Early this month we launched the Route 97 Edition of Startup Basics. On November 5th our team hit the road and spent time in four different Okanagan cities over four days. The purpose of the Route 97 Edition of Startup Basics was to engage in a meaningful way with entrepreneurs and community organizations and to support the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem across the Okanagan.
In each of the four cities (Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon, and Salmon Arm), Accelerate Okanagan mentors presented two back-to-back workshop-style sessions, followed by a panel discussion featuring local entrepreneurs and innovators, and we ended each evening with a networking opportunity designed to build community and inspire connection. This was our teams first time taking Startup Basics on the road, and we were overwhelmed by the response from the valley.
If you weren’t able to join us in Penticton for Startup Basics Route 97 Edition, don’t worry here is a behind the scenes look at what went down.
Startup Basics kicked off at Cowork Penticton with our Executive-in-Residence, Alison Yesilcimen. Alison facilitated the two Startup Basics Workshops; Laws of Attraction and Pitching Power.
When asked what her ideal outcome from the two Startup Basics sessions Alison said “I hope that entrepreneurs stop putting time into building their products and start talking to prospective customers. It’s so important to find out how your product solves their problem!!”. As an entrepreneur it is so easy to get wrapped up in your idea, but if you don’t spend the time connecting with your customer to figure out if there is a market you could be wasting a lot of time and money.
Not all the attendees were entrepreneurs themselves; some were community members that were interested in learning about how they could help entrepreneurs. It was so rewarding to connect with people that have the same passion as us when it comes to helping entrepreneurs throughout the Okanagan.
After the workshops, we gathered in the lounge to get geared up for the Lessons Learned Panel, while snacking on a Nest and Nectar Charcuterie board, and some local beverages from Time Winery and Highway 97 Brewery. The room was buzzing with conversation about the previous sessions.
The Lessons Learned Panel was an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to share their journey, insights, challenges, and successes in order to inspire early stage entrepreneurs to take the leap. Our Penticton panelists Fergy Foster, Co-Founder of The Nest and Nectar, Luc Rodgers, Founder of Survey Life, and Scott McMillian, Founder of X.co shared their experiences (the good and the bad) with facilitator Jennifer Vincent, Founder of Cowork Penticton.
When Owner of The Nest & Nectar, Fergy was asked If she had known how difficult it was going to be would she have done it? She promptly responded “I can tell you right now, I married my husband a week before we moved to Penticton and if we thought that it was going to be this cute little husband and wife – sweet little project…it would have been a disaster…hearts would have been broken and we would have failed miserably. Building your own business is HARD, and education and experience is KEY KEY KEY – that’s for sure”.
A big thanks to Valley First and MNP for teaming up with us and helping us bring Route 97 to life. This project allowed us to connect with so many entrepreneurs from across the entire Okanagan and we couldn’t have done it without your support.
Want more? Check out our coverage of Kelowna, Vernon, and Salmon Arm.