Power panels are the result of a collaboration between Haltech Regional Innovation Center, Innovation Guelph and WEtech Alliance who invite RIC-associated women-owned companies in Southwestern Ontario to ask for help addressing the pain points they are experiencing in their businesses. The Power Panels invites successful, executive women in business and technology to share their feedback and advice and networks to RIC-associated women-owned companies in Southwestern Ontario. The panels aim to expand mentorship and strategic connection opportunities for women owned technology and innovation companies in Southwestern Ontario. Participating companies will have the opportunity to accelerate their skills development and be able to leverage high powered, influential mentors from outside of their usual networks. The January Power Panelists advising the founders included Caitlin McGregor, Linda Hasenfratz, Brooke Gordon and Nouhalila Cherkaoui.
Linda Hasenfratz, the Chief Executive Officer of Linamar Corporation and a Power Panel participant this month, offered both constructive advice for presenters as well as suggestions for how Linamar might be able to support some of the entrepreneurs. Since Linamar is an advanced manufacturer, Linda was in the unique position of potentially providing contract manufacturing to those looking to scale.
The first presenter, Gina Succi from Westhill Innovation was offered a connection to Linamar’s innovation office.
A suggested change in positioning was offered to the panel’s second presenter, Nadia Ladak of Marlow, a company that provides menstruators better options, starting with the first-ever lubricated tampon kit. Linda asked Nadia if she was solving the right problem and focusing on the customer’s main pain point. Linda suggested there may be some risk associated with their plan to launch their subscription-based tampons first with a two-step process for lubrication and later follow with a pre-lubricated version.
“It looks to me like you are more about painful insertion, this is the problem you solve,” she said. “Then oh, by the way, we have this awesome delivery system, so you’ll never run out.”
Linda gave presenter Mylene Tu of Lumaki Labs Inc. – an online system that connects employers with students looking for virtual work experience – the perspective that while internships may be virtual during COVID, as an employer, she much prefers bringing people onsite to work. She described a potential opportunity for Lumaki to explore pathways for non-traditional work experiences. She explained that some universities don’t have integrated learning programs and some areas of study may not have obvious job experience options.
Christina Barbato, Founder of SP Nutraceuticals, a company that takes scientific discovery and transforms it into consumable products that can treat disease, was cautioned by Linda to be careful how the company positions themselves to differentiate their legitimacy from among all the products making inflated claims.
Energrow, who produces soybean crushers that produce livestock feed and oil, drew the attention of Linda. She shared ideas around the potential benefit of Linamar’s agriculture division’s dealers as well as the potential of contract manufacturing with founder Jasmin Hofer. On a personal note, Linda was also interested from the standpoint of her New Zealand arms she shares with her husband with over 700 head of cattle that could potentially be a customer of Energrow.
The presenters received valuable input from all panelists whose thought-provoking questions and comments provide new perspectives, opportunities and inspiration for further research and connections.