By Gloria Welton
There are a lot of people with innovative business ideas across PEI. Now, there are two new initiatives which provide the environment and support to successfully validate and launch new ventures.
The new initiatives are offered by the Startup Zone in Charlottetown. The Startup Zone connects new or existing businesses to the support they need to grow.
“Startup School is a new branch of programming here at the Startup Zone,” says Sheryl MacAulay, CEO.
The Startup Zone’s new venture is Startup School, which offers the Innovator and the Launch programs.
The Startup School Innovator started in March. This nine-week program helps participants develop a business idea or validate the direction of their existing early-stage company.
“They already have an idea, and this program gives them time and direction to see if the idea is viable,” says Sheryl. “We support them to assess their idea and help them deliver a very effective pitch they can use to talk with potential clients, investors, or funders to take the business to the next stage.
“This program includes instructional sessions and one-on-one coaching, with the course material focused on helping entrepreneurs ‘learn by doing.’ At the end of the program, participants will have a clearly defined value proposition and be able to confidently pitch their business to anyone.”
The second offering is the Startup School Launch program, which starts in June and will be held bi-weekly. “It is a natural progression from the Innovator program, but participants do not have to take the Innovator program before moving into Launch.
“The 10 sessions are delivered in person, and in the summer months there will be one-on-one coaching because that time of the year is very busy.”
The Launch program will give participants the expertise to successfully bring their business ideas to the market. “Participants will discover where their product fits in the market and how to reach customers. This support is needed to commercialize the product.
“At the school, participants will work with peers and also have a coach/facilitator who will work with them to ensure they have all they need to walk through the process.”
Sheryl says entrepreneurship does not always progress in a straight line. “People might find very quickly that they need to change direction and pivot. A lot of trial and error may be involved, and this program will allow people to be in a space where they can research and be supported to continue to find the best fit for them.
“Finding out early on where you might need to make adjustments saves a lot of time and frustration. Change is perfectly normal and is very much a part of the process, and we want to support these stages and celebrate them as learning opportunities.
“The nice thing about the program is its structure: to learn by doing. When individuals come to our sessions, they work directly on their business ideas. They walk away knowing what their next steps will be: to explore, validate, and build on their findings and challenges with other peers and the facilitators. It is very much interactive and hands-on as people work directly on their business.”
How to apply for the June Startup School Launch program
Space is limited, so Sheryl encourages those interested to connect as soon as possible.
“The first step to apply is a discovery call. It is a 30-minute meeting to identify if the program is the right fit for the candidate. We also look at which program would work best, depending on what stage they are working towards.
“Startup School is at the beginning stages. At this point we only have one intake, but we are working towards offering more in the future.” To book a discovery call, click here
For more information, contact Startup Zone at 902-566-4213 or email [email protected]
The Startup Zone has partnered with CEED Nova Scotia, the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development, to facilitate the first two Startup School programs. It will be the first time that CEED Nova Scotia delivers its programming on PEI.