GROWING YOUR BUSINESS WITH FTAs PRESENTATION & NETWORKING EVENT

Growing Your Business with FTAs Presentation and Networking Event

GROWING YOUR BUSINESS WITH FTAs PRESENTATION & NETWORKING EVENT

Attend this valuable and FREE FTAs Presentation and Networking Event to learn how to boost your export opportunities. Presented by Export Navigator.

Targeting Free Trade

Seize this unique opportunity to learn about the tremendous value of free trade agreements (FTAs) for Kootenay’s active and aspiring exporters. You’ll meet Provincial representatives who negotiate BC’s interests in these agreements and who also assist businesses in overcoming tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.

Presenter: Chelsie Luciani, Senior Manager, Trade Policy & Negotiations, Ministry of Jobs, Trade, and Technology.

Export Navigator – Free Export Assistance and Coaching

Exporting allows you to expand the horizons of your business and gain a competitive advantage. Whether it’s new markets across Canada or around the world, Export Navigator’s community-based advisors are on-hand to provide FREE support to help your business grow outside of the Kootenays. Capitalize on export knowledge and resources and invaluable connections made available by this program and its advisors.

Presenter: Michael Hoher, Export Advisor, Export Navigator, Kootenay-Boundary Region

Three Convenient Kootenay Locations

Cranbrook: June 18, 2019, 12:15 – 1:30pm. Ground Floor Coworking Space, Community Futures, 131 7th Ave S, Cranbrook, BC.

Nelson: June 19, 2019, 12:00 – 1:00pm. Nelson Chamber of Commerce Boardroom, 91 Baker St, Nelson, BC.

Trail: June 19, 2019, 9:00 – 10:30am. Community Futures Trail Boardroom, 825 Spokane St, Trail, BC.

The Export Navigator Program

The Export Navigator Program offers businesses access to community-based export specialists who can provide a personalized, step-by-step approach to exporting and help connect your business to the market information, export programs, financial services, and business development experts it needs at every stage of the process.

Learn more about how Export Navigator can help your business at www.exportnavigator.ca.

 

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!

BC PNP TECH PILOT KAST

BC Provincial Nominee Program Tech Pilot

BC PNP TECH PILOT KAST

Are you an employer looking to fill positions for engineers, IT professionals, or industry-related technicians?

The Government of BC is running a pilot program to fast-track the hiring of skilled immigrants for these positions.

The B.C. technology sector is a major driver of economic growth in the province, with tech employment at its highest level ever recorded. The demand for talent in B.C.’s tech sector is increasing faster than the supply.

The priorities for the Ministry of Jobs, Trade, and Technology include establishing B.C. as a preferred location for new and emerging technologies, increasing the growth of domestic B.C. tech companies, and removing barriers to attracting skilled workers.

B.C. is developing the highest quality local talent by introducing students to tech earlier, adjusting training and education in post-secondary institutions and creating work experience opportunities.

Beyond using the skills and talent of B.C. workers, companies need to be able to attract skilled workers from around the world. Tech entrepreneurs and skilled workers from other leading-edge countries can help grow B.C.’s technology sector, leading to more jobs for British Columbians.

In support of these priorities, a pilot under the BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) works to ensure the technology sector can attract and retain the talent it needs to be sustained and to grow the sector further.

The BC PNP Tech Pilot helps employers to address their talent needs by providing a fast-tracked, permanent immigration pathway for in-demand foreign workers and international students.

Click HERE for more information.

BC PNP Tech Pilot Features

The BC PNP Tech Pilot key features are based on service, timeliness, prioritization, and engagement in response to the needs of the industry:

  • Service: A dedicated BC PNP concierge for tech employers provides tailored information and navigation assistance of immigration programs and processes.
  • Timeliness: Weekly invitations to apply are issued to qualified skilled tech workers, minimizing the wait for employers and their prospective employees.
  • Prioritization: Tech applications are prioritized during processing to meet the sector’s fast-paced demands.
  • Engagement: Continuous support to tech sector employers through proactive engagement activities and participation at key industry events.

Updates and enhancements to the BC PNP Tech Pilot

BC PNP Tech Pilot extended to June 2019

The BC PNP Tech Pilot has been extended for another year to provide employers with a degree of stability that will allow them to plan for their future staffing needs.

Click HERE for more information.

Updates to eligible Tech Pilot occupations

We have also updated the list of eligible occupations for the Tech Pilot to focus on the 29 tech occupations that have been demonstrated to be in high demand by the tech sector so that we can maintain the speed of service.

Labour market research conducted by the BC Tech Association and the Vancouver Economic Commission identified access to talent as the biggest issue facing the tech sector, posing the most significant barrier to economic growth.

The research identified 32 in-demand tech occupations, and eligibility for the BC PNP Tech Pilot was originally based on these 32 tech occupations. Based on actual demand from tech sector employers in the pilot’s first year, the pilot will continue with 29 of these occupations eligible under the pilot.

This change allows the program to focus resources on prioritizing those tech occupations demonstrated to be in high demand within the tech sector to maintain the speed of processing and high level of service to tech employers.

The complete list of the 29 in-demand tech occupations can be downloaded HERE.

Technology companies hiring for occupations that are not eligible for the BC PNP Tech Pilot are still able to connect with the concierge service regarding their specific needs.

Tech Pilot enhancements to include one-year job offers

The BC PNP Tech Pilot is also being enhanced by reducing the eligibility requirement for a permanent full-time job offer, to a one-year full-time job offer.

As of June 26, 2018, individuals who apply under a Skills Immigration category in an eligible tech occupation must have a job offer of at least one year (365 days) in length. The job offer must have at least 120 days remaining at the time of application to the BC PNP.

Longer duration job offers, including indeterminate job offers, will continue to be eligible.

Click HERE for more information.

KAST Innovate BC Tech Coop Grant

Tech Co-op Grant

KAST Innovate BC Tech Coop Grant

Get up to $10,800 per year in funding to hire co-op students through the Tech Co-op Grant.

Need talent? Whether you’re a technology-based company looking to grow or a non-tech business looking to grow your innovation footprint, our program could be right for you. 

Each employer is eligible to receive a maximum of four grants each per fiscal year valued at $2,700 (a total value of $10,800), to recruit and train between one to four distinct co-op students. The employer must pay the remainder of the student’s salary during the co-op term.

Program Eligibility

  • Be a BC-based business.
  • Have less than 100 employees on the payroll.
  • Be a tech company hiring for any role.
  • Be a non-tech company, organization or non-profit hiring for a tech role (A tech role is defined as a role primarily related to developing tech or providing tech support).
  • Be hiring a student for a co-op work term. If you’ve hired a student for a co-op work term in the last 5 years, then you must hire a first-time co-op student.

Steps to apply

  1. Understand the Program Guidelines.
  2. Define the role and create a job posting.
  3. Contact an accredited co-op department in BC to have the job approved and posted.
  4. Submit your application
KAST Startup Basics

Entrepreneurs: Great Programs to Help You Achieve Your Business Goals in 2019

KAST Startup Basics

Startups and entrepreneurs are making big gains throughout the Kootenays. If you have a business or idea, here are some valuable programs to help you get the support you need to join them!

If you’ve got a new business or a great idea you’re working to bring to market from here in the Kootenays there is a lot of support out there to help you make it happen!

We believe that entrepreneurs create significant community and economic benefit, and programs such as these are fundamental to helping pave the road to growth and success.

Startup Basics offers targeted skills coaching and individualized action plans developed by experienced Executives-in-Residence and supported by industry experts.

If you are an early-stage entrepreneur and need to learn more about business and startup fundamentals you may be a great fit for the Startup Basics Program.

Entrepreneurship can seem a daunting road for those new to the journey. The Startup Basics Program helps minimize the fear by providing the tools to get started, get validated, and get to market.

This program brings skill progression and light-touch mentorship to help early-stage entrepreneurs structure and curate their ideas. All startups and growth stage companies start at the idea stage and nurturing in this phase of the process is an essential service in a productive ecosystem.

This program will serve you best if you’re already in the early stages of your business, armed with an idea or are seriously considering how you’re going to build your company.

BC Venture Acceleration Program helps entrepreneurs accelerate their growth.

The BC Venture Acceleration Program is a paid, structured venture growth program designed to guide, coach, and grow ambitious early-stage technology entrepreneurs, effectively growing their technology ventures.

The program helps entrepreneurs accelerate the process of defining a proven business model based on a set methodology and set of best practices for growing technology companies. It is delivered by a team of Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs) and supported by a province-wide network of partners and entrepreneurs.

The goal is to drive economic development and job creation in the province of BC by accelerating the commercialization of technology, resulting in the rapid growth of technology ventures.

Is your company already showing some revenue and investment potential? The RevUp program may be for you!

The RevUp program allows founders and CEOs, as well as their management teams, receive hands-on assistance from a team of experienced Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs), “been there, done it” technology and business professionals.

The ideal RevUp clients is a company that is 1. growing; and 2. creating a new technology product in sectors such as Clean technology, Agricultural technology, Life Sciences, Information & Communications (software) or Advanced Manufacturing.

KAST delivers the RevUp program with support from the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) and Accelerate Okanagan. KAST is a member of the BC Acceleration Network (BCAN) of 12 technology accelerators, from which we can pull EIR expertise to meet your growing company’s specific needs.

Entrepreneurs in Residence EIRs are experienced and knowledgeable professionals. Businesses in the program are assigned a team of EIRs who become their primary advisor and coach. EIRs can source the specific talent sets your company needs via a combination of supplementary EIRs, subsidized consulting talent and subsidized targeted staffing.

KAST Kootenay tech sector

Technology & Innovation in the Koots: Full STEAM Ahead!

KAST Kootenay tech sector

The Koots tech sector is drawing talent, inspiring entrepreneurs, and providing a welcome home for anyone looking to bring their idea, product, or service to market.

2018 has been a great year for the evolution of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) throughout the Kootenay region as well as the province of British Columbia as a whole.

Since the KPMG British Columbia Technology Report Card in 2016, where it was reported that B.C.’s tech sector is growing faster than not only those in the rest of Canada but also our American neighbours, the sector is still growing, full steam ahead!

The impact of the BC Tech Sector cannot be denied:

  • it comprises over 9500 companies spanning a number of industries: Interactive and Digital Media (IDM), Cleantech, Lifesciences, Information & Communication Technology (ICT) as well as IT & Engineering services;
  • it generates over $15 billion dollars per year;
  • more than 90,000 jobs are created for British Columbians in the tech sector alone.

A marker of BC’s leadership in tech and innovation was federal funding awarded to the British Columbia-led Digital Technology Supercluster in the Government of Canada’s Innovation Supercluster Initiative. The initiative is estimated to create 50,000 jobs and inject $15 billion in GDP into BC’s economy over the next 10 years.

The West Kootenay specifically is, more and more, becoming a destination for tech and knowledge workers from around the country.

Initiatives such as Imagine Kootenay, promoting our much-coveted lifestyle and the growing number of opportunities available; and the exciting regional branding effort, Metal Tech Alley, developing multi-lateral, multi-dimensional partnerships to help clear the path for startups and businesses to succeed are welcome developments.

The Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies (MIDAS) Fabrication Lab has become something of a crown jewel in the region when it comes to entrepreneur support and training in fabrication, manufacturing, and rapid prototyping. MIDAS allows for students, entrepreneurs, startups and businesses to access an MIT-certified digital fabrication laboratory, or “Fab Lab, which includes almost $450,000 in state-of-art equipment as well as valuable expertise and training to help bring innovative ideas to life.

Here at KAST, working with valued partners, have strived for the past 20 years to provide the resources and support to continue to encourage entrepreneurs to grow their startup and business ideas to reach their goals. Confirming to anyone curious about the potential of the region, that the infrastructure and support are in place for STEAM to grow and develop here.

Selkirk College with campuses in Castlegar, Trail, and Nelson, is steadfast in their commitment to supporting and promoting technology & innovation throughout the region through their programming. Their Environment & Geomatics program is making news for significantly contributing to the career success of students.  They have developed an effective combination of classroom education, outdoor learning and real-world, hands-on, experience.

The college’s new Digital Arts and New Media program offers students a solid foundation in traditional and graphic arts, web site development, video and sound production, animation and digital media. It’s an innovative program designed to meet increased demand for skills in advanced production techniques, effective project management and the new media business environment.

Examples of other regional organizations and businesses shaking up West Kootenay innovation include:

  • SMRT1 – founded by MIDAS Fab Lab Director, Brad Pommen, is shaking up conventional vending. Smrt1 is a Nelson-based company specializing in solutions that are a fusion of 3D interactive learning, social marketing and instant product sales.
  • i4C Innovation Centre – a fundamental link between IIoT industry gaps and rapid commercialization of metals related products who will be concentrating on advanced acceleration and mid-level manufacturing of microelectronics for IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) products.
  • Advanced BioCarbon 3D – awarded the 2018 BC Innovation BC Ignite Award of $300,000, developing a new type of 3D-printing filament from 100% biodegradable, engineering grade plastics and carbon fibre derived from lignin, which are the natural glue-like fibres found inside of wood.
  • I/O Design & Engineering – design machinery and components for heavy industry; excelling at solving problems and developing cost-effective engineered solutions. Services include designing automated equipment to troubleshooting and redesigning existing mechanical equipment.

#madeatMIDAS #metaltechalley