Peterborough’s FastStart initiative is rolling out a new Experts in Residence (EIR) program to help young entrepreneurs turn their great ideas into functioning businesses.
The program, loosely based on the Entrepreneurs in Residence programs in some of Ontario’s 17 Regional Innovation Centres, will initially operate as a four to five month pilot with a budget of $18,000.
“Four local business people, each with a proven track record of success in their areas of expertise, will be spending one to two hours a week with entrepreneurs whose ideas have reached a point where they can move to the next stage and develop viable businesses,” says Rosalea Terry, FastStart’s Entrepreneurship Coordinator at Trent University.
FastStart is aimed at entrepreneurs between 18 and 29 years old. FastStart is the youth entrepreneurship training partnership between Trent University, Fleming College and the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster.
The three-person Innovation Cluster staff, (Terry, Martin Yuill (CEO), and Carey McMaster (Programs Officer)) handpicked each of the four mentors, matching their skills and histories with selected young entrepreneurial FastStart clients.
Deanna Henry, 27, whose concept of a creative space and play program for grownups, Modern Alchemy, and winner of the Cubs Lair first place award in November 2015, was one of those chosen for the specialized help.
Henry has already had her first meeting with branding and social media expert Neil Morton, co-founder and publisher of PTBOCanada.com.
“He’s given me some great advice for my next steps and even more potential services that I can offer,” Henry says. Morton also will help her create an international brand from her original idea. “Now I’ll be able to streamline the business from a concept to something that can travel far and wide,” she adds.
“I am a new entrepreneur and it’s great to have the expertise and knowledge of someone who is already making a difference in our community.”
Henry and Morton plan to meet on a regular basis until her business is up and running.
The other experts in residence are:
- Michael Skinner, http://mascapital.ca, a serial entrepreneur, local angel investor and management consultant.
- Daryl Goodall, Part Time CFO, www.parttimecfoservices.ca, certified chartered accountant and certified management accountant.
- Albert Mastromartino, www.mastromartino.com, marketing professor in the School of Business at Fleming College, and renowned speaker, coach and corporate trainer.
How the Experts in Residence see their roles with the new FastStart program:
Michael Skinner: “The reality is that most of the time you don’t know what you don’t know. An experienced mentor can help forecast and overcome these challenges with you in order to save you time, as well as ensure your success.”
“No one ever said it was easy being an entrepreneur. Whether you’re in the early stages of your startup, just secured funding for your startup, or are ready for your product or service launch, it can be a very daunting task.”
Albert Mastromartino: “I love working with smart young people. The young entrepreneurs bring the product expertise and passion to the table and I bring a palate of strategic possibilities that will result in innovation building.”
“The key is to start with an analysis of their goals and resources and then do an external analysis of what’s going on in the business environment. Once you figure out the strategic component then the creative ideas can fall into place from there.”
Daryl Goodall: “I like doing this because they (young entrepreneurs) are youthful and bring energy. It`s that excitement. It`s scary but also exciting to start up a business.”
“I will help them to avoid stepping on landmines and sidestep anything detrimental to the business through lack of experience, using my own past mistakes as examples. One illustration is the tendency to build a business too fast compared to what the market wants, or building and creating an infrastructure prematurely before the business model is proven.”
“Almost all entrepreneurs overestimate the revenue and underestimate the cost. Planning for a range of what the business can do if not, determining whether there is a viable business down the road that we can grow.”
Neil Morton: “I’ve always loved mentoring people. I think in Peterborough there is a tremendous amount of collaboration which builds up the community as a whole. I see a great number of respected people getting involved in helping young entrepreneurs, because they are our future.”
“Consistency in social media marketing is something that has to be tweaked on the fly. You never know who is following you on twitter, and I encourage people to tweet out when they are using your product. That encourages other people to want to go there as well.”
“It’s a transformative era that we are in. You can send out a tweet and it can go around the world.”