The room was filled to capacity with people considering starting or expanding a business at the annual Entrepreneurship Forum held recently in Vernon River.
The full-day event was hosted by the Rural Action Centre (RAC) along with Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC) and Active Communities Inc. Service providers focused on business development also attended.
For more information about RAC, visit www.ruralactioncentre.ca.
Guest speakers Josh Lindsay and Oliver Sauvѐ talked about their invention, the Forktula, a spatula type accessory that slides onto a fork as an alternative to “licking your plate.”
Josh and Oliver appeared on CBC’s Dragons’ Den and pitched their Forktula idea, which secured a business offer they later declined. Within days of airing, the media exposure spiked online sales of about 16,000 Forktulas worth $27,000 from more than 40 countries.
Before embarking on this venture, Oliver worked for 23 years at a family-owned restaurant, and back-packed through more than 50 countries. He attributes his successful entrepreneurship to being a natural inventor and problem solver.
“After observing eating habits at my father’s restaurant, I came up with the Forktula, but I didn’t have any idea how to implement it. I thought about it for four or five years. At the end of a long hike in Santiago, I had one of those moments. I decided to go ahead with this idea, but I had no idea how.”
Oliver flew home to PEI and by chance met his long-time friend, Josh Lindsay. Josh is an environmental biologist, a product developer, entrepreneur, and a published author. We decided to get in touch, and that is where it all started.
“There were times when we were discouraged, but we persevered,” adds Oliver. “We have had 30 million social media views, successful sales, and our product has been featured in international magazines. Life is magical; opportunities can open up, so seize the moment and work hard.”
For more about the Forktula, visit www.forktula.com.
A panel of entrepreneurs shared their stories of choosing to live and work on PEI
Fleece & Harmony, Belfast
Kim Doherty-Smith and Jennifer Taran are co-owners and sisters who make fine untreated yarns from the wool of sheep they raise themselves. Their products are shipped worldwide.
The business started after the sisters and their husbands left the big city life of Toronto to live on a farm in rural PEI. They wanted to change their lifestyle and work for themselves.
“You need to have faith in yourself and your products,” says Jennifer. “Advertising on podcast platforms has totally transformed our business. We could hardly believe how our sales increased during the slower winter period.”
For more information visit www.fleeceandharmony.com.
East Coast Exotics, Eastern PEI
Rachel and Jason Hoogerbrugge are Atlantic Canadian breeders and distributors of organically-grown reptile food, including crickets, worms, and rodents.
The couple moved from Ontario in 2011 and re-established their company in rural PEI.
“We used every resource available on PEI that assists with opening a business,” says Rachel.
“We were surprised with the amount of support for entrepreneurs on the Island. It’s so easy here and we find everybody very approachable. It makes you feel you will be more successful.
“If you are considering starting a business, PEI is the place it can happen, because of the programs available and because of the community.”
For more information visit www.eastcoastexotics.ca.
Birdmouse, St. Georges
Lenny Gallant is a life-time artist and owner of Birdmouse, a business which specializes in art made from reclaimed wood and furniture designed with fluid, curving lines and steadfast dedication to environmental conservation.
“My wife Heather and I moved from Edmonton to rural PEI in 2012,” says Lenny.
“I started the business six years ago, and there were some challenges. We created a store attached to our home that gave people a place to visit, feel comfortable, and hang out for awhile. We also sell online.
“Once a week, we have an informal get-together with a few local business owners. It is helpful to reach out to other businesses and learn from each other.”
For more information visit www.birdmouse.ca.