SURVIVING the fire â€” Learning from crisis
disrupting the video-game industry
seasonal investing: is it right for you?
10 A p r / M ay 2 0 1 7
gutsy New companies push past the comfort zone and come out on top Victoriaâ€™s thriving Music economy
Mike Walker and Amanda Eyolfson, Roll.Focus. Productions
Special 10 to watch issue PM41295544
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+ Contents APR/MAY 2017
10 to Watch Winners
Douglas shines the spotlight on Island innovation with our 8th annual 10 to Watch Awards.
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
Critically acclaimed blues/rock musician Jesse Roper tries out the instruments at Electric City Sound
28 When a Client Relationship
6 FROM THE EDITOR
Goes Off the Rails
9 IN THE KNOW The graving dock gets
Why it’s vital to try to fix a client relationship before you say forget it. BY MIKE WICKS
a big boost, marketing wisdom from CBC’s Terry O’Reilly and Indochino’s expansion
56 Behind the Music
18 TAKE THREE Add some electric
Douglas talks to the innovators behind our region’s thriving creative music economy. BY john threlfall
64 Surviving the Fire
Four business owners reveal what they learned after fires threatened their businesses. BY Keith Norbury 4 Douglas
energy and European flair to your bike commute
24 THE BIG IDEA Agog Labs’
74 LAST PAGE The window cleaner’s perspective
BY ATHENA MCKENZIE
INTEL (Business Intelligence) 69 growth Go ahead, take a leap By Clemens rettich
70 MONEY Is seasonal investing the right strategy for you?
new programming language, SkookumScript, could revolutionize the global video-game industry
BY STEVE BOKER and joseph alkana
BY Nevin Thompson
BY PETER ELKINS
71 entrepreneur How to build your startup playbook
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From the Editor
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2016-08-04 12:33 PM
Creative Ideas — Closer Than You Think?
I love talking to businesses in their early stages of growth, when ideas flow fast and furiously — when the improbable seems not only doable but desirable. It’s an “outside the comfort zone” phase of business we celebrate in our popular annual 10 to Watch issues. Creativity is vital to business, but as organizations grow, biases emerge that can compel leaders to reject the very ideas they say they need to keep their organizations vibrant and thriving. Often, by the time a great idea makes it past go, so many bits and pieces have been broken off to make it fit a corporate culture, it’s not so creative anymore. It’s just ... feasible. So how can companies embrace creativity without sacrificing feasibility and, ultimately, the profitability that makes it possible to do business in the first place? In her new book, Creative Change: Why We Resist It ... How We Can Embrace It, Jennifer Mueller, associate professor of management at the University of San Diego, writes about research she and her colleagues have conducted that addresses the question: “Why do leaders say they want creativity and then reject it when it emerges?” The problem, she says, is that people secretly prefer a sure thing to uncertainty — and that mindset dramatically impacts the process by which creativity is evaluated. People in organizations, she notes, typically fall into two groups: those with how/best mindsets and those with why/ potential mindsets. How/best people rate ideas by metrics, benchmarks and feasibility, and tend to think that if an idea works, it’s good; if it fails, it’s bad. On the other hand, why/potential people don’t see individual decisions as inherently good or bad, but as part of a creative process of building on what works and altering what doesn’t until a great solution emerges. “Most boardrooms are all ‘how,’ and the ‘why’ is crushed,” Mueller told CNN’s Amanda Enayati. “This is why Steve Jobs was so remarkable. He had a solid grasp of the ‘why’ and was also able to overcome objections to the ‘how.’ He was able to overcome the reality distortion field.” She refers to a study exploring what film experts thought of the first digital cameras. The experts dismissed digital because it didn’t fit any paradigms they knew, but the beginners, who had no preconceived notions of good or bad, loved it. The experts may have been right about the initial quality, but they were wrong about people’s desire for digital. Organizations are often surprised when they’ve followed best practices only to see a new competitor come along and “disrupt” a market. “Why didn’t we think of that?” they wonder. But they shouldn’t be surprised; instead, they should be motivated to reawaken that beginner’s mindset that rates the ‘why’ just as important as the ‘how’ and be willing to push out of the comfort zone, just as so many of this year’s 10 to Watch winners are doing.
Organizations are surprised when they’ve followed best practices only to see a new competitor come along and “disrupt” a market. “Why didn’t we think of that?” they wonder.
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[In the Know ]
Esquimalt Graving Dock, the largest deep-sea shipbuilding and repair facility on North America’s west coast, recently received an additional $100M in federal funding to make the facility more attractive to new customers. This adds to the federal government’s $150M investment in 2016 to modernize the facilities and remediate the seabed (material removed would have filled up to 70 Olympic-size swimming pools).
The Telford Financial Group (TFG), an independent financial service, has opened a Victoria branch at 1277 Fairfield Rd., the first branch to be opened outside of the Lower Mainland. TFG offers customized financial planning for individuals, families and businesses small and large. Knappett Industries of Nanaimo has been awarded a $7.3-million contract by the provincial government to finish work on the new route that will provide an improved connection between Highway 19 and Courtenay. This award moves the contract into the second phase of work on the North Courtenay Connector project. Phillips Brewing has plans to open a tasting room and retail outlet in the 4,000 square-foot space it has leased at 2000 Government Street. Pending city approvals, the tasting room would open next to the brewery’s current off-sales and reception near Government and Discovery. Phillips also recently acquired the 16,000-square -foot former home of Sports Traders at 508 Discovery to use as the brewery’s wholesale distribution centre. The move allows the company to centralize its wholesale operations in the Rattenbury-designed heritage building. NANAIMO Airport (YCD) will receive $7.46 million in funding for phase one of its terminal expansion project, to extend its passenger lounge, security area and baggage area. The joint federal/provincial/municipal funding is part of $87 million designated for infrastructure projects in 26 B.C. communities. YCD has experienced record growth of 108 per cent over the past six years. New projections estimate 450,000 passengers a year by 2020. Victoria will also receive $3.6-million in infrastructure funding for the upgrade of the Point Ellice Bridge on Bay Street. The first Park and Ride in Victoria proper launches April 1 at the former Metro Toyota site near Douglas and Frances. The DVBA has partnered with Robbins Parking, Pattison Group, B.C. Transit and the City to create 53 park-and-ride spaces. According to the Downtown Victoria Business Association, a monthly rate of $100 includes a parking space and bus pass.
Five minutes with
Terry O’Reilly by athena Mckenzie
national speaker bureau
Business in Action
Advertising guru Terry O’Reilly, one of Canada’s most influential marketing minds, is sharing his accumulated wisdom in a new book, This I Know: Marketing Lessons from Under the Influence. O’Reilly started as a copy chief for radio before going on to an award-winning career with several Toronto advertising agencies, creating campaigns for top brands such as Labatt, Molson, Bell, the Hudson’s Bay Company, Tim Hortons, Volkswagen and Nissan. In 1990, O’Reilly co-founded a creative audio production company called Pirate Radio & Television that produced scripts, sound and music for radio and television commercials. When he wasn’t creating advertising, he was helping Canadians appreciate it, first as host of CBC’s O’Reilly on Advertising, then The Age of Persuasion and most recently Under the Influence. This I Know looks to give “small feisty entrepreneurs some guidance when they are spending precious marketing dollars,” O’Reilly says. Terry O’Reilly will be at Bolen Books on April 6. There is a whole chapter on the importance of the elevator pitch — does the book have one? My elevator pitch for the show, which spills over into the book, is “A backstage pass to the closed world of advertising” — because I wrote this book for small-to-mediumsized businesses or any business that doesn’t have a huge budget. These companies go from tactic to tactic without having a really good foundation. They don’t have a big advertising agency on speed dial. This book gives them a backstage pass into the high-level thinking that they don’t normally have access to. I tried to put everything I know into this book. How has social media changed advertising? The fundamentals haven’t changed at all. The method of delivery has changed completely and the channels have changed completely. People always ask: “What is your social media strategy?” And I always say: “These are new channels and they are powerful channels, but you still need an idea. What’s the idea you are putting into these channels?” They still require an idea, and a company still requires an identity, and there is a way to build that identity and there’s
a way to create compelling messages for people to see or read or hear. The fundamentals of that never change. Why is simple often the best strategy? Simple is the best strategy. In an environment and era where — and there are a lot of different numbers on this — people see 3,000 messages a day, the rule of thumb is they notice six of those 3,000 and remember two. So, how do you get into that country club of two? By being simple. By selling one thing well per message, not five things well per message. That’s the most important thing in marketing: to be absolutely simple and compelling with each message. Most clients I have worked with want
to stuff a 30-second message full of information. My mantra is to shout one thing well instead of whispering a dozen things. You argue for more female creative directors. Why? Women purchase 80 per cent of the goods and services sold in North America. Then why are only three to five per cent of the creative directors in agencies women? If the golden rule of marketing is to know your customer, why wouldn’t you have predominately female creative directors in a business where goods and services are purchased by women? That disconnect has never made sense to me, and I think advertising suffers for it.
What Terry O’Reilly Knows – Lessons From This I Know Good advertising should not look like a line of identical bread loafs coming out of an oven. Branding is an exercise in consistency. Creativity is not. Creativity is an amplifier. Advertising just can’t be hard information. It doesn’t have to be humorous, but it must provoke an emotion. Effective advertising should be interesting, provocative and surprising. Small brands need big personality. A small company can’t compete with a larger company’s budget, so take the fight to a different battlefield.
Ride Sourcing Coming to B.C. IT’S A POLARIZING SUBJECT, BUT Victoria residents could be ordering cars on their phones by December
ide-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft will be allowed in B.C. by the holidays if the Liberals are re-elected, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone and TransLink Minister Peter Fassbender announced in early March. “We need to address the public’s desire for more choice, but also accessibility, convenience and competition,” Stone said. Included in the announcement were measures to ensure a “level playing field” for the existing taxi industry, including government plans to invest up to $1 million to help develop an app to allow the public to hail and pay for a taxi with a smartphone the same way that they would for a ride-sharing service. ■ Taxi Talk Not everyone is looking at the provincial government’s proposal as something that will bring holiday cheer. Mohan Singh Kang, president of the B.C. Taxi Association, believes the new regulations — which will require both taxi and ride-share drivers be at least 19 years of age and have an unrestricted driver’s licence, thereby phasing out the more restrictive Class 4 licences for taxi drivers — raise public safety concerns. “If you lower these standards from Class 4 to Class 5, we believe this will lower the safety,” Kang says. “We fail to see why we should be lowering the standards … It’s not an even playing field; it’s accommodating by bringing these standards down.”
■ Tech Town The City of Victoria has supported the idea of allowing ride sharing in the past, as long as steps were taken to modernize the taxi industry and “level the playing field.” Mayor Lisa Helps believes the planned measures do address these concerns and welcomes ride sharing. “Our number-one industry is technology and when we have our Capital Mission, hosting people from around North America, looking for them to invest in our local businesses, one of the first questions they say is, ‘Do you have Uber?’ or, ‘Yeah, I’ll come when you have Uber,” Helps says. “For a $4 billion industry, that’s a really important consideration.”
ALL IN AN APP “Ride sourcing” uses a peer-to-peer business model and connects riders with drivers via a smart-phone app. The passenger uses the app — provided by a thirdparty facilitator, such as Uber or Lyft — to find a ride. The driver typically uses a personal vehicle to transport the passenger, and payment is made through the app. Riders and drivers can rate one another as a form of quality control.
WEST COAST DELAY Ride-hailing or ride-sharing services have been operating in major markets around the globe since 2010. Uber launched in Toronto in 2012 and now operates from Montreal to Calgary, but stricter regulations have kept the company out of B.C. Uber first held driver information sessions in Vancouver and Victoria in April of 2016. Lyft spokesperson Chelsea Harrison says, “We see tremendous potential for B.C. but don’t have any launch plans to share at the moment.”
LOCAL LAUNCH Victoria-based ASAP Technologies recently launched their ride-sharing app, ASAP. “We want to push Canadian jobs and Canadian positions inside the tech economy, and I think that will resonate with people inside B.C. — I think local business goes a lot further,” says cofounder Taylor Fraser. “We also take a green approach and take care of our drivers, and the byproduct is going
to be happier riders.”
ICBC will invest up to in the taxi sector to install crashavoidance technology in all B.C. taxis. A pilot program showed this technology led to a 61% reduction in at-fault, rear-end crashes and a 24% reduction in all crashes.
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Page One Publishing to Launch New Magazine Excitement building for Victoria Home & Design spring/summer 2017
HOME DESIGN For Page One Publishing owners Lise Gyorkos and Georgina Camilleri, few things are more exciting in business than creating an all-new magazine. That’s exactly what the publishers of Douglas and YAM magazines will to do this fall when they launch Victoria Home & Design, the city’s only magazine dedicated to homebuilding, renovations and remodelling. “When we assessed the local magazine market,” says Page One president Lise Gyorkos, “we determined there was no magazine with a 100-percent focus on highly motivated consumers who are ready to move forward with custom home-builds, renovations and other home improvements. So that’s what we have created.” Victoria Home & Design, she says, is a highquality, expertly curated magazine for current or prospective home and condo owners who want the finest ideas and solutions for renovation and custom building, plus interior design, landscape design, home décor, home tech and more. Debuting this September with a 20,000 print run and Canada Post select home delivery along with retail distribution, Victoria Home & Design is “already attracting strong interest from advertisers,” adds Gyorkos. “Regional and niche magazines are thriving in North America, and make up the majority of new magazine launches,” says Gyorkos. “Our experience is that if you create publications that really tune in to what local readers and advertisers want, and you respect their desire for high quality, the magazine market is ultra-healthy.” And with two successful decades in the magazine business, Gyorkos and Camilleri ought to know. HOMEBUILDING • RENOVATIONS • REMODELLING • REAL ESTATE
Kitchen Reno Extraordinaire | A Minimalist Masterpiece The Smart Home | Flooring Workbook | Increase Your Curb Appeal Design Inspiration | Top Trends + Must Haves
Save the Date Greater Victoria Business Awards
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April 20, 6-10 p.m. The Fairmont Empress REGISTER: victoriachamber.ca The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s annual gala recognizes businesses in the Capital Region that have achieved a standard of excellence in the community through their own abilities, efforts and initiatives during a night of prestige, entertainment and celebration.
VIATEC Technology Awards June 2, 4:30-9:30 p.m. Victoria Conference Centre viatec.ca Celebrate the achievements of the tech companies and people responsible for making Greater Victoria the fastestgrowing technology region in B.C. at this rocket-fuelled entertainment and awards evening.
10 to watch winner Suited For Success When Indochino became a Douglas 10 to Watch winner in 2009, the company — a frontrunner in selling custom menswear online — had offices in Victoria and China. Now based in Vancouver, this menswear leader evolved its retail model by adding showrooms in 2014, and recently announced expansion plans for eight new showrooms in 2017, including Edmonton, Calgary and Greater Vancouver this spring. Another five showrooms are scheduled to open in major U.S. cities later this year. Indochino’s goal? To open 150 showrooms globally by 2020. “We came up with this retail model that created a great experience for our customers and saw it as a way to amplify the experience on the web,” says Indochino co-founder Kyle Vucko. “It is now one of the key growth levers of the organization.” Vucko started Indochino with Heikal Gani in 2007, while they were pursuing degrees at UVic and couldn’t find a well-made suit in their price range. Both have since left the company, though Vucko is still involved as an investor. “It wasn’t just offering people clothing online; we had to fundamentally reinvent the supply chain,” Vucko says. “Pioneering was a key theme of my 10 years as CEO and my time with my co-founder, and we both had a lot of fun with that.”
Chinatown: Distinct and Relevant
“We came up with this retail model that created a great experience for our customers and saw it as a way to amplify the experience on the web.” Kyle Vucko and Heikal Gani on Douglas magazine’s July/August 2011 cover
The Art of Business Travel
Indochino founders Heikal Gani and Kyle Vucko.
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New Passenger Ferry
V2V VACATIONS recently revealed the exterior of the V2V Empress, its new luxury passenger ferry, which will carry up to 254 passengers on three-and-a-half-hour trips between Victoria and Vancouver beginning May 1. The exterior features an award-winning orca motif by Kwakwaka’wakw artist William (Billy) Cook, who refers to the orca’s symbolism as “guardian of the sea.” The vessel, now in the final stages of a refit at Point Hope Maritime, is owned by V2V Vacations’ Australian parent company, Riverside Marine, which has spent more than $10 million on the launch of the 126-foot catamaran. Oneway trips on the V2V Empress are priced at $120, $199 or $240. Point Hope staff have put in more than 11,000 person-hours on the vessel, replacing nearly every operating system on board and adding state-of-the art stabilizers. Clipper to Launch Victoria-Vancouver Service Next Year Tobias Haack, CEO of Clipper Navigation, has announced his company will launch its new high-speed Victoria-Vancouver passenger-ferry service in spring 2018. The company says it will receive the Halunder Jet, a 52-metre high-speed catamaran from its parent company, FRS, this fall. The vessel has the capacity for 579 passengers.
Tourism Means Business
$7.8M Tourism Victoria’s 2017 estimated budget (compared to $5.9 million in 2016)
Portion of Tourism Victoria budget allocated to marketing and sales (compared to 41.8% in 2016)
Cruise ships expected to dock (compared with 225 in 2016)
Number of passengers on Air Canada’s daily direct route from Toronto, when the airline adds the Boeing 767-300ER this summer (compared to current 200-seat Airbus 321) 14 Douglas
When Success Leads to Succession
n a business landscape where both mentorship and financing can be tough to find, Rahim Khudabux has found both thanks to local business leader Al Hasham, co-owner of Max Furniture and Maximum Express Courier, Freight & Logistics. In 2001, Khudabux was an 18-year-old student studying social justice and business at the University of Victoria. By his own admission, he was on the wrong path and unsure of the future. All that changed when he met Hasham. A well-known local mentor, Hasham quickly saw that Khudabux had the right stuff but was seeking guidance and direction. Hasham took him under his wing, helping him negotiate the purchase of a small wholesale company. Then, in 2008, Khudabux became manager at Max Furniture, another of the businesses co-owned by Hasham, his brother Al Vergee and Hamish Chumber. Almost 16 years after their first meeting, Hasham has set the wheels in motion for Khudabux to become president and owner of Max Furniture. In true mentorship fashion, he and his business partners will provide financing, and Hasham will continue as CEO to provide
ongoing guidance over the next five years or so. “I have total confidence in Rahim,” says Hasham, who is currently chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. “I’ve felt pretty blessed the whole way along,” says Khudabux. “When we first started working together, Al and his brother told me, ‘Be ready for a roller coaster ride.’ I was just a kid, but Al’s mentorship has made a huge difference in my life. We have built quite a bond and I wouldn’t be where I am without him.” Hasham hopes success stories like this will help set an example for business owners to engage in succession planning with the next generation instead of closing their doors when they want to move on. Al Hasham (L) and “How many businesses go up for sale Rahim Khudabux or close because owners haven’t done this?” he asks. “Succession planning is huge and it takes about 10 years.” supporting the community in whatever way he can. Khudabux is excited to grow the business “Al and his brother taught me so many and eventually expand the 3,500-square-foot lessons, including ‘Walk, don’t run, until you are showroom. He also plans to continue Hasham’s ready,’” says Khudabux. “Thanks to them, I’m example of passing on goodwill to others and ready to take this to the next stage.”
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Rahim Khudabux Set to Take the Reins at Max Furniture
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Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Independently Owned and Operated. E.&O.E.: This information is from sources which we deem reliable, but must be verified by prospective Purchasers and may be subject to change or withdrawal.
1406 - 707 Courtney St., Victoria
11317 Hummingbird Place, Victoria
1287 Rockland Ave., Victoria
2454 Ligget Rd., Mill Bay
1236 Muirfield Place, Langford
New custom build by Lauma Properties in enclave of new homes in prestigious North Saanich neighbourhood. 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom 3,800 sqft on 1 acre.
This exquisite 4300 sq.ft., 5 bedroom, 5 bathroom home is situated on a spectacular waterfront property ideal for kayaking, swimming, boating and even enjoying your seaplane.
Beautiful home with an attractive new price. This home has amenities galore including ocean views, high end finishes, 2 suites and a 46 x 32 ft. workshop.
Enjoy resort living surrounded by picturesque views of Mt. Finlayson & world class golf courses, from this luxurious golf side home in Bear Mountain.
Scott & Mike Garman
D’Arcy Harris Logan Wilson
Brad Maclaren PREC
469 Monterey Ave., Victoria
304 - 21 Dallas Rd., Victoria
136 Clarence St., Victoria
4179 Thornhill Crescent , Victoria
Town & Country: Charming artists home with 3 bedrooms & 2 bathrooms. Lightfilled, spacious living space with access to sunny ocean view deck. glynismacleod.com
Sweeping views of the Inner Harbour, from 2 bedroom condo located in premiere, award winning Shoal Point with a unique terrace of 670 sq. ft. Nancy Stratton 250.857.5482 Sophia Briggs 250.418.5569
Fantastic, signature designed 3 bedroom / 3 bathroom plus den. Open concept living in the heart of James Bay, low maintenance and move-in ready. Too many details to list, a must see.
Beautifully renovated throughout. Open concept and modern living featuring vaulted ceilings. Large two bedroom in-law suite. Close to all amenities and shopping. Minutes to UVIC and Mt. Douglas park.
Glynis MacLeod PREC
604 - 139 Clarence St., Victoria
1008 - 845 Yates St., Victoria
205 Mariners Way, Mayne Island
10th floor 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo in the Wave! You will love the open floor plan, 9’4” ceilings, modern kitchen, wood floors and much more. Sophia Briggs 250.418.5569 Nancy Stratton 250.857.5482
Beautiful waterfront Mayne Island Lindal Cedar 70’s-built home on .45 acre with dock 5 mins from ferry. All the charms of island living & close to all amenities. Needs updating. more pics at andrewmaxwell.ca
No rental restrictions. Ideal location close to shopping, schools & bus routes. A quaint condo building with well maintained grounds & building.
Transitioning from a home to a condo? Please contact me for current market information and expertise with Strata Real Estate. Dean Boorman
WHITE ROCK 604.385.1840
SUN PEAKS 250.578.7773
$215,000 403 - 3255 Glasgow Ave., Victoria
Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Independently Owned and Operated. E.&O.E.: This information is from sources which we deem reliable, but must be verified by prospective Purchasers and may be subject to change or withdrawal.
The Work Cycle Forget T-shirts and spandex — the modern bike commuter has that Euro-inspired flair, embracing business suits and stylish accessories, for a ride enhanced with the latest digital connectivity tools.
suit up for cycling Strellson suit (Outlooks for Men, $798)
If you’re blessed with a short urban commute that allows you to wear a suit, Strellson’s stylish options are designed around mobility and flexibility. Some Strellson suits are made with technical fabrics so they are sweat- and water-resistant. (Eton white shirt, $225; Eton tie, $130; Eton pocket square, $60; and Hudson brogue shoe, $275, all available at Outlooks for Men)
Power in Motion Stromer ST2 (Go Time Electric Bikes, $9,000)
Head Case Torch T2 helmet (torchapparel.com, US $140)
Designed to help you look stylish in the day and more visible at night, the T2 has 10 integrated LED lights. The helmet is a creation of an industrial designer who spent months making long cross-town commutes in Los Angeles by both bike and car.
IT’s in the bag This classic English pannier satchel is so sophisticated it could be reason enough to take up cycling to work. It comes with hidden, spring-loaded pannier clips to seamlessly attach to your bike, as well as a black leather shoulder strap. It’s functional too, with reversible reflective strips for safer night riding and a waterproof bag jacket for those (inevitable) rainy Vancouver Island days.
Jeffrey Bosdet/Douglas magazine
Hill & Ellis Jasper leather panier (levelovictoria.co, $347)
Considered the Swiss Army knife of electric bikes, the Stromer ST2 is the world’s first digitally connected e-bike. It features a fully integrated user interface, GPS and GSM, as well as the ability to communicate with your smartphone through the Stromer app. Among other things, this means you can remotely lock and unlock your bike — and even remotely locate your bike should it ever get stolen.
Mind the Machine Eric Jordan, the CEO of Codename Entertainment and a lifelong gamer, believes the exciting advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) make it the technological area that could have the most profound effect on business — and the world — in the near future.
All the Usual Reasons to Invest with Edward Jones.
Plus One. “Artificial intelligence is an extremely interesting and exciting area ... Computers have been the world’s best chess players since 1997, the best Jeopardy players since 2011 and, starting in 2016, the best at playing GO. In the future, Google DeepMind and Blizzard Entertainment’s recent partnership will birth an AI that beats the best human StarCraft II player. What’s next? An AI lawyer that beats a human lawyer? Imagine what this could mean to your business?”
ENGLISH The following is a quick reference guide to Anne M Delves, CFP colors, fonts, and logos. Financial Advisor
PMS 116C PMS 5535C PMS 160C PMS 647C
Now investors in Victoria have one more reason to feel confident about their financial future. Anne Delves is here to Gotham deliver the expert advice they need. is used for all Edward Gotham
Photo: jeffrey bosdet/douglas magazine Model: nick harrison
Jo pieces. It is primarily used for bod thing will always remain go One below 9 pt. on 13 pt. Preffered
the same, however: Every Edward Jones advisor is ITCcommitted FranklintoGothic helping individual ITCinvestors Franklin Gothic make sense ofis used for investing withHNW personalcategory. service used for our and a time-tested approach.
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Member – Canadian Investor Protection Fund
BRENTWOOD BAY RESORT & SPA INTRODUCING THE WELLNESS CENTRE
rentwood Bay Resort & Spa has been providing five star guest experiences for over twelve years and was recently awarded Canadian Tourism Business of the Year Award. The success of this property in recent years has been largely in part to heightened focus on their organizational health and sharing that with employees, guests, partners and the community. Brentwood Bay Resort’s mission statement no longer focuses simply on offering the best product and service. Their desire is to enrich the lives of individuals and the wellness of organizations. When the Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa team considered how many individuals work within hospitality organizations at some point in their lives, they realized the profound effect hospitality organizations could have on communities if they focus their human resources initiatives towards supporting individual development. This was the inspiration behind the development of the Emergent Leaders Program, which provides all team members, from front-line housekeepers to members of their leadership team, the opportunity to discover and grow their leadership abilities. To develop this program Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa has aligned with two globally renowned and highly respected organizational development companies including The Schutz Company of New York, USA who has been delivering The Human Element® approach to organizational transformation to organizations such as NASA, Boeing, Memorial Sloane-Kettering, and the US Army, since 1984. Steve Miller, Canadian consultant and President of IMEX Strategies, Vancouver BC, created and delivers the Implicit Career Search®, internationally recognized as the most innovative and effective career planning method available, to individuals and organizations throughout North America and Europe. Steve Miller has also worked with Zivorad Slavinsky to learn a number of simple and amazingly effective techniques to help us remove negative emotional charges and mental plaque that stop us from functioning at optimal levels. By merging these two approaches, the Emergent Leaders Program provides an integral approach to leadership training. General Manager, Natasha Richardson, soon realized Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa
Offering a mix of programs, coaching, workshops and treatments, the Wellness Centre offers the tools to maximize the potential of yourself, your people, and your organization. was onto something truly special and unique, not only in hospitality and tourism, but in overall organizational health. She saw this as the resort’s opportunity to make a real impact and truly fulfill its mission to enrich the lives of others. The Brentwood Bay Wellness Centre now delivers this results-driven content to individuals and organizations across communities and industries. Offering a comprehensive mix of the most cutting edge and transformative workshops, one-on-one coaching, customized team building workshops, regularly scheduled leadership programs, and Eastern Philosophy treatments, the Wellness Centre offers the
tools to maximize the potential of yourself, your people, and your organization. An organization can have a culture and a purpose that makes a unique and profound contribution to its community. Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa has found its unique and profound contribution and it was all conceptualized from their focus on a progressive approach to human resources. Find out more about these opportunities at www.brentwoodbaywellness.ca.
www.brentwoodbaywellness.ca firstname.lastname@example.org 250.544.2079
ANDREW SHERET LIMITED | SPLASHES BATH & KITCHEN
ndrew Sheret Limited is celebrating its 125th year in business! Many exciting events and promotions are planned to celebrate this milestone at all their locations. Since 1892, Andrew Sheret Limited has been dedicated to serving the people of British Columbia. They specialize in and distribute a variety of products in several fields, some of which now include: Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, Fireplaces, Irrigation, Pumps, Water Filtration, Solar and Water Works. They focus on sales and distribution of both North American and international products and supply these products to cities, municipalities, trade and retail customers. Their retail division is known as Splashes Bath & Kitchen, and currently 21 of their 24 wholesale locations have adjoining Splashes Bath & Kitchen showrooms. Andrew Sheret’s wholesale and retail locations are located across Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and the Interior of British Columbia to conveniently serve their customers. With hundreds of suppliers, thousands of products and the most knowledgeable renovation staff in BC, they invite you to look at their extensive product lines and gather inspiration for your project.
“We are very excited to be celebrating such a big milestone in 2017! Our employees are devoted to serving the people of British Columbia. Here’s to the next 125 years!” — Michelle Braden, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Andrew Sheret Limited Splashes Bath & Kitchen showroom consultants provide excellent product recommendations and knowledge, and can assist with both renovation and new construction design ideas. Splashes Bath & Kitchen Showrooms lead the industry in product quality and design. Business has certainly changed since 1892, but even today in the 21st century, principles of fairness toward employees and strong customer service continue to be the focus of the company. In many ways, the history of Andrew Sheret Limited parallels that of Canada’s: both were built on a foundation of hard work from their earliest citizens and are maintained by a society that values an entrepreneurial spirit and a responsible social conscience. Both Andrew Sheret Limited and Splashes Bath & Kitchen are open 6 days per week, and their beautiful showrooms will help you enjoy the decision making process. You can also book an appointment to get the best personalized one-on-one
consulting experience for your project. For additional information, or to book an appointment at one of their retail showrooms, please visit sheret.com or splashesonline.com. Andrew Sheret Limited looks forward to celebrating its 125th anniversary with their valued customers this year.
Andrew Sheret Limited and Splashes Head Office 250.386.7744 #401-740 Hillside, Victoria, BC V8T 1Z4 www.splashesonline.com www.sheret.com
GLENLYON NORFOLK SCHOOL PREPARING YOUR CHILD FOR A HAPPY AND SUCCESSFUL LIFE.
n an ever-changing and uncertain world, is it possible to be confident your child will thrive, reach their potential and simply enjoy life? At Glenlyon Norfolk School the answer is yes. Absolutely! GNS provides students with the knowledge and attitudes necessary to define and achieve success and happiness. Compassionate, expert teachers inspire young minds to develop ability and view challenge as opportunity. In our supportive, safe environment, students become confident learners, willing to take risks and push boundaries. Our uniquely designed and delivered approach to the International Baccalaureate (IB) curricula enables students to learn worldclass, higher level skills in inquiry, analysis and innovation to address real problems. They develop into effective communicators, able to adapt to change and also influence the direction of change as disrupters themselves. Students become caring, engaged citizens with strong character, and grow to understand both who they are and how they can positively impact the world and their communities. When we say they learn “doing good” is just
Our uniquely designed and delivered approach to the International Baccalaureate (IB) curricula enables students to learn world-class, higher level skills in inquiry, analysis and innovation to address real problems. as important as “doing well,” we mean it. Our well-rounded approach to education extends far beyond the traditional classroom setting. Students learn the importance of a healthy lifestyle through our athletics and outdoor education programs, guided by committed coaches who value teamwork and participation every bit as much as skill acquisition. Meanwhile, our Fine Arts instructors inspire the development of talents and passions, encouraging students to push beyond their comfort zones, with results that are often truly remarkable. At GNS, we understand that change is a constant. The rapid pace of advances in technology make it nearly impossible to prepare students for the exact careers that
will be in demand tomorrow, simply because in so many cases they do not even exist today. Fortunately, the IB education offered at GNS prepares students for life, and enables them to always try their best through truth and courage. A positive partnership between home and school allows each student to be fully supported and feel minimal stress while enjoying a well-rounded, positive educational journey. Our graduates are accepted into university, do well in their post-secondary studies and, most importantly, live rewarding, fulfilling lives. But don’t just take our word for it — come and see for yourself. Contact our Admissions Office today to learn how we can help your child’s pursuit of personal excellence while at the same time enjoying all that life has to offer. Middle & Senior Schools: 801 Bank Street, Victoria, BC Junior School: 1701 Beach Drive, Victoria, BC
250-370-6801 email@example.com www.mygns.ca
ocean wealth money conversations made simple
Steve Bokor CFA , Ian David Clark CFP, Joseph Alkana CIM FCSI, Jessica Williams
ow comfortable are you discussing financial strategies that impact your future? Most of us are intimidated by the jargon when we need to talk about investing for the future or how to leave a legacy. You are not alone in wanting honest advice and plain language you can understand with advisors who know what they are doing. Ocean Wealth is a team that can easily build you a powerful portfolio and really understands what matters most to you. With the right people So, what if I told you that you can have that conversation and enjoy the confidence that a successful financial life can bring? Meet Ocean Wealth. An experienced wealth management team of PI Financials’ Steve Bokor, Ian David Clark and Joseph Alkana. These three knowledgeable and down-to-earth financial professionals combine their complementary skill sets to deliver caring and attentive service to their clients. Ian David Clark, Certified Financial Planner and co-writer of a column for Douglas magazine believes
wealth management is the blueprint to a client’s financial success and simply defines it as: “Wealth management is the process of fitting together your investment portfolio with your financial and retirement planning in one comprehensive financial plan.” Jessica Williams adds support to the planning process with a focus on health and insurance services. How can we help you? With Ocean Wealth you will not walk out of a meeting or hang up the phone and wonder, What just happened? While working together as a team, each member of Ocean Wealth is a specialist. This creates an exceptional wealth management experience — one client at a time. Steve Bokor, Chartered Financial Analyst, can be seen each week on CHEK television. He explains how the group differentiates themselves in the industry saying, “Our approach is to focus on the client — not the products. That may seem obvious but isn’t always the case.” Ocean Wealth strives for excellence, best explained by their shared
Member-Canadian Investor Protection Fund Information contained herein represents the views of the writer, not those of PI Financial Corp., based on assumption; the writer believes to be reasonable. The material contained is for information purposes only and not to be construed as a solicitation for the purchase of securities. This information is intended for distribution in jurisdictions where PI Financial is registered as an advisor or a dealer in securities. Any distribution or dissemination of this article in any other jurisdiction is strictly prohibited.
vision, “to help our clients feel comfortable working with us, ease their concerns and demonstrate, in every decision made, that they can depend on us and feel confident about their financial future.” You can build a powerful portfolio What matters to you? Joseph Alkana, Portfolio Manager, contributes to the Toronto/Montreal Exchange OptionMatters.ca blog. Working with many new and nearly retired clients, he emphasizes how important it is to listen to them, saying “We have listened, and responded with strategies to reduce volatility and generate conservative and tax smart income.” Just as the ocean moderates coastal climates, Ocean Wealth works to insulate their clients from the financial noise and market volatility. They listen — a rare and wonderful attribute these days. It makes sense to work with professionals who listen and are well regarded by the most important people: their clients.
the big idea BY Nevin Thompson
Conan Reis Co-Founder, CEO Stephen Johnson Software Engineer
Markus Breyer Co-Founder, CTO
for Keeps A Victoria tech firm is setting out to transform the multi-billion-dollar video-game industry with its superpowered programming language, SkookumScript — and it’s catching the attention of some pretty big players.
Conan Reis has a big idea: from his headquarters in Victoria, he wants to revolutionize a global industry that generates at least $100 billion a year and employs at least 10 million software developers. That industry is video gaming, and Reis and his team of “mad scientists” at Agog Labs have developed a programming language, SkookumScript, that makes it much easier to create video games, while saving time and money and increasing creativity. After a journey that has taken him from
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Port Alberni to the heart of the video-game industry in San Francisco and back to Vancouver Island again, Reis says his solution for the industry is definitely not an overnight success. “SkookumScript is the result of two decades of work,” he says from his home office in Victoria (Agog Labs is a distributed company). “We developed it because of horrible experiences we had making games.”
Skookum Means “Impressive” This innovative programming language is specifically designed for video-game Douglas 25
development. It’s called “skookum,” Reis says, because as a scripting language it is powerful and easy to use. And there is nothing else like SkookumScript right now in the video-game industry. “When you design a game, there are all sorts of things you’re creating at the same time, such as music, world-building and 3D action, as well as the actual gameplay: the story, mission, logic, stage direction and AI [artificial intelligence],” says Reis. Some sort of programming language has to pull everything together when video games are being designed so that gameplay can be tested, adjusted and perfected. The problem, according to Reis, is that video games have never had a specialized programming language for dealing with gameplay. Instead, game studios have traditionally written their own scripting language, from scratch, for each game. When the game is completed, the programming language never gets used again. “It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to use an out-of-the-box language like C++ to build a tool or scripting language that assembles all the components of the game to test gameplay,” says Reis. “On top of that, only the people who build the tool know how to use it.” This means video-game designers, producers
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and other “light coders” have to rely on engineers who know how to code in order to make and test even the tiniest changes to the game. While SkookumScript, which can used even by people without a coding background, can save video-game developers time and money, as an easy-to-use authoring tool it also helps foster creativity. “SkookumScript makes it easy to test and make changes during the development process,” says Reis. “Designers no longer need to work with an engineer to try out ideas and perfect a game.”
A First for the Industry The big question: why hasn’t anyone else ever thought of this before? “In the beginning, whenever I told anyone I wanted to create an entirely new programming language, they said I was crazy,” says Reis. “When I was working on different video-game projects, it was as if people were using shovels to dig ditches, and they just wanted better shovels to dig ditches. When I showed them the equivalent of a backhoe, they were amazed.” Reis has developed technologies and tools for the video-game industry for more than 20 years. After graduating with a degree in cognitive science (“My focus was on artificial intelligence,” he says) from Simon Fraser University in 1995,
he was immediately hired out of his co-op term with mega-gaming company Electronic Arts (EA), Canada, which has a large development campus in Burnaby. “EA had their own programming language they used to develop games, and I discovered it was much easier to use than C++,” says Reis.
LucasArts, the pioneering video-game company founded by George Lucas, heard about Reis’s creation and invited him to work in the San Francisco Bay area to help refine their own in-house programming language. After leaving EA and striking out as an independent, Reis discovered there was no programming language he could rely on to develop his own video-game projects. He had a big idea: just like at any other video-game company, why not create his own programming language? “I got a grant from the B.C. Innovation Council and created Ergo, my own programming language for video games,” says Reis.
Another big idea Reis incorporated into Ergo in 1995 was to distribute processing power to run the program across a network of computers, at least a decade before the rise of “cloud computing.” But best of all, says Reis, Ergo dramatically simplified and reduced the amount of coding required to produce a video game. LucasArts, the pioneering video game company founded by George Lucas, heard about Reis’s creation and invited him to work in the San Francisco Bay area to help refine their own in-house programming language. “While working on video-game titles such as Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, I ended up creating a new programming language for LucasArts called Chewiescript (named after the Star Wars character Chewbacca) that was designed for practicality, performance and scalability,” says Reis. At LucasArts, Reis came up with yet another big idea: he found a way to continue to reuse his video-game programming language and avoid reinventing the wheel each time he moved to a new game studio. “One of the first things I did when I went to LucasArts was I wrote an IP-licensing agreement,” he says. “So, throughout my videogame career, with every company I worked at and every project I’ve been on, I would license the tech. That’s not something that was generally done when creating video-game scripting languages.” This one big idea has meant that, as a programming language, SkookumScript incorporates 20 years of evolution and hard work. And now Reis and his team are ready to take on the world. “About 40 per cent of the $100-billion global video-game industry is devoted to gameplay development costs,” says Reis. “Software development is expensive, so SkookumScript offers a chance to free up resources and also free up creativity by allowing those ‘light coders’ to try out ideas and refine their games.” So far, Reis and Agog Labs have set up a deal that incorporates SkookumScript into Unreal Engine, a game-development tool that’s used to create about 20 per cent of all games. There are also plans to integrate it into the two other industry-standard game engines.
A Big Vision So what’s Conan Reis’s next big idea? “We plan to scale up to a 60-person games studio, based right here in Victoria,” says Reis. “We want to take crazy ideas and turn them into awesome games that showcase our technology.” At the moment, thanks to the partnership with Unreal, SkookumScript is being used in 97 countries by developers from hundreds of studios. “But,” say Reis, “we are just getting started.” ■
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When a relationship with a client goes off the rails, itâ€™s time to listen up. 28 Douglas
When a client relationship goes wrong, it can be tempting to go into denial or blame the client, but a smarter business strategy is to take positive steps to rescue the relationship. We asked the experts for advice. ď ˝ by Mike Wicks
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eems like a strange question, but businesses all too frequently forget who pays their bills. I once heard a consultant say, “This would be a great job if it weren’t for the clients” — funny, but all too often business owners treat clients as irritants rather than saviours. I’ll admit that over the years I’ve upset a few clients; it goes with the territory. I once forwarded an email from a client to my techie, noting in the email how dumb the client was. The problem was, I accidentally hit reply-all, so my client got the email too. So embarrassing! Michele Hansen, director of professional services at Applied Office Solutions, says, “You can’t be in business for even a year without having upset somebody somehow, and having an opportunity to learn from it.” No matter how client-service-focused you are, things will go off the rails. When that happens, it all comes down to how you go about putting things right. Unfortunately, many business owners have a habit of throwing gasoline on the fire by creatively blaming the client, avoiding the issue or promising to put things right and then failing to do so. So what are some positive ways you can salvage your client relationship when you blow it?
1 Own the issue The bottom line is, your client doesn’t care what happened; all he or she wants is for you to deliver what you promised, find a solution and/or get some form of recompense. Deirdre Campbell, founder of Tartan Group, a global integrated marketing and communications firm based in Victoria, agrees. “That’s one thing we’ve always done,” she says. “We’ve stepped in right away and owned the issue.” Campbell tells the story of promoting a package called Fly Like an Eagle for the former Aerie Resort some years ago, in partnership with Helijet. Her team never made the connection between the name of the package and Steve Miller’s iconic song. A call from the great man’s lawyer soon fixed that. Campbell’s client was taken aback that her team hadn’t made the connection to the song. Campbell did the right thing: she called Steve Miller’s lawyer and admitted her mistake. Her apology was graciously accepted, but Campbell still had to take the package down.
2 Listen, learn, offer a solution Hansen believes listening to the client is the number-one priority. “If [your client] is talking to you, it’s a good sign. If they’ve just given up and aren’t talking and have walked away, there’s no opportunity for you to reconcile the situation and create a win-win. If they’re venting, expressing frustration and anger … really pay attention to what they are saying and the emotions they are expressing.” She suggests saying something like, “I hear that you are really angry, I hear that you are really frustrated, and I hear you have been disappointed. I’m fully committed to finding the best resolution for you.” Hansen also says that at no time should you make excuses. Finally, ask your client what kind of solution they’d like to see. Often, people are fair, and you may be surprised that putting things right is a whole lot easier than you might have expected.
3 Empower your employees Consider the ways your company might fail to deliver, and then provide training and protocols to help your employees deal with client complaints effectively. This can mean anything from offering a refund to replacing a defective item. Hansen has a good tip: “Anytime you bring on a new employee, ask them to be a leader in the business. Help them understand the scope of their role.” Giving your staff options for fixing client complaints, and even a discretionary budget to put things right immediately, is good for business and can reduce the drama inherent in difficult client interactions.
4 Keep ahead of the issue Campbell says one of her company’s practices is: “Always, always, come with a solution. Never just say, ‘We made a mistake,’ but rather, ‘Hey, we made a mistake, but here’s how we are going to correct it.’”
5 Go the extra mile Sometimes, putting things right won’t make your client happy; it might just make them less unhappy. However, when you exceed your client’s expectations, you can turn a disaster into a customer-service coup. Campbell once flew out to her tourism client, the city of Quito, Ecuador, because she felt they might need help. She had invited the media to the destination but wasn’t getting itinerary details or sufficient information to ensure the writers that they were going to be well looked after.
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“So I just flew myself out there and took over hosting them. These [media] relationships were important to [the client] and me, so I wanted to make sure to go above and beyond for the client. Sometimes you have to make that decision regardless of the cost.” Anything that demonstrates you’re genuinely sorry and appreciative of their patience and business can make an impact on your relationship and often result in positive referrals and social media.
6 Keep it real Earning the trust of your clients takes time. It happens through many interactions: each positive interaction builds on the relationship until finally your integrity is rewarded by your clients’ loyalty. The value of this should not be underestimated — returning clients keep businesses alive. Hansen believes in keeping it real. “Know what you do well; don’t try to be everything to someone because that sets you up for failure every time. Have and know your boundaries. If a client wants to work outside those boundaries, help them find another supplier.” Campbell agrees. She made a mistake some years ago with an international client: she used inaccurate language to describe the client’s industry, and it found its way to the
cost, and it may very well turn into winning results the way it did for Leon Leonwood Bean, an outdoorsman who sold rubber boots out of the basement of his brother’s apparel shop in the early 20th century. Bean reasoned that offering a money-back guarantee was a good business practice, but imagine his surprise when 90 of the first 100 pairs of boots he sold were returned. Apparently, the boots’ leather uppers separated from the rubber soles. Although it nearly “Always, always, bankrupted him to do Is the Client come with a solution. so, Bean made good on Always Right? his customer-service Never just say ‘We There’s an old saying, policy. He refunded made a mistake,’ “The customer is always the money, fixed the right.” Well, they aren’t problem and grew into but rather, ‘Hey, we always, but if there’s a one of North America’s made a mistake but problem, it doesn’t matter. most successful outdoor here’s how we are In almost all cases, it’s apparel suppliers. better to accept the client’s Best of all, the going to correct it.’” perspective and fix the company continues problem rather than risk to offer a money-back the escalation of conflict. guarantee. Though L.L. Bad feelings, negative social media write-ups Bean is long gone, his company has grown and the loss of future business are rarely worth to more than $1 billion in annual sales and the fight. is thought of as a business that keeps its When something goes off the rails, turn it promises to its clients — and fixes problems into a positive experience, regardless of the when they go wrong. ■ media and subsequently to the industry’s association. She kept it real by firing herself. Although she owned up to the error, she learned that it happened because “we allowed a client to push us too fast before we truly understood the industry. We had counselled them to wait for both our sakes, but they really wanted to get out of the gate … my gut instinct was that if we had known the industry better we would have realized the nuances a little bit better.”
We only sell what we would drive.
Victoria Premium Automobiles sells the finest pre-owned, premium quality and premium brand automobiles on Vancouver Island and beyond. Victoria Premium Automobiles Ltd. | 1859 Blanshard Street | Victoria, BC V8T 4H9 | Phone: 250-380-0581 www.victoriapremiumauto.com | Monday to Saturday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm | Sunday By Appointment Only | Dealer#31094 32 VPAFEB2017.indd Douglas
2017-02-20 3:17:35 PM
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10 gutsy new
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WINNER S H
push past the comfort zone and come out on top By Adrienne Dyer, Athena McKenzie, Shannon Moneo, Alex Van Tol
Starting a new business can knock even the most enthusiastic entrepreneurs out of their comfort zones. But as Peter F. Drucker wrote,” “In every success story, you will find someone who has made a courageous decision.” That’s true for each of this year’s 10 to Watch winners. Just two examples are Studio Robazzo who, despite their youth and business inexperience, took a big risk to create a company that changes the way we think about design, and Dr. Jennie Christensen whose scientific innovation contributed to a discovery that changed the exploration history of the North. At Douglas, we celebrate each
of our 10 to Watch winners for their courage to leave the comfort zone. Each year, our judges review scores of nominees, choosing those businesses who demonstrate sound business models, scalability, talent and market potential. Some of the Island’s most successful businesses have been 10 to Watch winners: SendtoNews, Pretio Interactive, Rumble, Flytographer, Stocksy United and Indochino are just a few. A 10 to Watch Award is a strong vote of confidence from the experts — and as every new business owner knows, having people who believe in you goes a long way toward giving you courage to succeed and grow.
10 to watch Judging Panel Clockwise, left to right: MIKE THOMPSON associate professor, management consulting, Royal Roads University | DR. REBECCA GRANT associate professor, University of Victoria, Peter B. Gustavson School of Business | DeiRdre Campbell president and chief development officer, The Tartan Group | DANIELA CUBELIC owner, Silk Road Tea | JOHN JURICIC owner, Harbour Digital Media
10 TO WATCH 2017 TITLE SPONSOR
PENiNSuLa CO-OP Celebrating 40 years ...aNd STILL 100% LOcaLLy OwNEd aNd OPERaTEd In the mid-1970’s, a small group of Saanich Peninsula residents had a powerful vision: Why not start a local Co-op where members are actually owners? This group of local people went door to door, talking about their idea and the principles of coops. They discovered that others were indeed interested, so they continued knocking on doors until they had enough members to open the first Peninsula Co-op Food Centre in May of 1977. Forty years later, Peninsula Co-op is still going strong and has grown to more than 85,000 member-owners. After their first store opened on Keating X Road in Saanichton, Peninsula Co-op ventured into the petroleum business in the early 1980’s
H O M E H E AT I N G
and began a partnership with Save-On Gas Ltd. in 1985. Today, Peninsula Co-op has 17 gas centres located between Victoria, Mill Bay, Duncan and in Comox. In April 2016, Peninsula Co-op amalgamated with the Comox Valley Co-op. The amalgamation brought in over 5,000 new member-owners, a new gas centre, cardlock location and home heating oil delivery service. Also in 2016, Peninsula Co-op opened its newest location at 10350 McDonald Park Rd. in Sidney. It’s been four decades of success, proof that when a community puts its mind to a compelling vision, great things are indeed possible.
P R O PA N E
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“Douglas’ 10 to Watch program supports new businesses and economic development on the Island, and those principles align perfectly with Peninsula Co-op’s commitment to give back to the community. In 2016, our member-owners received $4.6 million in rebates plus we donated $370,000 to local charities.”
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plan, secured a loan — and now she supplies dozens of stores and restaurants in Victoria with her manyflavoured brews. Susut handily faced the challenge of entering a market that lacked kombucha-specific knowledge and mentors. Instead she took the selftaught route, turning to beer and wine equipment and creating a fermentation set-up from scratch. Now she has four vats in the Cultured Kombucha fermentation room, and space for more. “There’s no hard science or kombucha school to go to, and no brewmasters who are willing to let you in,” she says. “It’s kind of tight-lipped at this point. It’s so new we’re all just figuring it out as we go.”
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jeffrey bosdet/Douglas magazine
Business Profile Type of business
Maker of kombucha, an ancient functional beverage made of fermented tea that contains natural probiotics. Year founded 2015 Owner/principalS
Christine Susut and Nick Wise Employees/CONTRACTORS 2 What Sets you Apart?
Our kombucha is made locally using organic ingredients, and it’s primarily sold by bulk-fill, leaving a low environmental footprint. We set up and maintain the infrastructure to serve our product on tap.
with Christine Susut of Cultured Kombucha
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given? Daniela Cubelic from Silk Road Tea has been an incredible mentor for me. The first day we met, she told me that ... being successful in business depends on how quickly you can knock the tasks off of your to-do list — because you have a huge list you just need to
get through! As soon as you can get as many of these toppriority things out of the way as possible, you can go out and grow your business. What advice would you give to someone just starting out? Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’re going to get somewhere.
Some days you feel like you didn’t do enough, but I always tell myself, “I’m just going to keep on moving.” It’s really important to know when you’re able to make a big push and when you need to ride the momentum a bit to recharge. You’re running a marathon — and you can’t sprint the whole way.
Christine Susut and Nick Wise
jeffrey bosdet/Douglas magazine
What started as a quest for a high-probiotic diet turned into a business idea for stay-at-home mum Christine Susut when she discovered kombucha, a fermented tea rich in natural probiotics. She soon began to ponder whether she could make it herself more cost-effectively and with a better taste than commercially available varieties. “I saw the potential for kombucha following in the footsteps of craft beer,” says Susut. “I immediately recognized the timing was too good not to do kombucha first.” So she started her research, sampling other people’s brews and tweaking her recipes. She took a business class, wrote a business
“The scariest thing for me was actually just starting. I had dreamed up so many businesses and never had the guts to just go for it. And for some reason, this time I did.”
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“Your business is our highest priority!” Al Hasham, President Maximum Express
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dragon head that’s just been printed on the new 3D printer. “How do you break design down and use it in a different and novel way that people aren’t expecting?” he muses aloud. “It usually ends up different from what [our clients] originally came in for.” McFadzen easily finishes his thought, as is their habit: “But they’re always happy.” The team’s magic lies in its ability to take broad problems and look at them from every angle. The result? From the cut plywood Stalagnite Installation for Westshore Arts Council to retail displays for Elate Cosmetics to the stage display for TEDx to the graphic identity for the 2017 film festival — it’s impossible to look away from Robazzo’s work. And that makes their clients very happy.
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Business Profile Type of business
Multi-faceted design firm. Year founded 2014 OwnerS/principalS
Sarah McFadzen, Christina Robev, Andrew Azzopardi Employees/CONTRACTORS
2 What Sets you Apart?
“We are incredibly diversified, from interior design to websites and graphic design to the intersection of high tech, art and design. We can provide a turnkey service for business too.”
with Sarah McFadzen of Studio Robazzo
What advice would you give to someone just starting out? Believe in the integrity of your ideas ... I believe people should have confidence in their ideas and not let naysayers bring them down. What was the scariest part of starting up? Initially, there was that feeling
of “OK, now we’re putting a bunch of money into a business endeavor and none of us have a business degree...” So what was the tipping point that made you decide you had to go for it? When you’re talking about
putting $25,000 down at age 25, that was one of those “Are we doing this?” moments. But we were at a pinch point. There was growing demand for our products — and the space and resources we needed to create those products was not sufficient. It was either grow or die.
Sarah McFadzen, Christina Robev and Andrew Azzopardi
A few short years ago, Sarah McFadzen spent her free evenings hanging out in the living room of Andrew Azzopardi and Christina Robev, sanding or gluing whatever weird or innovative project the two architects happened to be working on. By 2014, she was their business partner in Studio Robazzo, a multi-dimensional design studio that takes on everything from interior and graphic design to industrial design and prototyping. At Robazzo, design isn’t divided into siloed disciplines, nor is it anchored in the past. Typical of this innovative studio, they inform themselves of traditional design, then turn it on its head. “That’s where things get fun,” says Azzopardi who, during our interview, fiddles with the small
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Studio Robazzo “There’s a lot of noise out there. It’s like the rainforest, with a billion birds making sounds constantly. If you’re not a disrupter, how are people going to find you?”
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TV applications, plus aerial video and live web broadcasting. Their clients include the Cridge Centre For the Family, Tourism Victoria, the Victoria Symphony and Rugby Canada. Virtual reality, says Eyolfson, will be the next big thing, and Roll.Focus. also sees a big opportunity to showcase more of Victoria’s live events by bringing the television standard to live-stream space. “We also want to carve out more time for projects that we’re passionate about, like mini-documentaries for causes with an important message,” says Eyolfson. It all makes sense for a business that makes storytelling the heart of the business.
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Business Profile Type of business
Video production and digital marketing services for businesses and organizations on Vancouver Island and nationally. Year founded 2013 Owners/principals
Mike Walker and Amanda Eyolfson Employees/CONTRACTORS 2 What Sets you Apart?
Serving the small-business market with affordable, boutique video products that strike the balance between budget and value for clients.
with Mike Walker and Amanda Eyolfson of Roll.focus. productions
What advice would you give to someone just starting out? Amanda: Don’t be afraid to use your contacts to find new opportunities. Often, it really is about who you know. It’s the nature of business, and you can’t be ashamed of that. And if you have a business partner, especially if that partner is your spouse, you
must be able to complement each other, and both be wholly committed to the business. Mike: Always be aware of what’s next on the horizon and be client focused, because client recommendations are everything. Also, be realistic about the challenges you’ll
face. You must put in the hard work. What are you most proud of? Mike: Our biggest measure of success is a happy client. Our clients trust us and rely on us to showcase their brand, but we need them more than they need us. Their support is vital to our business.
Mike Walker and Amanda Eyolfson
The idea for Roll.Focus. Productions began as part of a school project when husband/wife duo Mike Walker and Amanda Eyolfson were students in BCIT’s Broadcast Journalism program. In 2013, the couple launched their videoproduction firm as a side business while Walker worked full time as a CHEK News sports anchor and Eyolfson worked as a Tourism Victoria media relations officer. Via word of mouth, their clientele grew, and Walker left CHEK in 2015 to focus on their business full time, followed by Eyolfson a year later. Today, Roll.Focus. Productions is a boutique firm, whose services include video for web, mobile and
“We combine a journalistic approach to video production and simple digital-marketing strategies to ensure the videos are seen by our clients’ target audiences.”
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SongheeS WellneSS Centre 1100 AdmirAlS roAd, ViCtoriA
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Science: Reports, which challenged the idea that explorers on the Franklin Expedition (1845-1848) died of lead poisoning. Using highly sophisticated technology, including laser ablation (her specialty), the team analyzed a thumbnail from crew member John Hartnell. They found that instead of dying of lead poisoning from canned food, he had been chronically zinc-deficient, which possibly led to weakened immunity and, ultimately, tuberculosis and death. The results changed history. Christensen now wants to impact the future, investigating large, complex environmental health issues, from animals exposed to mercury to children exposed to lead, and showing the impact in the hopes of effecting change.
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jeffrey bosdet/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
Business Profile Type of business
The only commercial laboratory in Canada to use laser ablation for biological tissues to answer questions in regard to metal exposure, nutrition and health. Year founded 2016 Owner/principal Dr. Jennie Christensen
Employees/CONTRACTORS 2 What Sets you Apart?
“I’m probably the only one in the world who’s taken an obsession with hair to research how hair can incorporate contaminants.”
with DR. Jennie Christensen of trichanalytics
What was the best business advice you ever received? This comes from a contact from the United Nations: “You’ve got the science nailed. Now you need to understand the market and determine why they want to use your resource.” What was the scariest part of starting? I had an amazing job with
Stantec, well-paying, wellrespected, great colleagues, a great future. The scariest part was taking a step away from that into the great unknown... What are you most proud of? Helping to solve the mystery of the Franklin Expedition. That is the pinnacle of my career. And if I look back to when I was a kid, what I saw for myself,
I feel like I’ve had a very happy, successful, fulfilling life. I’ve got a great family, business, education. Despite my challenges in life, I’ve persevered.
jeffrey bosdet/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
AT AGE six, Jennie Christensen was diagnosed with trichotillomania, the compulsion to pull out one’s hair. “It was very challenging to grow up with it. I hated it. I hated myself,” says Christensen, who earned her PhD in toxicology at UVic. “But I’ve turned an obsession into a research business. I took a flaw and turned it into one of my greatest strengths.” Last year she launched TrichAnalytics Inc., a game-changing business that analyzes growing biological tissues such as hair, nails or feathers for metal and elemental contaminants to determine changes in health. “I’ve always had a passion for screening, detective work and discovering why,” she says. Before TrichAnalytics, she worked with four other scientists to publish a provocative paper in the Journal of Archaeological
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TrichAnalytics “I’m fascinated by lasers, and the more I learned, the more questions I had. I could only answer the questions by becoming a university professor or starting a company.”
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What advice would you give someone just starting out? Meet and talk to as many people as you can. People want to be helpful and you need help. Douglas 43
TD Canada Trust Small Business Banking is proud to support Douglas Magazine’s 2017 10 to Watch Awards. Congratulations to this year’s 10 to Watch winners. We salute your innovation and entrepreneurship in our community.
The TD logo and other trade-marks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.
resources in mid-2015, we’d reached a crisis point,” says Mod. “But we remained positive and kept our entrepreneurial mindset. We just kept taking steps in the right direction and reached out to the community, meeting a lot of key people.” Those people included tech entrepreneur James DeGreef, founder of ChatterBlock and GenoLogics, who hired the pair for a small project and was so impressed by their quality of work that he decided to invest in their company. Since then, FreshWorks has grown to 12 employees, with plans to expand to a team of 30 or 40 by the end of 2017. With key clients such as the City of Victoria, Pet Command and the Province of BC, FreshWorks is rated by the Clutch ranking as one of Canada’s top applicationdevelopment firms.
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Business Profile Type of business
Mobile app development company for iOS and Android. Year founded 2014 Owners/principals
Samarth Mod and Rohit Boolchandani Employees/ CONTRACTORS 12 What Sets you Apart? “Dedication
to a collaborative approach for creating elegant, sophisticated apps that meet market needs.”
with Samarth Mod of Freshworks STUDIO
What was your biggest startup challenge? The pressure of trying to finish our MBAs and simultaneously start a business was enormous! Our biggest challenge was a lack of financial resources, and we didn’t understand our market or how to connect with the right people at the right time.
What are you most proud of? We’re very proud to employ talented local young people. Our team members have a strong work ethic and are passionate to learn new technology. They may not have work experience, but we see their expertise. They are just like us when we started our company.
What advice would you give someone just starting out? Understand that entrepreneurship is tough. It’s very fulfilling, but you need to accept the reality of the difficulties you will face and be prepared to accept failure. Failure is truly a mark of success. Samarth Mod and Rohit Boolchandani
When friends and business partners Samarth Mod and Rohit Boolchandani emigrated from India to attend the University of Victoria (UVic), their goals were to finish their MBAs, get good jobs while they worked on their software/app ideas and eventually join Victoria’s booming tech industry with their own startup. But when they presented their app ideas to their UVic mentor, she asked, “If you have a great idea, why not launch your business now?” “I was just 25 and still working on my degree,” says Mod. “But we realized it was a good time to jump into business.” Their first several months were fraught with challenges as the pair struggled to remain afloat financially while learning their market. “By the time we ran out of financial
“We recognized a big opportunity to build quality mobile apps for both privateand public-sector companies.”
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their condo, then got serious, wrote a business plan and moved operations to a shared commercial kitchen. Nine months ago they moved into their own 1,000-squarefoot space in Rock Bay, where they now produce handcrafted and bottled soda pop and seltzer for restaurants, food stores and, yes, the Sidney Night Market. And business is hopping. Chris has already had calls from Vancouver restaurants who are ready to partner with the company, and is primed in 2017 to roll out the sodas across a broader geographic range with the backing of their new brewing and filling machines. “This truly is the year to watch us,” he grins.
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jeffrey bosdet/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
Business Profile Type of business
Maker of handcrafted, smallbatch soda pop in 16 different flavours sweetened with cane sugar, plus a line of sugar-free seltzers. Year founded 2014 Owners/principals
Chris and Laura Verhoeven Employees/CONTRACTORS 4 What Sets you Apart? “All of our
sodas are bottled in custom-made, reusable glass bottles. Victoria Soda Works bottles are shipped here once — and they stay here. They can be used upwards of 16 times before being recycled.”
with Chris Verhoeven of victoria Soda works
What’s the biggest challenge you faced in starting your business? In the last couple years, the biggest challenge we’ve had is keeping up with the demand. When we say handcrafted soda, every bottle is crafted by hand. It’s just keeping supply up to the demand — taking on
new clients and knowing we can service them. We’re at the point now where we can take new clients and service them with our new soda machines. What are you most proud of? We didn’t have a budget to hire someone to do our logo and branding and design
a bottle for us. We did it ourselves. I would watch YouTube videos for hours to learn how to do something I wanted to do, because I’m not a designer. At the end of all that work, all those things that we did ourselves, we came up with a product that looks great on the shelves, and people enjoy it.
jeffrey bosdet/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
The first time Chris Verhoeven saw people lining up for his craftbrewed sodas was at the Sidney Night Market last summer. “That was actually the first time I got really giddy,” he says. “Laura and I were just working away, serving soda, and I looked up and there was a line that J-ed around from our booth,” he says, shaping the line with his hands. “I looked at Laura and said, ‘Oh my God, we have a LINE RIGHT NOW!’” The idea for Victoria Soda Works all started on a warm summer day when Chris found himself wishing there was a local soda-pop maker right here in Victoria. So he and his wife, Laura, started brewing small batches of soda pop for friends in
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Victoria Soda Works “It gives me goosebumps any time I see someone with a bottle of our soda. I was parking the car down on Yates last week, and someone walked by drinking one our seltzers. It’s … unreal. It’s very satisfying.”
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Chris and Laura Verhoeven
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hurt one in some way,” Lees says. Her unique training for her role as “fixer” came from her time as a journalist and as a spokesperson for the Alberta Children’s Hospital. “My background has led me to a place where I am able to help companies in their time of need,” she says. “In those two types of careers I honed my skills related to managing issues as they arise.“ It also informs her crisis-communication plans — so her clients have a step-by-step guide if anything ever goes wrong — and her media training seminars. “I was trained in a really combative way, and [the way I train my clients] is completely the opposite,” she says. “You’re going to feel comfortable and put your best face forward.”
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Business Profile Type of business
Public relations and marketing Year founded 2014 Owner/principal
Trisha Lees Employees/CONTRACTORS 2 What Sets you Apart? “Crisis
management. When it comes to preparing for and managing issues as they arise, few companies in town have the depth of experience found at Rep Lap. As the city grows and social media becomes even more prevalent, the need for this service will grow.”
with Trisha Lees of Rep Lab Communications
What was the best business advice you ever received? It’s from my dad, who said if you treat people properly, you’ll always be successful. He ran a tire business, which is completely different from what I do, but the advice works for any business. And the advice doesn’t just mean
your clients, but media, your partners or anyone. What was the scariest part of starting up? The scariest part was balancing it with my family life and making sure I was able to do it and still be there for my two little kids, who were two and five
when I started — and I’m a single parent. And because it’s public relations, the schedule can be a little tricky. What are you most proud of? My clients’ successes and being a part of getting them there.
It’s a well-known truth that a business’s survival depends on its good name, which is why Trisha Lees, owner of Rep Lab Communications, looked to this reality when choosing her own company’s moniker. “A colleague asked me to think about the impact I have for every single client and person that sits across from me,” Lees says. “And that’s reputation.” While the majority of Lees’ work is focused on “enhancing reputation” and raising the good profile of a business or service, 30 to 40 per cent of her time is dedicated to managing issues and crises that affect businesses or individuals. “In that case, it’s really managing a reputation at a time that might not be one’s glory hour and has the potential to
“It’s difficult to teach expertise in issues and crisis management; it’s about experience.”
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Rep Lab Communications
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Ambition. Bring us yours. Innovation. We encourage it.
Congratulations to all inside the innovators dug a little deeper, stayed upcohort-based a little You have great things you. Let who the transformative power of our later and wouldn’t let good enough be quite enough. You’re this year’s 10 To Watchwith learning model put your work and life experience to great use. You’ll collaborate winners. It’s your big ideas and passion that make the Island an exciting place to and like-minded, industry-leading peers every step of the way in an applied, practical live and work.platform And we can all learn Ifa you’re little something yourstep example. Maybe personalized for success. ready for from the next in your career, and at a guest lecture? Seriously. Give us a call. life, let’s talk. We see great things ahead. 1.877.778.6227 || royalroads.ca royalroads.ca 1.877.778.6227
was sitting on a small-business gold mine. “I got a lot of practical advice, mentorship and camaraderie from them,” he says. “So I’m sitting in the meeting and thinking about all the input and value I get from the group and I thought, ‘I wonder how other smallbusiness people get this sort of advice and feedback and support?’” And SOHO Victoria was born. Now in its second year, the conference acts like a networking and mentorship intensive for small and home-based business owners, bringing people with a range of wisdom together, including those starting out and wanting to grow. With two successful years of SOHO Victoria behind him, Burdge now hopes to expand to other locations in Western Canada.
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Business Profile Type of business
Conference and networking for small companies and home-based businesses. Year founded 2015 Owner/principal
Chris Burdge Employees/CONTRACTORS
1 What Sets you Apart?
SOHO Victoria is an annual one-day event that includes speakers, workshops, round-table discussions and one-on-one expert adviser sessions to help small and home offices grow their businesses.
with Chris Burdge of Soho Victoria
What advice would you give to someone just starting out? Whatever your idea is, go out and talk to people about it, get feedback and then just do it. The other thing that goes along with that is … the idea of not wanting to perfect something. There’s a saying in software
development that “good enough is sometimes good enough.” It’s better to be in market with a product than [satisfying] the need for it to be perfect. I don’t spend a lot of time continuing to polish things. Sometimes it’s better to just get it out there and go on to the next thing.
What are you most proud of? I’ve developed a few things. Social Media Camp is the biggest social media conference in Canada now. Some of the stuff I hear coming out of it is inspiring: like at the very first one we did, somebody got a job. I like stuff like that, when I hear that good things happen for people.
Chris Burdge founder of the SOHO (Small Office Home Office) Victoria Conference, knows about the challenges of running a small business. Nine years ago, he launched the Internet marketing company bWest Interactive and turned it into a success. But while he excelled at marketing and social media, things like accounting and bookkeeping made him want to stuff his head in the sand and hope it all went away. “But it doesn’t,” says Burdge, who also co-founded Social Media Camp. Then, a couple of years ago, Burdge was meeting with his networking group — consisting of himself, a lawyer, an accountant, an IT specialist and people representing several other business domains — when it struck him that he
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Soho victoria “There are people in the world who just do what happens to them. And there are other people who make their lives happen. I like to create and build things.”
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group, she determined what products people wanted to see in her range of skincare and body care. “The ‘recipes’ are so simple you could do it yourself, but each ingredient is of such high quality you could not make it at the same price point,” Foster says. Ingredients are simple, recognizable and often edible, and Miiko Skin Co.’s website proudly lists local suppliers such as Spinnakers Gastro BrewPub (apple cider vinegar) and Olive the Senses (olive oil). “Each product uses ingredients from suppliers in B.C., including them as part of the brand,” Foster says. “It is about supporting local beyond the brand — the parts and ingredients that make a local product what it is. So at each level of production we are supporting a local economy.”
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Business Profile Type of business
Natural skincare. Year founded 2015 Owner/ principal
Kimiko Foster Employees/ CONTRACTORS 5 What Sets you Apart?
“Our focus on local, the transparencywith customers about our ingredients, our educational outreach and our dedication to internal sustainability.”
with Kimiko Foster of Miiko Skin Co.
What was the best business advice you ever received? Two things. The first is that the biggest mistake entrepreneurs and startups often make is that they grow so fast that, whether they succeed or fail, they can’t look back at the systems and process and understand the thread. And second, if your
employees make mistakes and they are the right person for the job, it is a training issue.
the psychological factors of choosing prices … to selecting the margins necessary.
What was your biggest startup challenge? Setting the pricing for all my products — from the entrepreneurial fear of losing customers to
What advice would you give to someone just starting out? Know your passion and your vision, but let your customers shape your products and services.
Kimiko Foster’s passion for natural skincare grew out of an alarming discovery she made while pursuing her environmental studies degree at the University of Victoria — most of the cleansers and lotions we use to care for our skin actually contain toxins and unregulated ingredients, she says. “The skin is our body’s largest organ,” Foster says. “Many of us watch what we eat and care about the food we digest, but what about the ingredients we ingest through our skin?” Her first business, Seeds of Change, focused on leading community DIY workshops on making effective and environmentally friendly skincare and household products. But at those workshops, Foster was hearing the demand for ready-to-buy. Using her workshop participants as her first Miiko Skin Co. focus
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Miiko Skin Co. “Miiko Skin Co. is about creating safe skincare products with highquality artisan ingredients from local suppliers, and delivering them with education.”
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Western Canada. Then, in 2000, Coté moved to the Island, switching from franchisor to franchisee, opening three M&M stores in a year and a half. When the Royal Oak store opened, projections for that year were $900,000. “We did $1.7 million because the market was ready,” says Coté. But by the time her kids were in their early teens, Coté felt an entrepreneurial restlessness rising. “People were coming to me in my network, saying, ‘So-and-so wants to franchise their business; would you meet with them?” So she did some coaching to clarify her path and launched into the world of consulting. Now firm in her direction, Coté is thankful to be able to carry on the M&M legacy in a way that truly resonates with her strengths and passions.
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WINNE R H
Business Profile Type of business
Franchise consultant and business-growth specialist. Year founded 2015 Owner/principal
Angela Coté Employees/CONTRACTORS
0 What Sets you Apart?
“I grew up with the M&M Meat Shops brand. My father is the founder. I have an extensive background as a franchise consultant and as a franchisee for M&M.”
with Angela Coté of Angela Coté Consulting
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given? It’s from Brené Brown: “Comparison is the thief of happiness.” When I decided I wanted to be a franchise consultant and talked to others in the industry, it became clear to me they had this vision of what 54 Douglas
a franchise consultant does. I became nervous, thinking, “I don’t know if I can do that.” But you have to realize that we all have our different strengths and talents. I firmly believe that if I use my strengths and talents that I can help people in the best way for them.
What’s the biggest challenge you faced starting out? Figuring out how to deliver my services. I had all this knowledge, but I had to turn it into a tangible format. [Entrepreneur] Marie Forleo says nothing ever got done by just sitting around thinking about it, so I thought, “Ok, I’m just going to go out there and do it ...”
when she was five, Angela Coté was hard at work in the back of her parents’ Kitchener, Ontario shop, sticking labels on boxes. It was the beginning of M&M Meat Shops (now M&M Food Market), a successful franchise whose legacy Coté carries forward today in her own business, Angela Coté Consulting. Her mission: to help business owners convert to the franchise model and to help established franchisors find areas of opportunity to take growth to the next level. It’s something she’s very familiar with, and she learned from one of the best. Her father, Mac Voisin started M&M Food Market in 1980 and it grew to as many as 450 locations across Canada. After working in the business and completing a business degree, Coté moved to Vancouver in the late 90s to develop the franchise across
“My dad always said to me, ‘You’re going to have to work twice as hard as other people, because they’ll be watching you.’ He set me up to work hard.”
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Angela Coté Consulting
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M A G A Z I N E’S
Thank you M A G A Z I N E’S
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COURIER, FREIGHT & LOGISTICS
PIERS HENWOOD Artist manager at Amelia Artists and guitarist for Astrocolor and, previously, Jets Overhead.
Record producer and audio engineer at Creative Hive Labs. Won a Juno for work on Dan Mangan’s album Oh Fortune and won Producer of the Year at the 2016 Western Canadian Music Awards.
DYLAN WILLOWS Morning Zone D.J. at The Zone 91.3 and co-owner of Sugar NightClub.
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
Artist manager for Blue Heron Music, which manages Current Swell, Jesse Roper and Band of Rascals. Played with Ragtime Millionaires, A Particular Wave and Noises from the Toolshed.
ALMOST UNDER THE RADAR, VICTORIA HAS BECOME A HUB FOR CONCERT PROMOTERS, RECORDING STUDIOS AND MUSICIANS WITH A UNIQUE WEST COAST SOUND, AND GIGS SUCH AS THE WESTERN MUSIC AWARDS. DOUGLAS TALKS TO THE PEOPLE BEHIND OUR REGION’S CREATIVE MUSIC ECONOMY.
jesse roper DIMITRI DEMERS Co-founder of Atomique Productions, producers of Rifflandia Festival, Rock the Shores and Phillips Backyard Weekender, and which won a 2015 Western Canadian Music Award for Talent Buyer of the Year.
Musician, known for his blues-rooted soul, rock and country; currently recording a follow-up to 2015’s Red Bird, which was up for best blues recording at the West Coast Music Awards.
Jocelyn Greenwood President of Cordova Bay Entertainment and former bassist for Jets Overhead.
Electric City Sound’s control room
An easy way to measure the vitality of Victoria’s music industry is just to check out the concert posters on street corners and community boards: Current Swell, Kathryn Calder, Jon and Roy, Aidan Knight, Kelby MacNayr ... the diversity of local talent is remarkable. But while talent tends to pull the spotlight, much of the actual business is happening behind the scenes. Ask around and you’ll discover the heart of Victoria’s music industry currently beats in the old Scotia Bank building at the corner
of Douglas and Yates. Outside the building, a colourful mural flows across old marble; inside, gold records, industry awards, gig posters and framed albums adorn the walls — yet the comfy couches and casual atmosphere reflect a relaxed Victoria vibe. This is the home of Atomique Productions. Co-founded by Nick Blasko and Dimitri Demers back in 2000, Atomique has transformed Victoria’s music scene — and, arguably, the city itself — with top-draw festivals Rifflandia,
Rock the Shores and the Phillips Backyard Weekender. But Atomique also presents more than 150 other concerts annually and produces community events like the Inner Harbour Canada Day celebration, downtown’s Car Free days, and the recent Spirit of 150 First Night gala. “Music in Victoria has definitely turned a corner,” says Blasko. “It’s blossomed from a scene we’ve had for years into a local industry that’s there to support people. And it’s all based Douglas 57
on a dream — that we can have an industry here that’s just as robust and important and relevant as what’s going on all over the world.” Enthusiastic without being evangelistic, Blasko sees the growth of the local music industry as a combination of team effort and hard work, supported by local radio (“look at the contributions of The Zone and The Q, right back to the Rocktoria series”), promoters and managers (“they’ve helped build local superstars”) and the artists themselves (“Victoria bands often outperform touring artists”). “Work, investment, dedication, belief . . . all this has gone into it,” he says. “A lot of people made a bet on Victoria years ago — whether consciously or not — and decided this is worth working for.” Blasko’s view of the local music industry clearly mirrors Atomique’s signature event Rifflandia, celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017. “Rifflandia has really been a big investment in the city, in its future,” he says. “Trying to get something off the ground that has permanence, legacy and sustainability has been difficult, but worth it.” But it’s not just Atomique making Victoria into a viable music hub. That same old bank building is home to Blue Heron Music, which handles a range of local talent, including Jon
one,” says Henwood. “Victoria and Roy, Current Swell and Jesse has record labels, management Roper. It’s also the headquarters companies, concert promoters, of Amelia Artists, managers of artists, clubs, venues and media Canadian music A-listers Tegan coverage — all of that builds an and Sara and Buck 65. industry.” Looking out over one Radio DJ Dylan Willows of downtown’s busiest agrees: “We’re punching way intersections, Piers Henwood’s above our weight.” After 13 office feels like a spot where years with The Zone @ 91.3 anything could happen. Forget six degrees of — longtime supporters of local Henwood, Amelia’s president separation — most music — Willows has deep and co-founder (along with people and initiatives in roots in the scene: not only Blasko), is the Juno- and Victoria’s music industry did he grow up here, but he’s Grammy-nominated manager connect directly to Atomique Productions’ also the organizer of the FM of Tegan and Sara, whose Nick Blasko, widely station’s Band of the Month and LEGO Movie hit “Everything is seen as an energetic, one of the new co-owners of Awesome” made it all the way to passionate advocate for the local music scene. downtown’s Sugar nightclub. the Oscars. “Almost all of Victoria’s events “A lot of the people I deal are locally produced,” he says. “We don’t have with day to day are either in L.A., New York or out-of-town promoters coming in and producing Toronto — still the three big industry capitals — our festivals ... as far as where the money is so clearly, you can have a music career here,” coming from and where the money is staying — he says. “Tegan and Sara weren’t looking for a and the people who are putting time and effort big-city manager; they wanted something left and energy into it — that’s all local.” of centre and they’ve never asked us to leave Just downstairs from The Zone in The Q Victoria.” building on Quadra Street is Cordova Bay Records. Best known as a record label for acts Keeping the Local Music Industry Local like David Gogo and Acres of Lions, Cordova “Our music industry is small, but we do have Bay is also a music publisher with partnerships
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with U.K. indie label Fierce Panda (which first signed Coldplay), Cadence Music Group (Mother Mother) and Volume (City and Colour). “That’s unique in these parts,” says Cordova Bay Entertainment president Jocelyn Greenwood, former bassist for Jets Overhead. “The bigger picture is how local bands are finding a way to put Victoria on the map without having to move away. The digital reach is much easier now.” Rocking the Shores One of the challenges facing the industry is the lack of a unified voice. Without the equivalent of something like the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission, no one can put a specific dollar value on the industry. “We haven’t been able to grasp the overall impact,” says the City of Victoria’s music and film liaison Darb Erickson. “But as far as direct cultural impact on residents and tourists, I’d say music is at the top of the list ...” Even without an industry voice, there are some key figures to consider. Back in 2015, Victoria hosted the trifecta of Rifflandia, the Western Canadian Music Awards and the BreakOut West industry conference, all in the same week. Together, they exceeded initial economic-impact expectations with $5.8 million in spending and nearly 2,500 hotel bookings. Music tourism is another good indicator. While Atomique alone sells 75,000 tickets annually, high-profile up-Island festivals (MusicFest, Sunfest, Tall Tree, Rock of the Woods, Atmosphere) add to the diversity of our creative economy. And Atomique has hosted visiting industry representatives at their events, welcoming organizers from the likes of the Pemberton, Squamish and Bumbershoot festivals, as well as promoters from LiveNation and Toronto’s Arts & Crafts label, among others. ”We don’t have an isolated island mentality anymore, because people know what’s happening here,” notes Greenwood. “The key people here have the creativity, diligence and ability to nurture the local industry and nurture local talent.” The Zone’s Willows agrees. “Of the 10,000 people who went to Rifflandia, how many realize it was produced by a couple of dudes who went to Vic High?” If you Build It, Will They Come? But any creative economy needs more than talent and enthusiasm; it also needs backstage talent. For 33 years, DL Sound has been providing local sound and lighting systems for clients ranging from The Butchart Gardens and SaveOn Foods Memorial Centre to the Alix Goolden Hall, Rifflandia and the Douglas 10 to Watch gala. When it comes to staffing these events, “it’s pretty much all locals,” says DL president Doug Lyngard. “It’s really a matter of keeping the qualified people busy.” Douglas 59
The story at Pacific Audio Works (PAW) is slightly different. “When the company was founded [in 1993], we were carrying out far more local music productions than we currently are,” says sales manager Rob Mayor. “We used to be about 70 per cent production/rentals and 30 per cent sales, and now those numbers have reversed.” While PAW’s full-time rental and production staff remains constant for the roughly 200 events and productions they handle annually, their installations staff has tripled over the last decade. Clients now range from the Royal and the Belfry to UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium and hotels (the Empress, Ocean Pointe), churches, rec centres and private residences. “We’ve seen a good return on our investment, especially in projector and screen video systems, temporary power installations for festival sites and LED lighting,” says Mayor, noting that updating of old analogue systems in the government and education sectors has led to a “major overhaul” in the industry over the last decade.
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A Very Current Swell To better support the province’s creative industries, the provincial government established Creative BC in 2013. In February 2016, Creative BC announced the BC Music Fund to channel $15 million into the music industry, with an anticipated GDP impact of $73 million. Originally planned as a $500,000 matching-fund pilot program, a further $3 million was injected into B.C.’s sound recording industry this past December. That translated into new recording projects for a host of local artists, including Jon and Roy, Current Swell, Jesse Roper, Carmanah and Band of Rascals — all represented by Blue Heron Music and all recorded at Vancouver’s famed Warehouse Studio (owned by one of B.C.’s biggest music successes: Bryan Adams). Blue Heron’s Stephen Franke doesn’t see any issue with recording in Vancouver, since the BCMF is a province-wide initiative; instead, he
sees a double benefit in putting B.C. bands into B.C. studios. “The more money we can bring back into the province, the better the industry will be,” he says. “The whole point of the fund is to build the sector so it’s a more sustainable entity that will grow.” B.C.’s overall music industry currently contributes over $400 million in annual revenue to the provincial economy, and 2017 is set to be a big year for growing the industry: the BC Music Fund will be making further financial investments in live music, B.C. artists, music company development, research, innovation and more. (Notable on the BCMF Advisory Committee? Atomique’s Nick Blasko.) “It’s very much an economic play, not a creative play — which is fine, because we can handle the creative side,” says Cordova Bay’s Greenwood. “But it’s not an easy business, so any government funding is very welcome.” The Hive is Buzzing Hive Creative Labs, one of Greater Victoria’s few professional recording studios, is also benefitting from the BC Music Fund. Transplanted from the mainland to Sidney in 2013, Hive is run by Juno-winning producer and recording engineer Colin Stewart. Originally from Victoria, Stewart spent nearly 20 years in Vancouver specializing in indie acts like Dan Mangan, Yukon Blonde and The New Pornographers — the last of which features his wife, local singer-songwriter Kathryn Calder. Branding itself as a destination studio, Hive’s rates are kept low — just $500 a day, compared to the industry average of $850 to $1,200 a day — which means bands can afford to record here, even with travel costs. “There are some bands I’ll now be able to work with because of the BCMF — including two local bands.” While Victoria is home to other smaller recording studios — Infiniti, Electric City — Stewart is quick to praise Victoria’s other main professional recording facility: Joby Baker’s Baker Studios, home to projects by the likes of the Cowboy Junkies, Alex Cuba, Mae Moore
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Behind the Sound Scottish actor David Tennant of Gracepoint and Dr. Who fame has recorded at Electric City Sound. So have the people from Amazing Race Canada. Ditto for Matt Thaler, a Grammy awardwinning record producer and drummer. But unless you’re a musicindustry insider, chances are you don’t know about this worldclass recording studio tucked away in a semi-industrial Victoria neighbourhood.
by KERRY SLAVENS
For eight years, the studio has been the brainchild of Matt Gibbs, owner/mix engineer/ producer/composer whose space attracts clients from as far away as the U.K. and New Zealand, all seeking that perfect sound space for albums, film and TV work and even video games. The 2,500-square-foot stateof-the-art facility, designed by a professional acoustics designer, is a steady draw for music, film and TV pros, some of whom
like to combine their work obligations with a vacation in a top destination like Victoria. And, says Gibbs, Electric City Sound offers the same quality as an L.A. or New York studio at a much better price point.
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and The Bills. And he’s happy about any initiative that boosts the music sector. “I really hope this isn’t a one-shot deal,” Stewart says of the BC Music Fund. “We haven’t really been investing in the arts in B.C. and it would be nice to see that happening again.” When it comes to further integrating music into Victoria’s creative economy, the City of Victoria’s Darb Erickson points to the Arts and Culture Master Plan now in progress. “We’re going to be talking to the music community specifically,” he says. “Even if one of the outcomes of our master plan is as simple
as ‘develop a music strategy,’ that would be enough of a push.” “The City’s doing all the right things when it comes to supporting music — it’s gotten a lot better in recent years,” says Amelia’s Henwood. “Less bureaucracy in general is always helpful.” Everything is Awesome The inherent cost of exporting and importing artists aside, all agree Victoria’s main issue is a lack of live venues. One solution is to put more music in non-traditional venues — the top of the Yates Street parkade or Capital Iron’s
Behind Those Gig Posters
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You’ve seen the utitlity poles taped up with posters advertising local music gigs. Behind many of these posters is one of the city’s most interesting success stories: Metropol Industries. Started in 2003 by Steve Webb with a Monk Office copy card and a roll of packing tape, Metropol has grown from a one-man service into a printing enterprise with a staff of 20 in five locations
across Greater Victoria. As it turns out, the music industry was Metropol’s gateway to growth. “We’re still involved in the music scene, but it’s mostly a gateway to working with other companies,” says Webb, whose client list ranges from small businesses and restaurants to Phillips Brewery. Metropol is just one spinoff of the local creative economy.
parking lot — to enhance downtown’s vibe. “If we can make that happen more often, we’d be a highly sought-after destination,” says Greenwood. Atomique’s Blasko admits it can be difficult to plan too far ahead. “The landscape is exponentially shifting with all the development downtown — a parking lot today could be a 10-storey building a year from now — so we have to think differently about where our venues are going to be and how to balance that with development,” he says. “But part of the industry’s strength is being nimble and reacting to things in real time.” Others point to pairings between Victoria’s other booming sectors: food and beverage (think Phillips Backyard Weekender) and tech. “I know quite a few musicians at local tech companies ... they’re making good money, which they invest in their art,” says the Hive’s Stewart. Ultimately, the key to Victoria’s music industry seems to rest in our own hands, whether that’s supporting existing events, embracing new ideas or nurturing the next generation. “We’re doing some great things with what we’ve got,” says Henwood. “As you get older, you look for meaning in life in different ways, and there’s great meaning in supporting people in your own backyard.” ■
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Four Greater Victoria business owners reveal what they learned from the long and painful journey of rebuilding after a devastating fire. | by Keith Norbury
SURVIVING the Fire
bout 3 a.m. on January 20, 2015, Brad Olberg received a call from his alarm company that something was amiss at his restaurant, Cafe Mexico, in Victoria’s historic Market Square. The alarm reading suggested it was merely a dead battery, so rather than rush down, Olberg decided to stick with his routine and head to work at the usual time. “So I showed up that morning at 6 a.m. to the five fire trucks and the smoke,” Olberg recalls. “It was heart-wrenching.” The fire heavily damaged Cafe Mexico, which Olberg had established 29 years earlier, as well as MexiGo, a takeout restaurant he had opened only 18 months before. Smoke and water also damaged other businesses in the building, including Pacific Rim College and Paboom Home Imports. Some of the businesses, like Paboom, were back in business within two weeks. Cafe Mexico didn’t reopen until 20 months after the fire. It took a year before the insurers gave the green light to begin renovating the main restaurant, Olberg says. But a saving grace was that he received approval much sooner to repair MexiGo’s space and repurpose it with expanded seating as a Latin breakfast spot that he renamed Fuego — Spanish for “fire.” “Because we had to basically self-preserve ourselves and be able to function, we had to get this open while [Cafe Mexico] was being renovated,” Olberg says. Nothing prepared him for how long it would take. He and Market Square property manager Kim Harrap attributed those delays to various factors, including the age of the building and the multiple insurers — tenants and property owner — involved. “Nobody wins in a fire situation,” Harrap says. “That includes neighbouring tenants unscathed by the blaze. “It takes a toll on everybody because all of a sudden people see a charred-out facade and they hesitate before they come,” she adds. Biggest Expense is Being Closed After a fire ravaged Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub in Victoria West on November 23, 2016, owner Paul Hadfield didn’t wait for his insurer to cut him a cheque. He paid for the remediation and renovations himself. By doing so, the mainfloor dining area reopened just four weeks after the fire — even as a crew from Downs Construction was still working in a sealed-off area of the second floor to repair the charred roof of the century-old building that had
undergone extensive renovations in 1984 during its conversion into Victoria’s first brewpub. “What was very clear to me was that the most expensive part of the whole process was being closed,” Hadfield says during a tour of the reconstruction in mid-January. “When you lose your revenue flows, that’s when your costs really become significant and then you still have all of your other costs going on.” Hadfield even continued to pay his employees during the closure so long as they chipped in with the restoration efforts. He soon discovered that his staff of 85 included people who had previously worked as tile setters, drywallers and cabinet makers. “We needed them to not have to be further traumatized than they were by the process,” Hadfield says. “We needed them to not be walking down the street looking for a job. We needed their help to put the place back together. And we needed their help once we had it back together to make it operational again.”
Nobody wins in a fire situation.
That includes neighbouring tenants unscathed by the blaze. It takes a toll on everybody because all of a sudden people see a charred out facade and they hesitate before they come.” Cafe Mexico’s Olberg wasn’t able to do that. By the time Protege Developments started its renovation work on Cafe Mexico, a year had passed, and most of its employees had found other work, some of them at Fuego. “Pretty much every one of them wanted to come back or would have come back if it was a time frame that was acceptable,” Olberg says. “But most of them had to move on. I figured it was going to be a six-month rebuild.” He also thought initially that his one year of loss-of-business insurance would carry him through the rebuilding. But it expired eight months before the work was done. Had he known it was going to take so long, he might have considered relocating. “But everything I looked at didn’t have close to the character that I could have created in here with the walls ... And I knew this place. So that wasn’t really an option,” Olberg says.
So he sunk some of his own money into the renovation and reimagined Cafe Mexico with the help of good friend Peter Waldhuber, owner of Protege Developments. Primarily a house builder, Waldhuber hadn’t done an afterfire renovation before. He encountered a few surprises. “Once we got into the demolition portion of it, we found that in the floor joist system there was [evidence of] an even older fire that nobody really had any record about,” Waldhuber says. Insurance Money Takes Years to Arrive Accent Inns also seized the opportunity to reenvision the restaurant attached to its location on Maple Street in Saanich after a fire levelled what was then ABC Country Restaurant in April 2013. It still took two years to rebuild the structure “and then the even more frustrating part was it took a good three years to get the insurance money,” says Mandy Farmer, president and CEO of Accent Inns. She attributed part of the delay to the decision not to rebuild a 1986 structure but create a modern two-storey annex with the top floor serving as the hotel chain’s head office. Farmer also decided to bring in a local brand, Bin 4 Burger Lounge, as the tenant. “So it’s just a substantially different building and because of that there were complexities with the insurance claim,” Farmer says. Farmer recalls the fire vividly. After her phone rang around midnight — “never a good sign” — she drove immediately down to the hotel to see the restaurant in flames. “It was gut-wrenching and extremely scary because of course I was concerned about the welfare of our guests,” Farmer says. Luckily, by the time she arrived her staff had evacuated the guests and had everything under control. “They were amazing.” A phone call also alerted Hadfield to the fire at Spinnakers. He was on vacation in Maui when he received a call from his daughter Kala, a brewer at the pub. Fearing the call was bad news about another daughter, Carly, who was then travelling in Mexico, Hadfield was actually relieved to hear the news was merely his business had caught fire. “She kept telling me, ‘Dad, it’s bad. It’s really bad.’ But then the reality is you can fix things,” Hadfield says. The Spinnakers fire happened in broad daylight just after lunchtime. Had it occurred after hours, it could easily have involved the
whole building before it was detected. Capt. Brad Sifert of the Victoria Fire Department says the fire started when heat from the second-floor fireplace seeped through the firebox, which had become degraded over time, and into voids in the timbers below. He deemed the fire accidental, saying even a chimney sweep would not likely have detected the wear and tear on the firebox. The main floor fireplace “looked like it was subject to failure as well,” Sifert adds. No wonder the renovated Spinnakers won’t have any fireplaces despite Hadfield being a huge fan of them. But installing new ones would have been time-consuming and delayed the reopening. So he opted for a broader “unobstructed panorama” of the waterfront that more guests will be able to enjoy. Commercial Fires Attract Attention Commercial building fires aren’t frequent in Victoria, but they aren’t rare either. In the last dozen years at least a dozen highprofile business fires have made headlines. “I think that what happens with the business fires is they get a lot of attention,” says Victoria Fire Department Lieut. Megan Sabell. “So it seems that they’re more prevalent because those are the ones you’re really hearing about.” Such attention-getters have included a fire at Frank Whites Dive Store on Douglas Street in February 2006, and a blaze that levelled the Lumberworld store on Quadra Street in Saanich less than four months later. The latter was back in the news last fall when the building’s owner asked for changes to a restrictive covenant that requires Lumberworld to dismantle its main building — erected as a temporary structure after the fire — by 2019. Dave Flaig, an owner-director of Lumberworld, declined to comment on the
Before and After
Tips for Preventing and Dealing with Fire Before the Fire
• Make sure you’re properly covered,
says Darwyn Stickle, president of Coast Claims, an independent Victoria-based insurance adjusting firm. “Many insurance policies have a co-insurance clause, which essentially says that if you’re not insured to the full value of your property, your settlement will be reduced accordingly, making you, in effect, your own ‘co-insurer,’” Stickle says.
• Don’t skip on business-interruption
insurance, Stickle says. A year of such coverage might not be enough, as Cafe Mexico owner Brad Olberg discovered when it took 20 months to rebuild his restaurant.
• Business interruption insurance often
includes provisions to pay management and key staff, says Jay Tuson, CEO of Victoria-based Megson FitzPatrick Insurance Services. A company can also purchase ordinary payroll insurance to cover other staff. “But typically you
wouldn’t be able to add that on for a very long period of time,” Tuson says.
• Keep good records and back up your data in a safe, secure place, Stickle says. “Having it readily available will definitely make things easier.” • Install security cameras. A Cafe Mexico camera captured images that showed the fire started because a burner switch had accidentally been bumped on, which ignited a pot of oil. That eliminated any suspicion that the fire was set deliberately. • Hold regular fire drills, says Mandy Farmer, president and CEO of Accent Inns. That way, when a fire does happen, staff know immediately how to respond and can react quickly to alert the fire department and evacuate customers. • Don’t be complacent, says Lieut. Megan Sabell, an inspector with the Victoria Fire Department who investigated the Cafe Mexico blaze.
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Following the Fire
• Report the loss to your broker as
soon as possible, Stickle says. “The faster the recovery process starts, the faster it will go.”
• Do what you can to mitigate the
loss, Stickle advises. For example, protect any undamaged property, make sure the premises are secured and keep records of all your expenses.
That means, for example, keeping passageways clear, ensuring fire extinguishers are up-to-date — and avoiding the overuse of power bars, extension cords and splitters — especially in older buildings.
• Similarly, commercial businesses with fireplaces should have them inspected each year for wear and tear, as well as have them cleaned frequently, says Victoria Fire Department Capt. Brad Sifert.
• Commercial kitchens should pay
• Pay it forward by supporting your community, says Paul Hadfield, owner of Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub, whose business closed for four weeks after a fire in November 2016. “And what we have witnessed here is a community saying thank you and returning the favour,” Hadfield says.
close attention to modern standalone frying systems. They have “a horrendous maintenance schedule on the filters” that can cause grief if not followed properly. “So it’s all about maintenance and learning your systems,” Sabell says.
• If a business can afford it, it’s OK to get to work on the restoration effort before the insurer settles the claim. “Anything that a business owner does out of their own pocket that is going to speed up the process and get the business open quicker would be covered basically by the insurance company even if they don’t have the coverage — because it’s going to reduce the amount of money that they’re going to have to pay for the claim basically,” Tuson says. • Pay your employees to help with
the restoration effort, as Paul Hadfield of Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub did. That way they remain invested in the company and don’t have to seek other employment. Without that continuity,
“we’re into a much, much different process of trying to put the place back together and open the doors again,” Hadfield says. “And all of those interpersonal relationships would be gone.”
• Be resilient by realizing that your work routine now has a new to-do list, says Karl Ullrich, owner of Oak Bay Bicycles. “It’s a stress test,” Ullrich says. “If there are other issues at play, then it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.” However, he adds later that “if the business has a decent foundation and it’s being operated in a motivated and disciplined manner, and you’ve got your ducks in a row with regards to insurance etc., you’re probably going to be OK.” • “Be nice to your adjuster!” Stickle says. The adjuster’s goals are the same as yours: “to get you properly compensated and quickly back on your feet.”
• And be patient. “Especially in
the weeks immediately following a fire, things seem to proceed at a frustratingly slow pace, which is often related to safety and health regulations,” Stickle says.
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matter when contacted by Douglas, reiterating what he had told the Times Colonist last September about not wanting to risk upsetting councillors. Authorities consider the Lumberworld fire to be arson, and police are still looking for new information, says Sgt. Jereme Leslie, public information officer for Saanich Police. The ABC Country Restaurant fire was also arson, and while that file is no longer active it could be revived should new evidence come to light. Lessons Learned Arson is also suspected in a June 2003 fire that destroyed a two-storey Oak Bay commercial building that was just a few weeks from completion of its construction. Owner Karl Ullrich was getting ready to relocate his Oak Bay Bicycles shop and welcome other business tenants into the building when a few weeks before Halloween it went up in flames. To this day, he hasn’t learned the cause. The suspicion is kids playing with fireworks were to blame. “It’s a severe gut shock because you’re always planning for tomorrow, next week, next month,” Ullrich says. “And if you’re in business, and your building is about to be completed, you’re thinking about things like how do I market my opening sale, how do I get the product in there looking good, how do I get my place staffed? … And then in the space of a few hours you have a new assignment.” A bright spot is that even though all that was saved was the foundation, it took about 30 per cent less time to construct the building the second time around. The affected businesses were also all able to survive the six-month rebuild. In Ullrich’s case, he was able to keep operating at the premises he had been renting because it was still available. But what none of them could recoup were the months of lost opportunities to grow their businesses in a brand-new setting. “And you don’t get paid for the stress and the energy,” Ullrich says. “As we all know, that doesn’t just exist from 9 to 5 at work.” For Ullrich, the lesson that a disaster can strike remains fresh in his mind nearly 14 years later. “We all think we know that shit can happen. So I really, really know that it can happen,” Ullrich says. “But I actually don’t do anything different knowing that.” Were a fire to strike again, he suspects he’d be even more resilient than he was the last time, though. “I know it’s not going to kill you — probably not going to kill you.” Similarly, Brad Olberg says he learned a lot from the mental wear and tear of rebuilding Cafe Mexico about how to deal with his emotions. He also learned to keep on top of building codes, as well as what parts of the reconstruction he would do differently. But most of all, he learned he never wants to deal with fire damage ever again. ■
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[business intelligence ]
Go ahead, take a leap
Is seasonal investing the right strategy for you?
How to build your startup playbook
jeffrey bosdet/douglas magazaiznine
Our growth columnist points to Josée Lalonde (pictured) and Murray Cuff of The HOUSSE as small business owners taking smart risks. Their company — a rental resource for home stagers — invested in significant inventory and custom software.
Growth by Clemens Rettich
Go Ahead, Take a Leap A recent Deloitte report said, “Most Canadian businesses — nearly 90 percent — lack courage, and the country’s economy is suffering as a result.” It’s a strong statement in what should have been a strong report, but our columnist begs to differ, and he offers some stronger advice.
was looking forward to reading the recently released Deloitte report, provocatively called The future belongs to the bold: Canada needs more courage. The idea of a $38-billion global accounting firm like Deloitte commenting on a big idea like courage is seductive. I loved the company’s 2012 report Scaling Edges, so this time I lit the hearth, poured a wee dram and settled in for a good read. Boy, was I disappointed.
Between the scolding tone in a document three times too long, the report was a struggle. Deloitte also failed to show a causal relationship between the performance of Canadian business and a lack of courage. Thank goodness for the whisky. For all that, the report raises valid red flags. First among those is risk aversion among Canadian small-business owners. A couple of years ago I facilitated a series of sectoral round tables for a mid-sized B.C.
city. One of the sectors was main-street retail. The day was depressing. We spent the morning listening to business owners complaining about employees, competitors, suppliers, government (at every level) and even customers. In fact, it was customers who took the biggest hit: “Why don’t they shop local? Why do they buy online? Why don’t they support us?” The four facilitators and advisers in the room tried to nudge the owners from blame to change. We talked about taking risks, investing in new technologies, new ways of thinking. But they weren’t buying it. Yes, change is risky and blame is safe. We can’t guarantee new management practices will grow our businesses. We can’t guarantee investigating new markets in social marketing, app-based customer support or e-commerce platforms will grow our businesses. Douglas 69
We can, however, guarantee that if we don’t take risks, business will stagnate or fail. Competitors will delight our customers with better-trained staff or more helpful websites. Growth will stall because we are working in a saturated market. We simply can’t grow without risk.
For its report, released in the fall of 2016, Deloitte surveyed 1,200 business leaders from across the country to better understand the courageousness of Canadian organizations.
Investing in talent. You don’t grow a business without talent. This means recruiting talent before we think we can afford it — when it still feels risky. Investing in new markets. Canadian companies are actually bigger exporters than U.S. firms (10 per cent versus 4 per cent), but our micro-SMEs are vastly outpaced by our mid-sized SMEs when it comes to exporting. To jump from being a selfemployed micro-SME to an independent enterprise, venturing outside the immediate market is a risk these Canadian companies must consider.
Learn to Say Yes As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said, “recognize that there are times when you can’t put a toe in the water; “TRULY you have to leap in with both feet. COURAGEOUS” You have to say, ‘This is going to be expensive — and that means we’re going to have to make it work’ ... Only 11 per cent of the It’s the institutional yes.” companies surveyed were rated as “truly Meaningful growth and Calculating the Real Risk courageous.” meaningful risk are positively When is the right time to take a correlated. risk? Probably sooner than you’d A meaningful risk is one taken for a purpose, think. And often the risk isn’t what we think it such as romantic relationships, travel or is either, so the question to ask is not just “Do I personal or business growth. None of these are have the resources to survive if this risk fails?” possible without meaningful risk. but “Do I have the resources to deliver if this To grow, we have to say yes when it feels like succeeds?” saying no is the safe thing to do. The difference matters because risk feels different if we are calculating capacity for The Runway to Risk growth rather than hedging against failure. Like courage, risk is a big idea, not just a widget Playing to win is a different game than playing or an app. Courage and risk are words we use not to lose. when we are changing the world. They are the Sometimes conditions are not right for a risky blue sky of tomorrow, and to get there business investment, but in my experience this is only owners need to say yes far more often than they true a fraction of the time. “Not ready” is more do now, particularly in these two areas: often a rationalization than a rational position.
Here’s how to decide if the time is right: Listen for qualifiers. If you’re saying to yourself “We’re ready to try this but ...” then there’s a good chance you’re ducking reasonable risk. If you’ll be ready next week, you are probably ready today. Delete the qualifiers and jump. Follow Dr. Apgar. In 1953, Dr. Virginia Apgar formalized a test for newborns’ health. No Big Data, no regression analysis, nothing fancy: just five basic variables and three simple scores (0, 1, 2). Her test improved infant mortality rates worldwide. So when you are assessing risk, create a simple test. Write out five or six independent variables, and rate each on a simple 1-to-5 scale. For example: “This new product reinforces our existing line from: 1 = not at all, 5 = perfectly. Score and average the results. Don’t second-guess the answer: 4.5? Go. 3.5? Stop. Read Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow for more. Get an outside perspective. Share your rationale and your test with someone you trust who can review the processes you are using to assess the risk, not to judge the risk itself. We’re trying to figure out if you asked the right questions, not if you got the right answer. If you have taken steps 1 and 2 and your outsider agrees, then you’ve asked the right questions, and you know your answer. Jump. Clemens Rettich of Great Performances Management has an MBA in Executive Management, with 20 years of experience in education, management and small business.
by Steve Bokor and Joseph Alkana
Is Seasonal Investing the Right Strategy for You? Every season brings changes in how weather behaves, how people behave — and how markets behave. So is investing according to the seasons really a wise idea?
pring has sprung in Victoria. Oceanfresh air and sunshine bring a heightened sense of optimism for local business owners readying for the start of tourist season. Walking past the shops on Government Street, some already buzzing with tourists, one can make some profitable portfolio parallels. Spring and summer months bring more visitors to town for shopping, dining and more — something that happens year after year. We call this “seasonality,” and for investors, the changing seasons bring with them important lessons to be learned. Seasonal investing lessons have been summed up with cutesy sayings like “Buy
when it snows, sell when it goes; sell in May and go away.” Market pundits like to espouse this saying as first-quarter earnings ebb to a finish, tax returns are filed and refunds arrive in the mail. Sayings like this suggest investors would be better served selling equities ahead of the summer doldrums and holding cash until November. In fact, there are pundits who swear the seasonal buying and selling strategy will, on average, generate above-average rates of return. One cannot help but think that this saying came into common vernacular after the great stock market crash in October 1929 and again in October 1987. If you want a more recent example,
recall the infamous Monday, August 24, 2015, event when, in the first 15 minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged nearly 1,000 points. Who wants to ride that kind of volatility? The answer, of course, is no one. Look Before You Leap Before you jump on the seasonal bandwagon, you need to keep the following facts front and centre. First, seasonal investing requires a great deal of knowledge, dedication and time. Plus, you have execution costs to consider as you buy and sell — plus, selling generates a potential tax issue. Second, the historical evidence for seasonal investing is mixed and data dependent. For example, over a 20- or 30-year time horizon, on average the strategy can work (depends on your start and end points) but the evidence also suggests that in the short run (over three or four years) it might not. In 2014, the S&P 500 delivered a 9 per cent return; in 2013 it gained 11.2 per cent; and in 2009 the market was up 20 per cent in the May to October period. That’s a lot of money to leave on
the table, and in our experience, most investors will throw in the towel and abandon the strategy. Plus, the statistical evidence we reviewed is based on the S&P 500 index, which few people own. In reality, you are more likely to own a portfolio of mutual funds, ETFs (exchange-traded funds) and stocks. When is Seasonal Investing Right for Your Portfolio? The problem with seasonality is that it’s always changing, just like the weather. One year the pattern might work from April to September; in the next year it could be June to December. In practice, this means that seasonal investing won’t work for the average investor doing it themselves. However, it is a great tool to aid performance when you use it in conjunction with fundamental and technical analyses. For example, there is enough statistical evidence to look at trimming broad market exposure in May in favour of consumer staples, gold stocks and natural gas ETFs. (For the aggressive investor, use individual stocks that display good momentum and relative strength.) Then in November, investors should overweight broad markets, financials, consumer discretionary and materials. A Simpler Approach There is, however, a simpler approach. Horizons Exchange Traded funds offers the Seasonal Rotation ETF (symbol HAC) that you can ladder into your portfolio. By doing so, you will be creating a tactical trading strategy in your portfolio that uses a strict discipline to increase and decrease your overall equity and cash exposure. Do keep in mind that seasonality requires patience and discipline. If you recall, during the month of January 2016, the Dow plunged 1,659 points or 9.5 per cent in the first three weeks of trading. Disciplined investors were rewarded because the index not only recovered its full loss but added nearly 2 per cent by mid-May. If ETFs are not your thing, then perhaps think of writing covered calls on your equity positions. A Call Option is a fixed-term contract that gives the owner the right to buy a security at a specific price for a specified time. For example, suppose you own 500 shares of TD Bank stock. On May 19, the stock is trading at $66 and you don’t want to sell it even though it might drift lower during the summer. You could sell five August Calls with a $68 strike price for approximately $1.00 share. All things being equal, if TD Bank stock stays below $68 until the third Friday of August, you would earn an extra $500 on your investment. It’s important to note that there are
the three necessary elements to seasonal investing
School of Business Continuing Education
risks, so you should consult a qualified financial adviser before using option strategies. We’ve always found that when we present to clients on investment strategies, stock market seasonality is an easy concept for most of them to grasp because of the easy cause-andeffect analogies. Winter comes and stores can’t stock enough shovels and road salt. Spring arrives and stores stop selling parkas and sell more sunglasses and sunscreen. Financial markets develop similar cause-and-effect patterns or historical tendencies and averages. Until they don’t. Seasonal investing strategies are best used in combination with other investment disciplines, including solid stories (fundamentals) and smart entry and exit strategies (technical analysis). For additional information about seasonal investing, we strongly recommend you check out equityclock.com, alphamountain.com or investmentreview.com. And finally, always remember the wisdom of economist John Maynard Keynes: Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent. Steve Bokor, CFA, is a licensed portfolio manager, and Joseph Alkana, CIM FSCI, is a portfolio manager, both with PI Financial Corp, which is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).
by peter elkins
How to Build Your Startup Playbook If you don’t have your own startup playbook, you might be missing one of the key building blocks of success.
t’s all too common for new entrepreneurs to want to start building products or rolling out services right away, but unless you have a startup playbook, you may end up wandering without a map. What is a startup playbook? Simply, it’s much like a sports team’s playbook, which holds a team’s winning strategies. That playbook is key to a team’s success — and it’s also key to a startup’s success. So how do you build the right playbook for your business? Here are some resources I often share with the startup founders I’ve worked with:
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Techstars and Y Combinator A couple of excellent resources I always suggest to startup entrepreneurs are Techstars (techstars.com) and Y Combinator (ycombinator.com), two leading software accelerator programs. Scour their websites and you will discover some of the best-curated information available online. Techstars is a global ecosystem that helps entrepreneurs build businesses. Companies that have been funded include Twilio and Uber. Techstars has both startup and accelerator programs, plus a venture fund with $265 million under management. Y Combinator provides seed funding for startups with the goal of getting eligible companies through the early phase, to the point where they’ve built something impressive enough to raise money on a larger scale and are ready to meet later-stage investors or even acquirers. But funding is just part of the picture: a huge component is the education founders receive. Most of the founders in each startup Y Combinator agrees to fund (and always the CEO) are expected to move to the Bay Area for a three-month cycle of learning and exposure to those who have achieved success in the tech industry. If you meet the entrance prerequisites, consider applying for programs at both Techstars and Y Combinator, as you will find that even the application process is a great learning opportunity. Of course, being accepted is the fastest way to validate if you’re working on something people actually want! Two Vancouver Island companies this has worked for are Giftbit, which was part of the 2015 Techstars Seattle cohort, and Sendwithus, a 2014 Y Combinator graduate. Whether or not you plan to apply for these programs, you should visit their websites for the resources they offer. Techstars’ blog is a terrific source of information from those who have been there and done it and lived to tell the tale. At Y Combinator, you’ll find Hacker News, information from the How to Start a Startup program, and the Startup Playbook.
BC Innovation Council Venture Accelerator Program The Venture Accelerator Program (VAP) is a great opportunity for software entrepreneurs to engage with like-minded people and find a supportive culture for entrepreneurs. This paid structured venture-growth program is designed to guide and coach ambitious early-stage tech entrepreneurs to grow their technology ventures. As a well-tested program, VAP helps entrepreneurs accelerate the process of defining a proven business model based on a set methodology and set of best practices for growing technology companies. For those on the South Island, the program is delivered through Accelerate Tectoria at VIATeC (viatec.ca); for those north of the Malahat, the program is delivered by Innovation Island (innovationisland.ca). 72 Douglas
Meetups For founders of tech-focused startups in Victoria, B.C., a great group to connect with is Startup Meetup (victoriastartups.com). The purpose of this online group is to coordinate real-life meetups between group members in order to exchange ideas, share stories “from the trenches” and connect with others who are also in the early stages of starting companies. This volunteer initiative aims to “create and maintain a free and open knowledge base of content to help startups and their founders navigate towards success.”
Strategyzer I’ve talked before about Strategyzer (strategyzer.com), but it bears repeating. This is the go-to company for practical tools to help you get your startup playbook right, especially when it comes to Value Proposition Design and Business Model Generation. In fact, both Value Proposition Design and Business Model Generation are absolute musts for anyone with an idea they want to validate on paper before spending much money. These tools are quickly becoming the backbone of almost every business-planning course offered through business schools and entrepreneurship programs. The best part is, once you learn how to use these two tools, you will start using them for almost any idea to find out whether or not it’s worth pursuing.
Udacity Udacity (udacity.com) is knowledge-packed online university that offers courses and nanodegree programs built with forward–thinking companies like Google, Facebook, AT&T, IBM, GitHub and more. It’s all free — but don’t let the free status fool you: you’ll find lots of value here. Do begin with How to Build a Startup: The Lean Launchpad by Steve Blank. It’s a great program that gives you the fundamentals you need to vet your ideas and plan your business.
SaaStr Stuart Bowness from Workday introduced me to the website SaaStr (saastr.com), which has been called the undisputed thought leader in how to build a SaaS business. This is yet another must-have resource for any startup founder looking to learn and connect with other SaaS entrepreneurs. You’ll find info here on everything from fundraising to pricing, product and competition to traction and scale. Next Steps Once you have exhausted these resources, you’ll quickly discover more each time you connect with experienced entrepreneurs who are willing to share information — and so many are because they remember what it’s like to start a company. It’s in their startup playbook, after all. And now it’s time to start building yours. Peter Elkins is co-founder of the Capital Investment Network. He is passionate about driving Vancouver Island’s entrepreneurial economy.
such great heights From their unique vantage points high above, it’s no surprise that window cleaners occasionally see some surprising sights. “There’s no denying we see interesting things through the windows,” says Jean-Paul Meek, general manager of Alco Building Maintenance. “Occasionally they are wonderful, but mostly not. Let me put it this way: sometimes it’s ‘honeymoon-like’ things.” Alco is a family-run business that’s been operating in Victoria since 1963. It employs 15 people in peak season and its mostly commercial clientele includes the University of Victoria, the federal and provincial governments, a few major hotels and several propertymanagement companies. But don’t go looking for its website. “We’re a business-to-business company,” says Meek. “We’ve been around forever, and a calling card on the Internet hasn’t been necessary yet.” Meek has been with the company since 1995 and has been general manager since 2005. While he does go out on the ropes for special jobs, he leaves the tough work for the younger guys. “Half of our rope-level access technicians are mountain climbers and triathletes,” he says. “While I can be effectual with experience and insight, these guys are going to do any job twice as fast as I can.” Meek has seen “big changes in his time” in the level of worker proficiency, with window cleaners requiring at least level one of certification through the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT). “The highest building we’ve done on the Island is a 26-storey one in Nanaimo,” he says, “With the new densification in Victoria, we’re going to be seeing some higher buildings, which will give us some more excitement.”
by Athena McKenzie
Steve Hall, a ropeaccess technician and window cleaner with Alco Business Maintenance.
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