In 2014 I imagined a Comox Valley on fire with entrepreneurial passion. I was working with startups in Vancouver. I was enjoying the heat of their passion for creating businesses, for collaboration, for fuelling each others’ ambitions.
Fast forward two years. September 28, 2016. The first #WeAreYQQ PitchFest. Three judges with startup, seven entrepreneurs pitching, $5000 in prizes. 120+ people are in the room pumped with “startup fever.” I’m smiling.
Basic community economic development smarts says: start where you’re at. Grow local businesses to meet local needs. Fuel local talent to reach for bigger markets. Inspire grassroots, entrepreneurial, direct economic action.
Bureaucrats can’t make this shift happen. They can play an important role in the “entrepreneurial ecosystem,” as startup communities guru Brad Feld says. But it’s the entrepreneurs who make shift happen.
Starting and running a business is stressful. It’s risky. Only other entrepreneurs can who know what it’s like, lying awake at night wondering how to pay the bills. The research says: entrepreneurs who support each other we are more likely to succeed.
A year ago the LIFT team proposed to start a Startup Canada chapter. We wanted to be part of the cross-Canada network of entrepreneurs that Startup Canada is building. Thanks to efforts Leif Jason, Kelsey Wood, co-chair Bob Wells, and a host of other entrepreneurs, SCV is now helping to make our local “entrepreneur ecosystem” a little more functional for the grassroots creatives and entrepreneurs in our economy.
On January 25, 2017, LIFT hosted the #WeAreYQQ Winter Party. One of our regular and (un)usual shindigs, it was also a fundraiser SCV. With support from Startup Canada, the event featured Dr. Sean Wise. Venture capitalist, Ryerson U’s Professor of Entrepreneurship, and former Dragons’ Den advisor, Wise presented on why now is the best time to be an entrepreneur. Wise delivered. Big time.
Our community has a history of self-starters. People who choose this place, then figure out a way to survive here. Wise showed us tools to turn our entrepreneur bent into something bigger. If you were in the audience, I’ve already sent you his follow-up email with tools and tips. If you weren’t’ there, send me a note at [email protected].
Feeding the fire
At LIFT, we’re feeding the fire with our twice-monthly BizOnDeck workshops. Now it’s time for the next level. Time to talk about money.
Curtis Scoville, LIFT VIP and financial planner, suggested LIFT do some work on this. He said lack of money is keeping some Comox Valley businesses from being what they can be, and that many business owners are afraid to talk to potential partners, lenders, or investors about their business financial plan or cash flow.” He suggested LIFT could be doing something about that.
#WeAreYQQ Spring Party & Financial Marketplace
LIFT is about “new ideas.” With Curtis’ help we worked on the Financial Marketplace idea. On March 30 we’re hosting another entrepreneur party – and this time we’ll be bringing some new ideas about money into this entrepreneur community. We’ll have Keith Ippel, of global startup school Spring U, as our keynote. Plus a few others, like BDC, and Island equity crowdfunding experts from Consider Funding.
Our goal: to fuel your fire.
LIFT: Leading, inspiring, and fuelling talent. We’re looking for ways to help entrepreneurs make shift happen.
Want to grow your business? Join us on March 30 for the #WeAreYQQ Spring Party & Financial Marketplace. Tickets: WeAreYQQParty.ca.