From improv to semantic marketing, these entrepreneurs told us what it takes to succeed.
Failure is good.
It’s good when you’re trying your hand at improv acting; it improves it, makes it more entertaining. And, according to some successful business owners, failure can also be good for entrepreneurs.
This was just one of the many lessons learned during the first -ever Startup Crawl hosted by Innovation Guelph and CBaSE on July 31st.
University of Guelph students, alumni, CBaSE and IG staff travelled by foot through the charming streets of downtown Guelph to meet some of the inspiring entrepreneurs who weave the community together.
The tour started at The Making-Box, a graduate company of both the CBaSE Hub and IG.
In the beautiful theatre space, participants left their comfort zones and engaged in an improv-style team bonding activity, shouting zany phrases and acting as inanimate objects such as Jell-O in a bowl, toast popping, or an elevator.
Through the laughter, participants learned about the similarities between improv acting and entrepreneurship. Listening and communication skills are essential for success, and of course, failure is not always bad.
Co-founders Jay Reid and Hayley Kellett facilitated the activity and afterward shared the journey they took to build The Making-Box. Improv has had a powerful influence on their lives and they strive to bring their passion to others.
Over the years, the pair has overcome a number of challenges, but, practicing what they teach, they just laughed about them and moved on.
A tour of Ward 1 Studios was the next stop on the Crawl, where videographers Blair Cameron, Alex Vander Vlugt and Sandy Clipsham spoke about the positive impact the Guelph community has had on their business. They stressed the importance of connecting with the community and working collaboratively; not wearing ‘all of the hats,’ but rather finding the hat that fits best and sharing the workload.
The next stop was Hunch Manifest, a semantic marketing company. Co-Founders Martha and Mark Van Berkel discussed their long and challenging eight-year trek to reaching the million-dollar revenue they have now. They advised new entrepreneurs to take on a “just do it” attitude and emphasized the importance of having the right customers, finding your passion and staying focused.
The last stop was the not-for-profit community hub, 10C, where executive director Julia Grady took the group on a tour of the space, while explaining the purpose each floor serves – even the roof. Inclusion, accessibility and dedication were recurring themes as she discussed how her organization supports innovation and startups.
The Crawl ended with lunch at Innovation Guelph, and a surprise guest appearance from CBaSE and IG alum Stef Prodea, co-founder of Welo. The probiotic food company has grown tremendously in its first two years of operations and Prodea’s experience and wisdom in persevering through challenges proved to be inspiring for the new entrepreneurs, who asked many questions about her journey.
While each of the businesses on the Crawl are different from one another, undoubtedly with different experiences, there were common themes in what each entrepreneur had to say.
Themes such as perseverance, having a growth mindset, working hard at what you love, working collaboratively, and lastly, that the Guelph community is an amazing place to start a business.