Let’s face it, each stage of the entrepreneurial journey is unique. Entrepreneurs require different skills and a certain mindset to overcome the challenges they will come up against. Queue the Venture Acceleration Program (VAP). This six-month program is designed to support committed entrepreneurs who are ready to take their business to market. Participating entrepreneurs build life-long relationships with their peers as they work together through the startup process and engage with experienced mentors.
Last October, we welcomed several new companies to join our Venture Acceleration Fall Cohort. We are now excited to celebrate their graduation as they launch into the next stage of their journey.
We sat down with BestLure’s CEO, Jennifer Wood, to find out how the 6-month program has helped to shape her business.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in BestLure since joining the Venture Acceleration Program?
We’re moving a lot faster and we have employees in house. Our Mentor, Nick Toogood, brought in a manufacturing contractor. They did a walk-through of our shop and gave us some advice on our structure and how to layout the shop to make it more productive.
What advice really helped to shape your business?
Just sitting and chatting; a small topic could end up making a big impact, like using social media to get people’s opinions before we launch something. We just had a launch where we sent out 30 different colour schemes for our lures and we let the people decide which would go into production. We were getting hundreds of responses through social media, and we want to build that audience.
What was one of your most important takeaways from the program?
If you don’t know what you’re doing, hire someone that does. Take what you’re good at, roll with it and sub-out what you’re not good at. It just makes your life so much easier. I wasted so much time trying to learn how to make videos—what would take me 3 days could take a professional videographer 20 minutes. There are people who are good at the things you’re not good at doing, just let them do it.
Which aspect of the program did you find the most valuable?
I really liked the expert days. You’re talking to real people and can ask them about whatever you’re unsure of. It’s really tough to do things on your own when you’re not familiar with how to do certain aspects. There’s still a lot that we’ll need help with, like trying to break into the American market. It’ll be nice to reach out through some of the connections we’ve made to make sure we’re doing it right.
What was the value of relationship-building during the program?
Our mentor, Nick, was fantastic in helping to set up connections. When you’re referred to insurance brokers, bankers or people in NRC-IRAP, that trust is already there. Additionally, we’ve been working with another company that was in VAP with us, The Rogerie. We’re introducing a line of fish-bonkers, and they’re printing them all for us. We’re also working with them to create prototypes for a plastic line we want to introduce alongside our yellow cedar. That turned out to be a great connection.
What is the biggest challenge BestLure is facing now?
How can we streamline everything to speed up production and lower our costs? How do we improve our marketing? We have around $100,000 in product ready to go, but we need to get it out to the people. We have orders coming in every day now from across North America, which is a jump up from where we were, but we want to keep building that. We had secured a deal with Canadian Tire before COVID-19. Now, provinces are starting to open up again, so we could get cleaned out pretty quickly.
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