What happens when you mix 17 businesses, 27 entrepreneurs, 51 mentors and experts and over 125 hours of meetings and workshops over a 3 day period?
Other than a tired group of Futurpreneur team members; you get a successful Spring 2018 Growth Accelerator!
From June 25 to 27, we played host and matchmaker for Cohorts 1 & 2 of the Growth Accelerator, an exclusive opportunity for Futurpreneur-supported businesses with growth ambitions to get expert advice to develop and fine-tune their strategies. These sessions and networking opportunities were made possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors Spin Master, Dentons, Morrison Financial and Ramp Communications.
Let’s see what happened!
We started off at MaRS Discovery District, where the Fall 2017 Cohort shared their reflections on what had happened with their businesses since they were last in Toronto. Part of this exercise involved updating their peers on how they met their SMART (Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-Bound) goals. Although a few members of the cohort were surprised we had kept these from the last event, we’re glad that most of them were able to achieve their goals!
Each business was then paired up with experts in sales, marketing, operations, legal, public relations or financial management. These 70 minute one-on-one sessions were the perfect amount of time for businesses to dig into the topics and take away actionable steps. We wrapped up the day with an HR workshop led by Glenn Nishimura, who walked them through exercises to understand their core values and how it translates to building a culture for a business.
“Amazing. The legal counsel was EXACTLY what we needed and was invaluable!” – ChargeHub
In the evening, we hosted a cohorts-only dinner for both groups of entrepreneurs to meet and network with each other for the first time. Vibrant and engaging discussions happened throughout the evening as they shared their entrepreneurial journeys and compared their challenges and successes. Even after the dinner wrapped up, lots of the entrepreneurs were still in deep conversation!
The second cohort of the Growth Accelerator program joined up with Cohort 1 for a day of interactive learning and networking. Spin Master, an incredible Futurpreneur partner since 2010, were our hosts for the day and welcomed us to their new home in the heart of the Entertainment District in downtown Toronto. Even though they had just settled into their new digs, they were ready for a busy day of meetings and group discussions. Executives and seasoned professionals from Spin Master’s team sat with entrepreneurs in one-on-one meetings, giving the cohorts a sneak peek on how a global international company does business and shared strategies of how they might scale their results. In addition to these meetings, we also ran Expert Exchanges: group coaching sessions facilitated by an expert on key growth topics. Toronto is home to many professionals and consultants who were happy to volunteer their time and share their knowledge on B2B sales and partnerships, accessing additional financing, client account management and social good marketing. We were also privileged to have Spin Master’s co-founder and co-CEO Ronnen Harary share stories of how he grew his company with his partners from its humble beginnings to the international giant it is today. It was a fantastic opportunity for the cohorts to get advice from someone who has seen it all.
“Well tailored to our specific needs, lots of valuable feedback” – Permission Click
Evening was a time for celebration at an invite-only reception for entrepreneurs, mentors, partners and other members of the entrepreneur eco-system. The sun was shining bright, the rooftop patio at Peter Pan Bistro was packed and the networking was in full swing. Cohort 1 participant Lumo Interactive set up an interactive media display that transformed guests’ heads and hands into animated animals. The networking event was the end of the Growth Accelerator for Cohort 1, but Cohort 2 still had one more day to go…
Our final day was hosted at Dentons, where Cohort 2 had the opportunity to sit with legal, marketing and financing experts to fine-tune their strategies. These 50 minute sessions were a great opportunity for them to pressure test their growth ideas and gain insight on where they might focus their attention. They also had a chance to pitch for additional prizing from Dentons and Ramp Communications. Each business had two minutes to share what they’d learned over the two-day experience and the growth strategies they’ll be applying, as well as a seven minute Q&A session with the panelists. The pitches were incredibly inspiring, making it a tense negotiation to figure out the first and second place winners! We’re pleased to announce that Wastenot Farms and Weatherlogics were the lucky two entrepreneurs to receive in-kind services from our partners.
“The connections with mentors + other business owners. The 1:1 help and connections were also incredible, I got so much valuable information.” – FRANC
The Spring 2018 Growth Accelerator was an excellent chance for entrepreneurs in the growth stage to get the reality check with their peers and experts on their plans. Key strategic decisions were developed and discussed, and connections were made that should last far beyond the next Growth Accelerator.
If you’re interested in applying for the next cohort, applications are open until July 31. Learn more at Futurpreneur.ca/GrowthAccelerator.