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 SnapChing’s CEO, Richard Reukema, to find out how the 6-month program has helped to shape his business.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in SnapChing since joining the Venture Acceleration Program?
I’m always coming up with crazy ideas but, I’ve never really succeeded at any of them. That’s why I was attracted to VAP. From what I originally presented to what it is today, the business is unrecognizable. I wanted consumers and merchants to use a payment program where the consumer would push a payment to the merchant. Now, SnapChing is an online platform where shoppers save money and merchants can access data on customer satisfaction. It’s a big change, but it also doesn’t confuse clients.
What really helped to shape your business during the program?
I had a bit of an epiphany two months into the program. It wasn’t about creating a complete business model, I should be able to explain a value proposition in less than 5 minutes. If you’re a really good entrepreneur, you’ve thought of a service that hits a major pain point that can be explained in only a few minutes.
As a founder, what was one of the most important takeaways from the last 6 months?
Keep it simple, stupid. Coming into the program, I didn’t have a pitch where people could really be sold on my idea quickly. A good salesman makes people feel the pain point in an industry or service so thoroughly that people want to open their wallets to solve it. But, to make a business idea sound simple, it can take a long time and a lot of customer discovery.
Which aspect of the Venture Acceleration Program did you find the most valuable?
The value I found was the mentors who focused on my business model and said: “hey, this doesn’t make sense.” That was the nectar. To find likeminded people that can help me define a business model was the golden ticket. Accelerate Okanagan’s workshops and expert days were the unique value proposition of VAP, it’s a community of individuals who are successful at being entrepreneurs.
What would you say to other founders who are thinking of joining a mentorship program?
You’re there to learn, not to demonstrate or show off. Be humble. There’s nothing here that you’re going to say that’s new. Like they say: if you think you have no competition, you haven’t looked hard enough. If you’re prepared to learn, you’re going to get a lot out of the program. The mentors are trying to give you the knowledge so they can bring you to their level of understanding.
What is your biggest challenge now?
Outside of businesses being closed due to COVID-19? The awareness of how much people’s data is worth, and how much an individual disperses that data every day when you use your credit card online or sign up for a loyalty program. An average Canadian will join nine loyalty programs. SnapChing allows the customer to interact with the merchant but never give their data away to the merchant, it’s the broker that sits between that engagement.
Interested in learning more about VAP? Check out our programs page or connect with Brittany.
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