As a busy entrepreneur faced with the day-to-day grind of running your business, you might not have the luxury to think about your long-term growth plans. Stepping back and assessing whether you’re on the right track and what steps you need to stay on that path is extremely valuable. For 18 Futurpreneur-supported businesses, they had the opportunity to do just that, focusing exclusively on their future business growth at our Spring 2019 Growth Accelerator in Toronto.
Held in partnership with Spin Master, Dentons and Spaces Queen West, and supported by our partners Morrison Financial and Ramp Communications, the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 cohorts connected with experts and mentors to develop their growth plans, expand their networks and gain the knowledge and confidence to take the next big step in their business.
Day 1 was set aside for the returning Fall 2018 cohort, where the majority of the sessions took the form of 1:1 mentoring and coaching sessions with leading industry experts.
For Little Robot Friends, who are aiming to sell to the K-12 education market, the opportunity to meet with Nancy Teodoro from Microsoft proved to be a real difference maker that opened the door to tangible action items and networking opportunities. Similarly, Rozina Darvesh from North Brewing Company says the chance to discuss sustainability issues with Brett Wills of Green Enterprise gave her valuable insights into “how to really start a tracking process to get baseline values measured for environmental impact.”
It was a hive of activity at Spin Master’s headquarters for our second day, where every business met with senior leaders and participated in group discussions. Mehdi Rahman, Director of Global Learning and Development at Spin Master, and co-Executive Sponsor of the Growth Accelerator, believes his colleagues took away more than just a chance to meet with exciting and growing businesses. As mentors, the Spin Master team drew on their knowledge and expertise and challenged the entrepreneurs to think about all the possible angles when scaling up.
Getting a chance to ask questions of a multi-billion dollar company can be few and far between, but benefitting from the human capital and expertise was hugely impressive for Reid Hemsing of Two Wheel Gear. His mentor, Janberk Rucuklu, had taken the time to work with data provided by Reid prior to their meeting and developed a dashboard and scorecard that would help with demand forecasting. Taïna Chalifoux of Di Napoli Caffe particularly appreciated the straightforward approach of her mentor, co-Executive Program Sponsor Tom Linnemann, which helped validate her growth plans while having an honest conversation about sales and branding.
For the new cohort, the final day was spent working closely with representatives from Dentons, Ramp Communications and Morrison Financial, who each provided a unique perspective on growth. The sessions provided valuable insights for businesses like plant-based ice cream producer Nora’s Non-Dairy from BC who found the opportunity for feedback paramount to the decision-making process for their potential expansion to Ontario or the I-5 corridor (Washington, Oregon, California). Co-founder Tyler Bothwell also appreciated the ability to dive deep into developing their brand so that potential customers “understand who we are and what our values are.”
Businesses also had a chance to share their own experiences and provide input on each other’s challenges through a series of facilitated small group discussions. Carolyn Crewe of Duckish Natural Skin Care described the peer discussion as “mindblowing” and the cross-pollination of ideas useful to learn what works and what doesn’t from each other’s experience.
Of course, it’s not all work and no play at the Growth Accelerator. The cohorts were introduced at an intimate but casual dinner and enjoyed a Networking Night hosted at Spin Master, which coincided with the celebration and presentation of the 2018 Futurpreneur Canada Awards.
Applications for the Fall 2019 Growth Accelerator will open in mid-summer. The Growth Accelerator program identifies Futurpreneur-supported businesses who have proven market traction and ambitious growth objectives, and invites them to an intensive whirlwind of tailored expertise and advice twice a year. Participants pitch to land a spot out of an available ten in a cohort. Successful entrepreneurs are expected to provide detailed information about their business growth and share regular updates on their progress.
Nick Yeo is the Senior Program Manager at Futurpreneur Canada.