How do you successfully grow a business into new sectors or markets—especially during a global pandemic?

Starting this week through to September, 25 young entrepreneurs from across the country will receive expert guidance on how to grow their businesses internationally, launch new products or move into new sectors with Futurpreneur’s Growth Accelerator, an exclusive program taking place digitally for the first time this year.

Through an exclusive series of digital meetings, workshops and networking opportunities, the 2021 cohort—each a Futurpreneur entrepreneur with a business in the retail or manufacturing sectors—will map out achievable growth goals and learn new strategies for taking their businesses to the next level.

The Growth Accelerator is delivered in partnership with Spin Master Inc. and Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB) and supported by Dentons Canada and Ramp Communications.

Meet the entrepreneurs:

BAECHU KIMCHI (Regina, SK)

Baechu produces naturally fermented kimchi with locally sourced ingredients, eliminating artificial additives or preservatives needed to retain probiotics during international transport. Their goals include increasing revenue while cutting production costs.

BALLET HOP! (Montreal, QC)

Taking part in the Growth Accelerator program for the second time, Ballet Hop offers ballet classes and workouts, as well as operating an online and brick-and-mortar ballet store.

BERT’S FOODS (Woodbridge, ON)

Bert’s produces Oh My Okra, a snack made of lightly salted okra that retains most of the plant’s nutrients thanks to a low-temperature cooking method. Bert’s Foods is hoping to grow the business by introducing new product lines while keeping ethics and transparency top of mind.

BOUSWARI (Toronto, ON)

This accessories brand, founded by Diarra Bousso Niang, partners with local artisans in Senegal to offer products that mix the country’s fine traditional craftsmanship with unique contemporary and practical designs. She plans to grow the business by opening a workshop in Senegal that trains young men and women as artisans while maintaining product quality.

CANOE COLA (Vancouver, BC)

Canoe produces four flavours of low-sugar craft sodas supplied to restaurants and breweries in the Vancouver area. Their Fizzy Lemonade even won Vancouver Magazine’s award for Best Zero Proof Drink. Canoe Cola plans to begin selling products in aluminum cans to make shipping and storage more efficient. The founders also hope to grow the business into the U.S. market and increase competitiveness overall.

CHOCO DE LÉA INC. (Montreal, QC)

Founder Léa Audet put five years of vegan gastronomy and molecular cuisine experience into this eco-friendly chocolaterie. Choco De Lea’s bean-to-bar products are made directly from the cocoa beans rather than premade chocolate.

Lorne Prefontaine and Sheena Beatty of Crew Rowhouse

CREW ROWHOUSE LTD. (Saskatoon, SK)

Crew is a boutique fitness studio that combines rowing and high-intensity interval training workouts. Their business growth plan originally involved expanding to five studios in five years but in the interim, they are seeking to increase revenue and weather the effects of COVID-19.

EDUCATED BEARDS (Fredericton, NB)

This sustainably sourced, organic skincare brand, offering products like beard oil and moustache wax, is aiming to become an internationally recognized brand and a leader in the field of skincare. In addition to growing the brand globally, they’re hoping to reconfigure their export plan beyond trade shows in the wake of COVID.

HYDE ARTISAN LEATHER (Regina, SK)

Hyde is a socially focused B2B and B2C distributor and manufacturer of artisan-made leather bags and accessories, all produced in India by artisans paid fair wages. The brand refocused during COVID-19, updating their website to drive new revenue streams.

IRON ROCK BREWING (Labrador City, NL)

The first brewery to operate in Labrador, Iron Rock produces beer for takeaway and operates a 142-person taproom for in-house consumption, as well as private event rentals. They’re seeking to grow the business in a number of areas, chiefly by improving measurement capabilities to gain a better sense of the company’s performance and needs.

ISLAND SAUCE CO. (Sydney, NS)

A sauce and food condiment company, Island Sauce Company Limited also offers catering, and sells clothing, merchandise and BBQ accessories. Their products are available in 30 stores throughout Nova Scotia, as well as online. Their flagship retail location opened in Sydney in November 2020. Their goal is to grow their business nationwide.

Catherine Addai-Boadu of Kaela Kay

KAELA KAY (Toronto, ON)

Kaela Kay offers feminine, classic clothing designs featuring Ankara textiles from Africa, with sizes running up to 22 (and custom designs available for any size). Kaela Kay’s clothing is produced in Toronto by local seamstresses; the company is hoping to expand out of a niche market during COVID without a focus on cutting prices.

KINDRED CULTURES INC (Vancouver, BC)

Kindred Cultures distributes its probiotic-rich water kefir primarily via wholesale to 66 retail partners, including Whole Foods, Spud.ca, Choices Markets, Meinhardts, and Nature’s Fare. Their expansion goals include increasing social impact and acquiring a better production facility.

MOKA TOUTOU MUSICAL (Lorraine, QC)

Moka Toutou Musical produces a musical teddy bear aimed at introducing young children to classical music. The company experienced a rapid expansion after appearing on Dans L’Oeil Du Dragon, the French version of Dragon’s Den, and is now looking to expand while maintaining product quality.

Wilmer Hernandez of Montañeros Coffee

MONTAÑEROS COFFEE (Brampton, ON)

Montañeros’ beans are purchased directly from independent farms in Colombia, roasted in Ontario and sold to coffee shops, restaurants and grocery stores, as well as directly online to consumers. They hope to grow the business into the U.S. market, diversify their offering and streamline both B2B and B2C sales processes.

MR. ARANCINO SICILIAN RISOTTO BALLS (Vancouver, BC)

This specialty food company produces Sicilian risotto balls, called arancini, in vegan, vegetarian and meat-based varieties. Originally focused on in-person food service and event catering, the business is looking to move into new sectors to weather the pandemic, including frozen, grocery and B2B.

NORTHERN SAUNAS (Saint-Basile-le-Grand, QC)

Northern Saunas markets infrared and traditional saunas in North America. The company is experiencing rapid growth and is looking for strategies to scale staff and facilities in a manageable way. They are currently expanding into different types of products related to the sauna industry.

OLD SCHOOL CHEESERY LTD (Vermilion, AB)

This family-run business produces a variety of cheeses, including specialized versions aged in honey and whiskey. The father-daughter team behind Old School is hoping to increase productivity and create new products from excess cheese as a new revenue stream.

ONEBERRIE (Invermere, BC)

Oneberrie’s flagship product is the Hands Free Towel, a robe-like towel meant to grow with children as they grow from newborns to toddlers. The company is growing beyond its current manufacturing capability and is looking to improve its processes and seek scaling opportunities.

ORIGINE EN VRAC (Quebec City, QC)

A bulk grocery store focusing on local food suppliers, Origine en Vrac seeks to promote better habits by promoting the sustainable and responsible consumption of organic, fair-trade products. They hope to grow their business by opening a second location.

RE4M DESIGN & FABRICATION (Ottawa, ON)

RE4M is a recycling design and consulting firm that rescues discarded material, including furnishing, figures and displays, and repurposes them into products for the commercial industry to divert waste. The company has directly diverted over 6000 pounds of waste since its inception in 2016. RE4M is hoping to expand staff and increase social and community impact.

Naomie Caron of Selfish Swimwear

SELFISH SWIMWEAR (Montreal, QC)

Selfish designs, manufactures and sells locally made swimwear using recycled and deadstock fabrics. Their product range, which includes bathing suits, cover-ups and accessories, has been featured in Elle Canada, Elle Quebec and the Globe and Mail. The onset of COVID drove Selfish to increase its focus on selling direct to consumer, a strategy that has expanded its sales in the American market; now, they hope to improve branding and marketing overall.

T BAR (Mont Tremblant, QC)

T Bar is a “unique activity-based retail store” and studio space that lets shoppers customize apparel and accessories through graphics and/or silk screen designs. They hope to grow their business by opening a second location and designing a strategy for future franchises.

TRAINFO (Winnipeg, MB)

TRAINFO uses train detection sensors and machine-learning processes to predict rail crossing blockages and associated traffic delays up to 30 minutes before train arrival. They offer their services to public agencies, including public works departments and emergency services. Their current business expansion goal is to increase their sales team in order to pitch their technology to government agencies.

WRECK BEACH SPIRITS (Garibaldi Highlands, BC)

Wreck Beach, an alcoholic beverage producer specializing in frozen cocktails, sells to distributors across the U.S. and Canada. Their goal is to grow their revenue by 300% in 2021 as well as acquire capital.

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