KAST - why you should join a Venture Accelerator Program

6 Reasons to Participate in an Accelerator Program to Launch or Advance your Startup

KAST - why you should join a Venture Accelerator Program

When you plan your travels, a map helps guide your route to a successful and enjoyable trip. Likewise, a Venture Accelerator Program will help guide your way along the best route to success.

You’ve got a great new idea for a product or service. You may have even initiated the process of developing a business. Chances are, in these early stages, you could use some helpful advice, direction and maybe even a little funding. That’s where an accelerator program comes in. If offers the resources and expertise of someone who’s successfully traveled the path to help you get all three.

If you need a little nudge about participating, here are six good reasons why you should consider joining an accelerator:

1. Comprehensive support

As you may already know, developing, launching, and operating a startup can be a challenging and often lonely business. That’s where an accelerator program can help. When you work within an accelerator, you receive valuable support from experienced mentors or Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIR). In addition to the direction, experience, and knowledge, they’re also there for emotional support.

2. Accelerated knowledge

Providing a ton of information based on the years of experience and skills that each mentor, or EIR, has amassed is what makes an accelerator program what it is. Access to this concentrated amount of information allows you to make your way through the various steps far more quickly and efficiently than trying to go it alone.

Accelerator programs offer you the opportunity to leverage the years of accumulated wisdom and experience available, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. As a result, you are better positioned to develop and launch your startup in a more calculated, strategic way, improving your chances of success.

3. Skills development

Focus on teaching the skills essential to launching and running a business, including sales and marketing, customer discovery, communications, finance, and sometimes even technical skills provide the foundation of an accelerator program.

Accelerators can also help you share your skills with other startup founders in the program, providing a great testing ground for disseminating your skills later on to your own team.

4. Risk management

Front of mind for any startup founder is, more often than not, the risk of failure. It can seem as though there is risk in everything you take on. This includes the market you’ve targeted, your product, and the concept you’re presenting.

The success of a startup depends on how the various functions – product development, pricing, technology, operations, customer service, marketing, finance, and HR management – have been performed. How each of these components is addressed has a direct impact on the success or failure of the enterprise.

An accelerator can identify the risks within your concept and help you work on minimizing them. Also, those within the program can provide you with the direction in proactively taking on risk and managing it effectively.

5. A bigger-picture, long-term view

As a founder, particularly if you’re jumping into startup waters for the first time, it can seem impossible to see beyond the first six months or year. However, in order to ensure your chances for success, it’s critical to work toward a much longer view and outcome. Accelerators help you see the entire forest in addition to the individual trees.

An accelerator program EIR can help you anticipate complexities or roadblocks and help you to navigate them more effectively. They can ask the questions that get you thinking bigger picture. They’ll also suggest the tools, strategies, and tactics to help get you there.

6. Motivation and morale

There is a spirit of collaboration in the accelerator program experience and it adds motivation and inspiration with each step.  Your EIR or mentor has been there, both in their own business as well as coaching other startups, and they serve as a powerful motivating force.

Doubts and challenges are part and parcel of the startup process, and when you connect with other accelerator participants, hearing about their self-doubts and challenges, it can be highly inspiring and motivational.

Interested in how an accelerator program can help launch or advance your startup? Check out the BC Venture Accelerator Program HERE!


resources for women entrepreneurs in British Columbia

Resources for Women Entrepreneurs

resources for women entrepreneurs in British Columbia

As tech explodes in the province and the number of startups grows, it’s clear that there’s never been a better time to be a woman starting a business in British Columbia!  With #BCTECH Summit 2018 on the horizon and women in tech & innovation owning a higher profile than ever before in a sector dominated primarily by men, women are making an impact on business across sectors.

It’s a great time for women entrepreneurs in BC – funding & program opportunities, support, resources!

Check this out:  From 2011 to 2016, the growth in self-employment among men in British Columbia was marginal, at only 0.9 per cent; however, the number of self-employed women in the province climbed 6.6 per cent. The increase was particularly evident among women over 55 years of age. In fact, the number of self-employed women aged 55 to 64 jumped 12.0 per cent over the five-year period, while those aged 65 and over surged 88.1 per cent.

KAST is proud of the support and programs we provide all entrepreneurs and if you’re a woman considering a startup idea or are in the initial stages of starting a business, we are sure to have a program for you!.

Take a look at our Startup Basics where we provide targeted skills coaching and action plans to those in the early stages who have an idea or are considering building a company. Startup Basics fills a gap in the entrepreneurial ecosystem bringing skill progression and light-touch mentorship to help early stage entrepreneurs structure and curate their ideas.

If you’re already showing revenue growth and investment potential, KAST delivers the RevUp program where emerging and growing companies creating a new technology product receive hands-on assistance from a team of experienced Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs) and “been there, done that” technology and business professionals.

Early‐stage technology entrepreneurs can also look to the BC Venture Acceleration Program, a structured venture growth program designed to guide, coach and grow ambitious early‐stage technology entrepreneurs and effectively grow their technology ventures.

If you’re looking to take charge of the technology required to develop your idea or grow your business, Ladies Learning Code provides vital programming & development education in everything from introductory HTML & CSS, to WordPress, Python, Ruby, Responsive Design, Photoshop and more.

Looking for more?  Here are some other of the more prominent groups and organizations in the province specific to women in business:

Forum for Women Entrepreneurs
Women’s Enterprise Centre
Mom CEO Academy
Young Women in Business
Minerva Foundation
Small Business BC
Entrepreneur Mom Now Vancouver 
Comox Valley Women’s Business Network 
Ladies Who Launch British Columbia
Valley Women’s Network  
Oceanside Women’s Business Network  
Kelowna Women in Business 





















#nvbc2017 Round 2.5 – placing 17-43

KAST VAP Client Cyberdontics Advancing #nvbc2017

#nvbc2017 Round 2.5 – placing 17-43The results are in for those companies moving on to the next round of the #nvbc2017 competition! The esteemed panel of judges have evaluated the Round 2 submissions.

While there were a few ties, there are 16 ventures moving directly into Round 3, and 27 ventures pitching in Round 2.5.  KAST VAP client, Cyberdontics, was one of them!

Rose Hoeher: Nominated for Outstanding Women in the Kootenays

Anyone who knows our Innopreneur Director, Rose Hoeher, won’t be surprised at all to hear about her recent nomination for the 6th annual Influential Women in Business Awards.  And while those of us who work with Rose are aware of how much she brings to her work and that of regional entrepreneurs we’re so pleased to bring greater attention to all she does.

A successful serial entrepreneur and oh-so-effective at coordinating KAST’s coaching services for entrepreneurs she contributes whole-heartedly to the successes of not only the clients of the Venture Acceleration Program but to the variety of pies she has fingers in, such as the growing Tech Meetups throughout the region.

Bucking the trend in the male-dominated fashion industry, she and a female business partner launched their own successful modelling agency in Toronto. Later she went on to open a giftware importing business from the Philippines. As human resources manager at the early stage internet technology company Simply Audiobooks Inc., Rose was part of a fast paced, dynamic tech company.

We are proud of her accomplishments and are so very happy to see her recognized on a larger scale with this esteemed nomination.

You’ve got our vote – good luck, Rose!

HERE Partner HR Expert Blaise Enright

With more than 25 years of experience working in Human Resources (HR), it is such privilege to include such an accomplished professional as Blaise Enright.

With more than her share of big city experience, having worked in Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver, she succumbed to the lure of the Kootenays ten years ago and has been providing her unique and extensive brand of expertise to a variety of regional businesses and organizations.

Impressed with KAST’s vision for the economic development of the Kootenay communities and the very high level of support provided to Venture Accelerator Program (VAP) clients to grow their ideas and business ventures, Blaise knew this was a program she wanted to be a part of.
“I want to be a part of this exciting venture and of bringing this vision to its ultimate fruition.”

Specializing in HR policy and program development, coaching and training, conflict resolution, labour relations and human rights in the workplace, Blaise is committed to developing internal HR skills to ensure people-related business practices and processes are optimally aligned with changing business needs.
She’s also passionate about organizations keeping up-to-date and in compliance with evolving mandatory regulations pertaining to human resources management.

As an HR consultant in the HERE/VAP programs, Blaise finds that most clients are wanting to better understand how to develop comprehensive and formal Human Resources policies and procedures.
“Many HR policies are legislated and regulated by the Provincial or Federal governments – such as bullying and harassment policy and procedures, protection of personal information policy and procedures, and others.”

“General audits by governmental agencies, or audits as a result of employee complaints, eventually reveal these gaps, however, the majority of Employers recognize that it is prudent and beneficial to have these policies in place to prevent and mitigate issues and complaints and to ensure successful audits.”
Ms. Enright finds that the businesses looking for HR consultation are those without formal HR office or in-house functional responsibility. Smaller businesses who may not be at a point where they can afford an HR staff member.
However, given the general and legal responsibilities of employers relating to their employees, and the desire of employers to develop and maintain a high functioning workplace with productive and satisfied staff members, experienced assistance with the HR function is often necessary to ensure the best outcomes.

Blaise understands that knowing how, who and when to hire, and how to retain your best talent, is key to the success of any business. Staff turnover and low morale always result in stress at the workplace and at home, additional workload, as well as unanticipated financial and social costs.

“It’s been said before – people are your most valuable asset – never underestimate the value your Employees bring to your business – while at work and in the communities where they live.”

Diversity is recognized as an important element of high functioning workplaces.
“Gender, culture, generation and skills diversity are “must haves” in highly successful organizations. Along with that, are leaders who understand how to manage diversity; how to provide a respectful and collaborative workplace; how to hire and retain highly motivated talent.”

Many companies are shifting to hiring more freelancers and contractors to tap into a growing talent market, while at the same time providing career building opportunities in-house.
“My consulting experience thus far in the Kootenays has drawn attention to the fact that the day to day operations of small business organizations appear to be in great shape but that it is difficult for employers to find enough time in the day to engage in strategic planning for workforce development. “
Having help to develop HR policies and procedures to assist with recruitment and retention, and to mitigate and resolve future workplace issues, allows managers and employees to contribute at their highest levels to the success of the organization.


Former VAP Client Kaj Gyr – Slopedeck

Handmade in Nelson, BC the Slopedeck is another great innovation from inventor, Kaj Gyr, a former client of the KAST VAP program.

For urban riding or backyard fun the Slopedeck is the tool of choice.  Quick turning, intuitive, lightweight — with solid carving in almost any snow condition — you’ll discover what feels like the winter equivalent of surfing or skateboarding.​

Check out the video below to see how versatile this piece of equipment is.

SLOPEDECK Snowskate from Slopedeck on Vimeo.