without funding from Futurpreneur Canada.” They also recommend people take advantage of the available networking and mentoring opportunities.
If you are interested in pursuing entrepreneurship, learn more here.
Written by: Sara Pivato, Social Media and Content Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada