KAST - tips to launch your startup

5 Important Tasks as You Prepare to Launch Your Startup

KAST - launch your startup

As you consider taking your business idea/concept to an operating startup business, the to-do list is seemingly endless!

The list is loooo-ooong when it comes to things to do in the life of a fledgling startup. There are some priorities, however, to ensure that your valuable and limited time is most effectively being spent.

Tackle the following tasks first and you’ll not only crystallize your vision but lay the proper foundation for the work that has to follow.

Be VERY clear in your idea/concept and vision

This may sound ridiculously obvious but revisiting your idea, clarifying it, and defining exactly what you are and what you do is always a productive, not to mention illuminating, exercise.

Part of this step is identifying core values, which will help you clarify what’s important to your startup while also helping other founders or employees understand what is important to your idea and business. It helps to determine a clear direction in all steps that follow.

It’s vital that you are able to explain concisely and succinctly your idea and vision when asked and reviewing it amongst yourselves repeatedly helps refine what will inevitably be part of your pitch.

Here’s help:

What? Another short paragraph, identifying clearly ‘What We Are’. What does your startup do? Is it a product, or a service? What is pain point is it attempting to address? What market are you aiming for?

Who: Write down a short paragraph, identifying clearly ‘Who We Are’. For instance, why you? What precipitated the idea and startup journey? Who are you?

The pitch: Bring together the What and the Who to create your pitch – 30 seconds keeps things short and to the point! Getting this down ensures you can sell it at the drop of a hat, concisely and with confidence.

Catchphrase or Tagline: a simple phrase that encompasses the what and the who. This is meant to be only a line – short and sweet. If it’s catchy, and rolls off the tongue, all the better. This is your opportunity to highlight a key benefit of your idea or perhaps a key belief or value that is the foundation of your business.

It’s important to be honest – DO NOT  promise what you aren’t sure you can deliver.

Customer Discovery and Validation – Know Your Target Market!

It’s one thing to have a great idea and believe there’s a need in the marketplace your concept will address. It’s another to know that there’s a market for it. Who are you selling this to? You need to know your target market.

Here’s help:

You MUST do your research. Explore the marketplace: have you found similar products/services out there? Is there a lot of competition or not so much?

Note particular unique selling propositions, price ranges, and sales strategies. What do they offer?

Identify and narrow down your prospective users. Gather data: gender, age, location, job or career, income, situation, environment, retail habits, etc.

Develop Your Branding

With a solid understanding of the company vision and target market defined, brand development will help prospective audience and clients identify, reach, and want you.

Company branding will help you become more identifiable in the marketplace. Your brand has to relate to your vision and values. and will help you reach the audience you need to make your startup a success.

Here’s help:

Brainstorm and create a mood board to direct your design, keeping it focused on the goal as well as the audience.

Consider your tone and visual language.

Less is more! Keep it simple, clean, and carefully considered so it is easily identifiable. Make it unique! And make sure it helps to convey your message.

Set Goals

Setting goals is important in many facets of our lives, but when it comes to building a successful startup it’s particularly important. Rather than flying by the seat of your pants, goals provide the direction and objective for your startup, both short term and long term.

However… it’s all about baby steps! Keep your eye on the prize but your focus on achievements short-term. Look to set small, achievable golas that provide the small wins that keep things moving forward. It’s the “how do you eat an elephant…?” approach.

Take some time to consider a few important questions:

  • What is one of your startup’s annual goals?
  • What monthly deliverable will contribute towards this yearly goal?
  • What weekly deliverable will help you reach your monthly goals?
  • What daily completed task(s) will help you reach your weekly goals?

These small bites move the project forward, build momentum, and lead to an elephant consumed!

Here are a few examples of small, incremental goals that move your business towards the biggies:

  • Set up the Legal Entity of your business
  • Set up your business bank account
  • Set some sales targets, even if this means only the first sale!
  • Set up your website
  • Finish the first prototype of a project
  • Getting the first 100 subscribers to the app
  • Earn a mention on a blog, or website, or magazine
  • Create and expand a professional network
  • Hire key members of staff

No matter the goals, keep them realistic and attainable! Goals left unachieved are discouraging and can undermine morale.

Create a Business Plan

The idea, the values, the logo… it’s all important. But it’s a proper, thoughtfully developed business plan that can give you a significant advantage.

KAST launch your startup business plan

Of people who start companies with a completed business plan:

  • 36% obtained a loan.
  • 36% received investment capital.
  • 64% grew their business.

Of the people without a business plan:

  • 18% obtained a loan.
  • 18% received investment capital.
  • 43% grew their business.

A business plan is a written description of your company’s future. It’s the outline of what you want to do and how you’re planning to do it. Typically, business plans outline the first three to five years of your business strategy – how you’re going to make money!

Here’s help:

Begin with a Business Model Canvas (BMC). It provides the structure of a business plan without the overhead or the ad-hoc ‘back of the napkin’ sketch!

Popular with entrepreneurs it is a visual chart where you can identify and describe the value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances of your business. It offers:

  • Focus: Without the dozens of pages of a traditional business plan, users of a BMC improve their clarity and focus on what’s driving the business.
  • Flexibility: It’s a lot easier to tweak the model and try things as it’s all on a single page.
  • Transparency: You and your team will have a much easier time understanding your business model and be much more likely to buy into your vision when it’s laid out on a single page.

Have a great idea or the beginnings of a startup? Looking for valuable tools and resources to help you along your entrepreneurial journey? Talk to us!

DEER HORN SIGNS STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT WITH FENIX ADVANCED MATERIALS

Deer Horn Signs Strategic Partnership Agreement with Fenix Advanced Materials

DEER HORN SIGNS STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT WITH FENIX ADVANCED MATERIALS

Deer Horn Capital Inc. has signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Trail, BC’s Fenix Advanced Materials (Fenix) for potential future tellurium extraction and purification and other synergies to achieve a vertically integrated enterprise for cleantech metals.

Fenix Advanced Materials is a clean technology company specializing in the manufacture of ultra-high purity (UHP) metals. The company sells a variety of UHP metals for use in solar energy, telecommunications and infrared applications for commercial and military use. Fenix is one of the very few companies in the world achieving “six nines” (99.9999%) and even “seven nines” (99.99999%) purity in its metal products.

“Tellurium is extremely important to our vision and strategy going forward,” said Fenix CEO, and KAST Entrepreneur In Residence, Don Freschi. “We see a significant increase in tellurium demand long-term, which is why we’re partnering with a number of universities and organizations for research, extraction and processing for technologies in our pipeline that require ultra-high purity tellurium and other critical metals. The Deer Horn gold-silver-tellurium property, along with the Deer Horn’s technical team, offers us a strategic potential domestic supplier of tellurium located within the same province.”

Current strategic partners with Fenix include Teck Metals, The University of British Columbia and Redlen Technologies of Victoria, BC. The company anticipates international partnerships in education, research, mining, and critical metals processing in the coming year.

Said Deer Horn President and CEO Tyrone Docherty, “The Fenix partnership represents a key piece of the foundation we’re building for an integrated, critical metals enterprise. We’re thrilled to join the roster of exceptional strategic partners Fenix has assembled to make this happen, and we look forward to engaging with them. Going forward, we expect to announce other partnerships as part of our long-term vision and strategy to supply critical metals for clean technology and a low-carbon economy.”

“I think the world is beginning to recognize the importance of stable and domestic supplies of critical metals, especially the very rare metals like tellurium,” said Docherty. “We are preparing to help meet that need.”

To read Deer Horn Capital’s full press release click here.

Columbia Basin Trust Sustainable Energy Grants

Basin Community Buildings Get Fresh Energy – Sustainably!

Columbia Basin Buildings Get Energized - Sustainably

Renewable energy upgrades in 16 Columbia Basin community buildings will generate energy, increase energy efficiency and sustainability, and reduce energy costs.

These sustainability projects are being realized with over $650,000 in support from Columbia Basin Trust’s Energy Sustainability Grants.

The buildings range from community halls to aquatic centres, and activities vary from installing solar panels to adding heat pumps. Projects may also include improvements like adding insulation and replacing furnaces and lighting to help the benefits from the projects go further.

“People regularly use and appreciate these buildings, and many have told us they want to explore ways to use energy efficiently and sustainably, which is why we’ve made renewable and alternative energy one of our strategic priorities,” said Mark Brunton, Columbia Basin Trust Senior Manager, Delivery of Benefits. “Through these grants, these important community assets will now be equipped to generate and conserve energy, while moving into the future as inviting, comfortable spaces.”

The community of ʔaq̓am is one of the recipients. It will be adding solar panels to its new health and wellness facility, which is just starting construction.

“The community has been putting a focus on sustainable energy usage, and we realize that sustainable high-quality buildings are essential for a healthy community and ecosystem,” said Nasuʔkin Joe Pierre. “This building is a great opportunity to implement the technology, with results to be considered during future ʔaq̓am projects and shared with other interested communities.”

The Burton Community Association will be adding solar panels to its community hall, reducing power usage by switching to LED lights and adding a Level 2 electric vehicle charging station.

“Having solar power at the community hall will cut our electricity bill, plus be an opportunity for locals to see the benefits of solar and how it works,” said Board member Barbara Ross. “Adding the electric vehicle charging stations will encourage community uptake on electric vehicles and enable travelers with electric vehicles to come to the area and explore our community.”

This is one of the ways the Columbia Basin Trust is helping communities conserve energy and generate renewable and alternative energy. The Trust has supported an electric vehicle charging network across the Basin, and the Trust has helped improve energy efficiency and sustainability in 935 units in 47 affordable housing buildings in the Basin.

Clean Energy BC Powering Generations: Legacy to the Future Conference 2019

Clean Energy BC Conference – Powering Generations: Legacy to the Future 2019

Clean Energy BC Powering Generations: Legacy to the Future Conference 2019

The Clean Energy BC Powering Generations: Legacy to the Future, June 4th-6th, 2019, showcases Trail and the Kootenays’ legacy of engineering excellence and how this impacts innovation in the region’s tech sector.

Powering Generations: Legacy to the Future is a three-day conference provides a networking opportunity to connect clean energy industry professionals, community leaders, First Nations, and technology innovators; providing a platform for urban-rural knowledge sharing.

Attendees will engage in dialogue that encourages economic diversification through clean energy projects and pushing the tech frontier, recognizing the Kootenays as a thriving hub.

Who Should Attend Clean Energy BC Powering Generations?

Clean energy industry professional
Community shaper
Clean tech enthusiast
Policy designer
First Nations leader
Young professional aspiring to join the industry

Powering Generations is the ideal setting for you to collaborate, network, and share your knowledge with others!

KAST board member Jason Taylor, a specialist in digital fabrication, rapid prototyping and advanced manufacturing and an Instructor and Researcher at Selkirk College, will be speaking at Powering Generations 2019.

Jason was fundamental in the development and implementation of the MIDAS Fab Lab and will be speaking at Plenary 3 — Building the Clean Economy: Job Opportunities with CleanBC.

Join Jason at Powering Generations and register today! REGISTER NOW!

Who is Clean Energy BC?

Clean Energy BC (CEBC) is an industry association that has been the voice of BC’s clean energy industry for over 25 years. CEBC supports BC’s transition to low-carbon energy through the development of effective climate policy and clean energy electrification.

The purpose of our association is to:

    • Promote and support the growth of BC’s clean energy industry
    • Assist the growth of manufacturing, supply, and service industries in BC, serving clean energy production in the province and around the world
    • Build strong relationships with all levels of government, BC Hydro, First Nations, environmental organizations and the public to improve the sector’s social license
    • Ensure the business and regulatory climate is reasonable and efficient for operating assets
    • Improve the regulatory and economic environments for clean energy production in BC
    • Work with environmental organizations to develop science-based clean energy development models

Interested in learning more? Visit Clean Energy BC Powering Generations: Legacy to the Future.

Public Spaces Add State-of-the-Art Technology

Public Spaces Add State-of-the-Art Technology

Several public spaces throughout the Basin will enjoy becoming more high-tech with support from Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Technology Program.

Access to state-of-the-art technology can spark opportunities to learn, connect and bring creative ideas to life. Nine communities in the Columbia Basin will soon have new digital equipment, software and other technologies that people can use for free to enhance their digital literacy and get creative. These purchases are being made with support of over $613,000 from Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Technology Program.

“In this digital world, technological resources are important, but obtaining them individually can be beyond the means of many,” said Aimee Ambrosone, Director, Delivery of Benefits, at Columbia Basin Trust. “By installing sophisticated equipment like this in public facilities and offering digital literacy programming, people of all ages and abilities will be able to use and benefit from these tech-enabled spaces.”

The two-year, $1.5-million program provides grants to registered non-profit organizations, First Nations and local governments that operate public spaces like libraries and community centres. The grants support the purchase of equipment like 3-D printers, robotics kits, recording studio equipment and computers with specialized software. If required, the organizations may also renovate their spaces and buy furniture to create suitable venues for the equipment. Programs such as classes and workshops that train people how to use the equipment are also supported.

Here are a few of the recipients:

The Fernie Heritage Library will be creating a technology hub with three main components: a digitization station that will enable people to convert old formats (for example VHS tapes) into digital forms, an editing and creation station with computers and software, and a makerspace with equipment like a 3-D printer and laser cutter.

“The technology hub will be a place for the community to use technology to make new things,” said Director Emma Dressler. “It will be a place of innovation and inspiration, where people can interact with their environment in new ways, learn new skills and come together in new ways.”

The Okanagan Regional Library’s Golden branch will be adding a range of items that will help citizens of all skill levels do sound recordings, digitize older formats (such as slides, vinyl or tape), create and modify video projects, and learn other digital skills.

“These skills are critical for citizens of all ages in the 21st century,” said Don Nettleton, Chief Executive Officer. “Having this equipment situated in the library allows all citizens, regardless of their socioeconomic status, the opportunity to participate, provided they have a curious mind and a valid library card.”

In the Village of Slocan, the Learning Centre (photo above) will expand its current offerings by adding a laser cutter and engraver, 3-D printers, robotics kits, a video-conferencing station, and software. This space is run by the W.E. Graham Community Service Society.

“Through improved technology and programming, we hope to support our community members in enhancing their technology-related skills and ultimately quality of life,” said Learning Centre Manager Heather Clouston. “This will build skills and engage people in the community in new ways.”

The Community Technology Program has a two-stage application process. The next expression of interest deadline is May 6, 2019. Selected organizations will work with a program advisor to develop their project concept and write an application. Learn more at ourtrust.org/communitytech.

Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGame

Selkirk College GLOWS RobotGames 2019!

Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGame

A robot competition like no other. Youth from throughout the region will build, program and deck out their robots to enter into RobotGames – a fun and free-spirited event full of prizes.

RobotGames will take place Saturday, April 13 at the Tenth Street Campus in the Mary Hall Building. Everyone is welcome to attend! The Mary Hall Cafeteria will be open throughout the day or you can choose to bring a lunch!

Registration is FREE!

Imagination meets Technology

RobotGames is open to all youth ages 6 to 18 living in the West Kootenay/ Boundary region. No prior experience is necessary. Youth in teams of one to two people will prepare their robot for the ultimate competition event. Prizes include an iPod touch for the Balloon Popping Royal Rumble which everyone is invited to join. Other prizes will be handed out too!

Check out last year’s event:

The Big Day! What to Expect?!

Schedule:

  • 9 am Registration
  • 10 am Events begin
  • 2:30 pm iPod Touch Balloon Popping Royal Rumble
  • 2:45 pm Awards and Photos

Events:

  1. Line following – This event utilizes the obstacle course, except you must follow the line from end to end. There may be crossed or intersected lines, as well as obstacles to create havoc. Speed and accuracy will be highly praised. The line will be about the thickness of the electrical tape. Your mBot kit comes with a simple foldout example for line following.
  2. Obstacle course – Your robot will need to maneuver the obstacle course as quickly and carefully as possible. Navigate walls and obstacles to reach the end of the maze.
  3. Robot battles – Two robots enter the open arena to compete as gladiators in the ultimate destruction event. Matches are limited to two minutes and judges will announce a winner. The last robot to make a meaningful hit, overall match polarity and gamesmanship will be rewarded.
  4. Robot soccer: One on one – Grab the most robot soccer balls to your side in two minutes. In the center of the obstacle course is a pile for both teams to grab from. Each team has a 24″ line parallel to the back wall laying claim to your teams’ captured balls. Balls knocked out of the arena will cost you points. Balls can be stolen over and over. Robots may store the balls in some manner but must release them before the clock runs out or they will not be counted in the final score.
  5. Special tricks – Think of something cool and crazy for your robot to do. Dance, tell a joke, fetch an object… use your imagination! Program your robot to do your evil, or not so evil bidding. No dangerous weapons, water, open flames or lasers allowed. Be creative, be awesome!
  6. Balloon popping – Which robot will pop the balloon first?! Enter the ring prepared to burst the balloon before your competitor. Make sure your robot isn’t dangerous in the process. Your aim is to pop the balloon and not your competitor.

Judges will be looking for: 

  • each entry’s design and assembly
  • the programming and logic
  • the robot’s ability to problem-solve
  • the robot’s ability to adapt to challenging situations

Learn more about GLOWS at Selkirk College and follow GLOWS on Facebook. Questions about RobotGames? Please contact Matt Martin.