CUMBERLAND IS THE NEW COOL The former mining town is reinventing itself as a mecca for adventure
FOODPRENEURS WITH PASSION, DRIVE AND GOOD TASTE A CURE FOR GLOBAL WARMING CarbonCure’s CO2 solution
Nicole Smith, CEO, Flytographer
IT’S ABOUT TIME
Inside the curious world of watch collectors
From local startup to global company, Flytographer radically changed the world of vacation photography
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CONTENTS FEATURES 28 Cumberland is the
46 Keeping Watch
On Vancouver Island’s east coast, the former mining town of Cumberland is reinventing itself as a mecca for microbrewing, mountain biking and all manner of outdoor adventures. BY ANDREW FINDLAY
BY CINDA CHAVICH
38 The Foodpreneurs
Building a business around food can be a tricky venture, but Victoria is bubbling over with entrepreneurs who specialize in good taste. BY CINDA CHAVICH
Local watch collectors are part of a massive global market of aficionados in passionate pursuit of rare and storied timepieces.
50 Special Education
and Career Section
Boosting your education doesn’t mean quitting your day job. Discover the options for upgrading your skills without sacrificing income.
DEPARTMENTS 6 FROM THE EDITOR 9 IN THE KNOW Barracuda Surfboards, BCTech Summit, Coulson Ice, PetVibe, Gordy Dodd and more. 18 CASE STUDY ChopValue repurposes millions of used chopsticks, with designsavvy results. BY ATHENA MCKENZIE
20 IN CONVERSATION Flytographer’s Nicole Smith turned a problem with getting great vacation photos into a global solution that’s on a nonstop flight to success. BY SUSAN HOLLIS
24 BIG IDEA Concrete is a notorious ecooffender, but Victoria-based CarbonCure has found a solution. BY ALEX VAN TOL 62 LAST PAGE It’s a pinball renaissance. BY BILL CURRIE
INTEL (BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE) 56 ENTREPRENEUR Seeking startup investment? Avoid these big mistakes. BY ERIN SKILLEN
58 BREAKTHROUGH Being deviant isn’t always a negative in the workplace. BY ALEX VAN TOL
60 GROWTH Certainty is a myth that’s not always good for business. BY CLEMENS RETTICH
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
FROM THE EDITOR
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Downtown’s Growing Pains
THIS YEAR MY HUSBAND AND I moved downtown, joining about 6,000 other people who have migrated into Victoria’s urban core in the past five years. We were attracted to the revived vibrancy of downtown and the ability to easily walk to our favourite restaurants, cafés, shops and theatres, and we wanted to drastically reduce our carbon footprint. The result is we walk a lot, which has led to both a smaller carbon footprint and smaller waistlines. When people ask us about moving downtown, their biggest question is, “What do you do about parking?” often followed by some variation of, “Do you feel safe?” The first answer is easy. I park on the street and seldom have problems finding a spot. The second answer is more complex. I love living downtown and I do feel safe. Densification of downtown has played a big role in that — most police officers will tell you that busy streets are safer streets. Sure, there are areas I avoid because of open drug use or erratic behaviour, neither of which is unique to downtown — it’s just far more visible and far more concentrated. Crystal meth, fentanyl and carfentanil have turned a social problem into a social crisis that has ruined lives, taken lives and taxed both social agencies and police. Many citizens and businesses have called for a more visible and increased police presence downtown (see “Downtown in Crisis?” on page 10), and it seems VicPD would gladly comply with that. They asked for six additional officers last year, a request approved by Victoria but rejected by Esquimalt council. The dispute is under review by the province and a decision is expected this spring on whether the province will overrule Esquimalt’s decision. This year, VicPD has called for a six per cent increase to its budget, which would bring it to $57 million. Chief Constable Del Manak wrote in his recent op/ed in the Times Colonist, “VicPD has not had a single permanent officer added to our strength in eight years, a period that has seen significant growth in the population of our jurisdiction and the region as a whole. “Our officers are bearing the brunt of this growing gap every day and every night, and that story is being told, unfortunately, through the increase in operational stress injuries, both physical and mental, among our men and women.” The challenge faced by VicPD makes me think of Jay Unwin’s sculpture Trust and Harmony, which is located beside the VicPD headquarters at Caledonia and Quadra. The sculpture depicts a group of people trying to hold up a column, putting all of their resources into keeping it from toppling. Funding for more police, including a dedicated community response team in the downtown core, makes complete sense given the increased densification of the city’s urban centre and the complexity of the issues it faces. It’s not about over-policing — it’s about trying to maintain that important balance between order and disorder. It’s only with that balance that cities and the people who live in them can thrive.
It’s not about over-policing. It’s about trying to maintain that important balance between order and disorder.
— Kerry Slavens email@example.com
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Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Le Petit Prince”. Ref. 5010: The little prince tells the pilot he will give him a friendly laugh from the countless stars in the night sky. The sight of this watch inspires similar sentiments for every single detail is a joy to behold. The timepiece is not only an imposing 46 millimetres in diameter but also impresses with classic elegance that sets off the midnight blue dial to perfect advantage. Technical perfection, on the other hand, is guaranteed by the IWC-
manufactured 52110-calibre movement with its seven-day power reserve. Time enough to forget time and follow the dream-like journey of the little prince. IWC . E N G I N E E R E D FO R M E N . Mechanical IWC-manufactured movement 52110 calibre · Pellaton automatic winding · 7-day power reserve · Power reserve display · Date display · Central hacking seconds · Soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields · Screw-in crown · Sapphire glass, convex, antireflective coating on both sides · Special back engraving (figure) · Water-resistant 6 bar · Diameter 46.2 mm · Stainless steel · Calfskin strap by Santoni
www.douglasmagazine.com VOLUME 13 NUMBER 2
We believe the ultimate measure of our performance is our client’s success. It has guided our approach for over 30 years.
PUBLISHERS Lise Gyorkos, Georgina Camilleri
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Kerry Slavens
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Jeffrey Bosdet
PRODUCTION MANAGER Jennifer Kühtz
SALES AND MARKETING MANAGER Amanda Wilson
LEAD GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jo-Ann Loro DEPUTY EDITOR Athena McKenzie STAFF WRITER Susan Hollis
ASSOCIATE GRAPHIC DESIGNER Janice Hildybrant
ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Rebecca Juetten
MARKETING COORDINATOR Advait Gupte
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Belle White
ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Deana Brown, Sharon Davies, Denise Grant, Cynthia Hanischuk CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Cinda Chavich, Bill Currie, Andrew Findlay, Robyn Quinn, Clemens Rettich, Erin Skillen, Alex Van Tol CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Jeffrey Bosdet, Jo-Ann Loro, James MacDonald, Belle White
Ian Clark, CFP 250-405-2928 iandavidclark.ca
Joseph Alkana, CIM, FCSI 250-405-2960 josephalkana.com
Steve Bokor, CFA 250-405-2930 stevebokor.com
PROOFREADER Renée Layberry
CONTRIBUTING AGENCIES Getty Images p. 11, 50, 52, 54, 60 GENERAL INQUIRIES firstname.lastname@example.org SEND PRESS RELEASES TO email@example.com LETTERS TO THE EDITOR firstname.lastname@example.org TO SUBSCRIBE TO DOUGLAS subscriptions@ douglasmagazine.com ADVERTISING INQUIRIES email@example.com ONLINE www.douglasmagazine.com FACEBOOK DouglasMagazineVictoria TWITTER twitter.com/Douglasmagazine INSTAGRAM @douglasmagazine COVER Nicole Smith, founder and CEO, Flytographer Photo by Jeffrey Bosdet Hair and makeup by Erin Bradley Soaked in Luxury jersey blazer provided by Frances Grey. Published by PAGE ONE PUBLISHING 580 Ardersier Road, Victoria, BC V8Z 1C7 T 250.595.7243 E firstname.lastname@example.org www.pageonepublishing.ca Printed in Canada, by Transcontinental Printing
Do Canadian citizenship & immigration rules leave you puzzled? We can help. 740—1070 Douglas St. Victoria BC V8W 2C4 Canada +1.250.590.2951 immigrationlawbc.com All legal services are provided by the Robert S. Sheffman Law Corporation.
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ADVERTISE IN DOUGLAS! Douglas is a premium magazine dedicated to innovation, leadership and business lifestyle. Established in 2006, Douglas is the first choice for business leaders and achievers. Align your business with Douglas. For more information or to request an advertising rate card, please call us at 250.595.7243 or email us at email@example.com.
INNOVATION | DESIGN | BUSINESS | STYLE | PEOPLE
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
[IN THE KNOW ]
SHAPING A WAVE For the shapers at Barracuda Surfboards, being a board builder is the ultimate commitment to their sport and celebrates the unique character of the waves of the Pacific Northwest. “Our product is a testament to the years we’ve spent surfing this coast, and the lessons it’s taught us — we excel in the local community, understanding the different waves and how they work,” says owner William Hazen. “We use our craft to further a surfer’s progression and passion, acting as a catalyst for their love of surfing.” In business for almost 20 years, Barracuda makes approximately 150 boards a year. It serves surfers all over the world, including in France, Australia and Hawaii, drawing on
its shapers’ experience surfing in those locales. But Barracuda specializes in creating boards for the local surfing community. Tofinonative and Olympic-hopeful Noah Cohen counts a Barracuda-shaped board among his favourites. Each custom board starts as a dialogue between the surfer and the shaper. “We find out how long they’ve been surfing, their skill level and where they plan to surf — the knowledge of the local waves is crucial, as there is a pretty big difference between Canada and Hawaii,” Hazen says. “What we do is like creating a customtailored suit.” For more photos showing Barracuda’s process, visit douglasmagazine.com
CRIME BY THE NUMBERS
DOWNTOWN IN CRISIS?
A 2017 VicPD community survey showed that 39% of those polled didn’t feel safe downtown at night.
The overall crime rate between 2013 and 2017 (excluding traffic) is up 8.9% in Victoria and Esquimalt.
In a 2017 VicPD survey of businesses asking “how often do you call the police?” weekly calls went from 2% in 2014 to 7% in 2017.
[ HERE + HAPPENING ]
he Victoria Police Department (VicPD) and the downtown business community are calling for an increased police presence in the downtown core. Bolstered by VicPD statistics that show an 13.8-per-cent increase in property crime offenses in Victoria and Esquimalt between 2013 and 2017, an 11.8-per-cent rise in violent crime, and a rise in non-criminal calls for service, the VicPD has requested a 6.01-per-cent budget hike in 2019. The request was referred back to the police board by Victoria City Council with suggested modifications that would leave the VicPD with $1.67 million less than asked for in their original budget proposal. Jeff Bray, executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, says the business community has seen an increase in the level of unsafe behaviour from the street population, from sleeping in doorways to erratic behaviour. He notes a decrease
in overall feelings of safety for employees working downtown. “It’s not that downtown isn’t safe, but I would say that there seems to be a level of permissiveness around the behaviour of those who are dealing with various issues on the street that five years ago wouldn’t [have been] tolerated,” says Bray. “Business owners pay three and a half times the residential property rates, they pay for a big chunk of policing and services, and they feel like they aren’t getting the support.” Centralization of services and support for people dealing with homelessness, addictions and mental illness downtown has also been identified by police and business advocates as part of the problem. A decentralized model, in which some services and low-income housing are moved to other municipalities, could alleviate some of the stresses facing downtown. Erin Boggs, co-owner of
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
DESPITE AN OVERALL PROVINCIAL DOWNTURN IN CRIME, DOWNTOWN VICTORIA HAS SEEN A RISE IN CRIMINAL OFFENCES AND CALLS FOR SERVICE OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS. BY SUSAN HOLLIS
Jeff Bray, executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association
Robinson’s Outdoor Store on Broad Street, says while she and her staff feel safe at work, she has noticed an increase in homelessness and shoplifting. And while most of the interactions she has with the street population are positive, there have been difficult episodes that required help by private security firm Themis or the police. VicPD Chief Constable Del Manak says despite having the heaviest police presence per capita in Canada, his force struggles to cover its bases. The VicPD hasn’t seen a permanent increase to front-line staff since 2010. Manak
says long response times paired with increased social disorder downtown are making the community lose faith in the force. “The community has told us loud and clear that they want to see more officers visible — on foot, on bikes, proactively walking the beat, in the downtown core,” he says. “Our calls and complexity and demands from the community are going up and we are at a breaking point where we need to make sure that we can continue to add enough officers to provide the response that the community has asked for.”
[ WINNING WOMEN ]
[ THE VALUE OF ZERO ]
[ INVESTORS WELCOME ]
Meet business influencers at the 10th Annual Women’s Success Summit, produced by eWomenNetwork, a U.S./Canada network of 500,000 women entrepreneurs. Featuring eWomenNetwork founder Sandra Yancey, the event is on May 14 in Victoria, the only Canadian city chosen to host the summit. Visit ewomennetwork.com
Synergy Sustainability Institute is launching Project Zero, a business incubator for entrepreneurs who have ideas for turning waste materials into new products. The application deadline for the 8-month program is 4 p.m. on February 22. Visit project-zero.ca
Get set for the 2019 Angel Summit from February 28 to March 1 at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and venues around town. This year’s summit, brought to you by Capital Investment Network, VIATEC, NACO and Angel Forum, features company presentations in angel-forum format, speakers, tours and networking. Visit capitalinvestmentnetwork.ca
HOW THEY DID IT INNOVATE
Paul Nault (seen here with family dog Rupert) has raised $310,000 on FrontFundr, an online investment platform, for PetVibe.
WHAT BUSINESS NEEDS TO KNOW
JO-ANN LORO/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
A new year means new payroll tax hikes. On January 1, Canada Pension Plan premiums jumped from 4.95% of employee earnings to 5.1%. Earning limits went from $55,900 to $57,400. Further jumps are expected in 2025.
THIS BUSINESS IS GOING TO THE DOGS, and cats and birds and ... BY BELLE WHITE
CHALLENGE From dog-walking services to cat clinics to pet spas, the amount of information and services related to pets has rocketed in the last decade. But there’s been no single platform to coordinate the pet ‘parent’ community with essential information, and business and non-profit services.
SOLUTION Enter Victoria-based entrepreneur and lifelong pet parent Paul Nault. Inspired by platforms like Uber and Tinder for their ability to reinvent the travel and dating scene, Nault created PetVibe in 2017 as a single platform designed to connect pet owners with everything from local events and meetups to educational content and business services. PetVibe is also a centralized source of local deals and coupons. The app caught on quickly. “There are downloads in every state in the U.S. and every province in Canada,” says Nault, who has a history in business startups. “The number-one revenue model for the app is as a platform for pet businesses to advertise to a local audience,” says Nault, adding that PetVibe has an early adopter program for businesses to try the app out, with unlimited access. Nault has also established the PetVibe Foundation as an easy way for pet lovers to donate to causes that matter to them. When users shop through the app, a portion of the sales revenue is donated to the charity of their choice. “Pet businesses and owners are getting lost in the larger communities of Facebook, etc,” he says. “PetVibe is designed to bring everyone together onto a neighborhood pet app.”
BC Ferries CEO Mark Collins will talk about BC Ferries’ plans to evolve the coast ferry system and the future of Swartz Bay terminal at the Victoria Chamber Business Leaders Luncheon, March 6. victoriachamber.ca
Say goodbye to single-use plastic bags in Saanich as of June 2020. The move follows a bag ban by Victoria in 2018, challenged in court by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association. The B.C. Supreme Court dismissed that challenge.
THE FAIREST KIND OF TRADE LOCAL COMPANY HELPS WOMEN ESCAPE SLAVE LABOUR IN INDIA.
If changing the way you bought promotional products for your company could help change someone’s life, would you do it? Victoria entrepreneur Ali Rushton bet on it a decade ago when she launched Kindred Apparel. Her socially conscious company sells large-order, customprinted products, from bags to T-shirts and hats that are all organic, fair trade and made in a factory run by former victims of a red-light district in Kolkata, India. The workshop is overseen by Freeset, a New Zealand-based World Fair Trade Organization business that employs women who were forced into slave labour and have few commercial skills. “They teach and educate the women, give them jobs, health care, child care, literacy classes, pensions, vacation pay — everything we expect from a job in North America,” says Rushton. Kindred’s clients include Whole Foods, Lush, the Salvation Army and Meinhardt Fine Foods. Being able to make a living while enhancing life for a vulnerable population is paramount to her mindset. “What drew me to working with [Freeset],” she says, “is that I have an entrepreneurial spirit and a humanitarian spirit — and social enterprise married the two together nicely.”
MARCH 11 TO 13, VANCOUVER, B.C.BCTECHSUMMIT.CA
■ The summit’s 2019 theme, Reality Revolution, explores how we can use emerging tech, from AI to robotics, to solve the biggest challenges facing B.C. and the world. ■ Check out global and local speakers, from Duncan Wardle, Walt Disney’s former head of innovation & creativity, to Victoria’s Charles Lavigne, CEO of LlamaZoo, a Douglas 10 to Watch winner. ■ New this year is the Innovation Challenges Track, a platform for major B.C. organizations to pitch their challenges to solution providers, and don’t miss the Investment Showcase, which connects B.C.’s promising startups with leading investors.
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WHERE BUSINESS HAPPENS
For the dramatic prints of Queen Victoria seen at Q at the Empress, artist Julie Coyle updated vintage photos of the monarch by printing them on silver mylar and overlaying them with accents that match the space’s palette.
Q at the Empress is the place to see — and be seen
— SERVING GREATER VICTORIA — Packaged for optimal freshness.
Easy Online Ordering WWW.WOLFMEALPREP.COM 250-217-6465 12 DOUGLAS
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
Bay Centre GM Darlene Hollstein (left) with colleague Bethany Crowther
TIMED FOR LUNCH No time for a leisurely lunch meeting? Businesssavvy Q at the Empress has created the “Q in 60,” a prix-fixe, three-course meal you can enjoy within a one-hour time slot.
CONVERSATION PIECE Meeting an important client for the first time? With its quartzite bar, contemporary artwork featuring Queen Victoria and amazing people-watching opportunities, Q’s space and ambiance offer lots of conversational ice-breakers.
DOWNTOWN ICON “With breathtaking views of our working harbour, Q Bar provides a direct window into the vibrancy downtown has to offer,”says Darlene Hollstein, GM of The Bay Centre, “and it‘s an excellent location to meet and showcase this to new potential partners.”
NO EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT? DANG. ASK ANY CORPORATE LEADER WHAT KEEPS THEM UP AT NIGHT AND THEY’LL TELL YOU IT’S NOT JUST RECRUITING TALENT — IT’S KEEPING TALENT. THAT’S WHERE INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS BECOMES A MUST-HAVE STRATEGY.
LISTEN UP This first step helps you stop making assumptions. Consider setting up anonymous suggestion boxes and check-ins during staff meetings or scrums. Ask, “Is there anything we should be paying attention to?” Don’t be afraid to meander a bit off the agenda when a good discussion erupts.
BE TRANSPARENT Internal communications often default into bulletin-style info shared only when management deems it worth communicating. This approach leaves employees in the dark. Do you know what happens when there’s a communications gap? It gets filled, but not necessarily with the correct information.
COMMUNICATE often and consistently. Create a schedule and a communication policy so people expect
connection, appreciate inclusion and know what’s expected.
TALK ABOUT IT Team brainstorms are great, but some team members may be uncomfortable sharing in group settings. Set up coffee meetings in quiet spots and listen. By respecting people and giving them a chance to communicate, you activate a powerful engagement tool.
WALK THE TALK To grow a great company culture, don’t just point to a framed mission statement during meetings. The best way to communicate a cultural norm to your internal community is to demonstrate it in how you work and reflect it in everything you do. Robyn Quinn is president of Big Bang Communications, a digital communications consultant, and a champion of meaningful corporate culture.
DOUGLAS READS Seth Godin, author of 18 international bestsellers —including Unleashing the Ideavirus, Tribes, and All Marketers Are Liars — has compiled his marketing wisdom in a new book, This Is Marketing. Whether you’re the founder of a tech company, a small business owner, or a corporate executive, Godin’s lessons are designed to reframe how you present your product or service, so you can meaningfully connect with customers who want it.
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Why choose us? • In-Home Assisted Living • Ongoing Care Management • Hospital to Home Care • Cognitive Therapeutics™
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YOUR NEGOTIATING ADVANTAGE (250) 514-1966 LISAWILLIAMS.CA
If you’ve watched any local TV, you’ll recognize Gordy Dodd, owner of Dodd’s Furniture & Mattress, from his creative on-air ads where he’s played characters like Superman (Super Gordy) and Godzilla (Dodd-zilla) . But behind these humorous characters is a savvy business owner and dedicated philanthropist who launched Dodd’s as a small store in downtown Victoria in 1977 and grew it into Vancouver Island’s largest independent furniture retailer. Now, Dodd has been awarded the 2019 Lifetime Achievement award by the Victoria Chamber of Commerce Board of Governors. “Gordy’s story deserves to be told,” says Al Hasham, board of governors chair. “Anyone who has spent time in our city knows who Gordy is, has seen him on TV and recognized his talent for promotion. But there’s so much more to Gordy. He cares so much about his community and has taken action to improve the lives of many, many people.” In 1998, Dodd began an annual Thanksgiving dinner for people in need. The dinners have grown to twice a year, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and are held in Victoria, Nanaimo and Campbell River. Last year, more than 4,000 people enjoyed a festive meal thanks to Dodd and his team. Dodd says he hopes his efforts inspire others to be grateful for having an opportunity to live a good life and the chance to make a positive difference. “Really, there are not too many homeless. We can solve this,” Dodd says. “I just want people to [think about the fact that] we live in a rich country, and most people are doing pretty good. If we all just do a little bit we can solve a lot of problems.”
CURRENT LISTINGS – INFORMATION AT lisawilliams.ca
IN TRUSTED REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Canadian 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.
Rounding up attendees for meetings can be like herding cats. Doodle is a scheduling app that solves this problem with an easy voting system for attendees (just choose yes, no or if-needs-be) to simplify and speed up event planning. This savvy app also dovetails seamlessly with your digital calendar so there’s no extra work. DOODLE.COM
DESIGN | BUILD
MAKING DIRTY CLEAN TECHNOLOGY OWNED BY PORT ALBERNI’S COULSON GROUP OF COMPANIES — A PRIVATE, FAMILY-RUN COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN FORESTRY, AVIATION AND INDUSTRIAL CLEANING MACHINERY — IS FORCING CHANGE IN AN ECOLOGICALLY HARMFUL INDUSTRY. BY SUSAN HOLLIS
ndustrial cleaning is a dirty business, but a new green technology patented by Port Alberni’s Coulson Group and adopted by the likes of Tesla, Johnson & Johnson and Ford is turning the industry on its head. Instead of relying on traditional solvents, water or particulates like sand to pressure-clean factories, industrial sites and machinery, the Coulson Group’s Ice Blast technology uses regular “gas station” ice to strip difficult industrial grade materials off all types of surfaces. The machinery, developed and manufactured by Coulson Group
through its subsidiary, Coulson Ice Blast, has been praised for being simple to operate and light on resources, using 95 per cent less water than similar technologies while producing zero airborne particulates. “What we are quickly finding is that ice is one of the most effective cleaning mediums in the world,” says Foster Coulson, VP of Coulson Group. “It’s also the cheapest, so we have a really unique opportunity and we’ve been able to establish ourselves in the market as a world leader in cleaning technology — and we’re the only ones using ice. We feel
that out of a small community we are making a dent in the industrial cleaning industry, which is a multi-billion-dollar industry.” Coulson says the company’s growth in 2018 was almost 500 per cent, with major international conglomerates taking a serious interest in the Ice Blast technology, including United Rentals, which recently committed to buying Ice Blast’s smaller units — good for
commercial contractors — to rent from its locations across North America. The wins don’t end there. Foster, who runs the company with older brother Britton and father Wayne, was a Top 40 Under 40 finalist in BCBusiness magazine’s 2017 awards, and Coulson Ice Blast was recently listed as a semifinalist for the Small Business BC awards.
Erdem Excavating Ltd. is an innovative and quality-based operation that provides a wide variety of services, including mini and full-sized excavation as well as trucking. From road and civil construction to residential and commercial site preparation, the diversity of our skill set and equipment enables us to complete even the most challenging of projects in a timely, cost-effective and professional professional manner. manner. cost effective and
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ERDEM EXCAVATING LTD.
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Seaside Cabinetry & Design is a boutique kitchen and Seaside Cabinetry & Design is a boutique kitchen and bathroom showroom in downtown Sidney. Tony and Jessica bathroom showroom in downtown Sidney. Tony and Jessica are passionate designers who add their personal touch to are passionate designers who add their personal touch to every job. They are the Merit Kitchens dealer for Victoria and every job. They are the Merit Kitchens dealer for Victoria and offer a lifetime warranty. The showroom is full of samples offer a lifetime warranty. The showroom is full of samples and displays — come and visit them by appointment at their and displays — come and visit them by appointment at their beautiful location by the sea! beautiful location by the sea!
Making the decision to sell can be a difficult one; whether Making the decision to sell can be a difficult one; whether you are upgrading to a larger home, downsizing, relocating you are upgrading to a larger home, downsizing, relocating or just looking for a change, Chace can help. His clientor just looking for a change, Chace can help. His clientfocused approach ensures your best interests always come focused approach ensures your best interests always come first. Contact Chace to learn more about his proven sales first. Contact Chace to learn more about his proven sales and marketing process and to help you decide if it’s the and marketing process and to help you decide if it’s the right time to sell your home. right time to sell your home.
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CHACE WHITSON PERSONAL REAL ESTATE CHACE WHITSON PERSONAL REAL ESTATE CORPORATION CORPORATION
9715 First Street 9715 First Street 250 812 4304 250 812 4304 SeasideCabinetry.ca SeasideCabinetry.ca
Phone: 250 818 9338 Office: 778 426 2262 Phone: 250 818 9338 Office: 778 426 2262 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org chacewhitson.com chacewhitson.com
CASE STUDY ■ BY ATHENA MCKENZIE ■ PHOTOS BY BELLE WHITE
UPCYCLING MEETS INNOVATION Born out of frustration at the wasting of a beautiful renewable resource, ChopValue transforms thousands of used chopsticks into a striking new building material.
EXT TIME YOU GO FOR SUSHI OR NOODLES in Victoria, the chopsticks you use could end up as part of a sleek side table or geometric wall décor. ChopValue, a Vancouver company that has set up a collection facility in Victoria, upcycles chopsticks into a high-performance composite bamboo material they use to create tiles, shelving and furniture. It’s even used for architectural panels and custom interior design projects. According to Felix Böck, founder and CEO of ChopValue, the idea grew out of a confluence of events. “When I moved to Vancouver [from Germany], I noticed there was a lot of Asian restaurants that use chopsticks, and I’m doing my PhD on bamboo products, so throwing out these beautiful bamboo chopsticks made me frustrated,” he says. “But I don’t think I would have noticed or thought of the waste if I hadn’t worked on a project with the City of Vancouver on how to reduce recycled wood waste from all the demolished construction sites. It should be normal to think twice if we can reuse a material or not before we throw it away.”
REDEFINING RESOURCE Billions of bamboo chopsticks are shipped over from China each year only to be used once and tossed in the trash. Böck estimates 100,000 chopsticks are thrown away every day in Vancouver alone. While they
SUSTAINABLE DESIGN 18 DOUGLAS
Victoria-based L/L Supply Co sources leftover fabric from other brands, dead stock and warehouse off-cuts destined for the landfill, and repurposes that waste into new, limited edition clothing.
This win-win partnership helps restaurants reduce their landfill waste while providing ChopValue with a steady stream of input material for their products.
should decompose quickly in the landfill, he points to the carbon footprint of its harvesting, production and shipment. “It should be natural to use a material that was previously defined as waste,” he says. “I define it as a resource.” ChopValue obtains this “resource” from its network of partner restaurants. Once the collection loads arrive in the production facility in Vancouver, workers sort and align all of the chopsticks so they are ready for a water-based glue bath. After a drying process, they enter a hot press where they get formed under a lot of heat and pressure into a new material. “That new material is the functional unit we use for making our design products,” Böck says.
THE VICTORIA CONNECTION One of the initial challenges that ChopValue faced was convincing restaurants to join the program. Many didn’t understand why someone would want to collect their garbage for free. “It’s a big responsibility on our end to educate and be fully transparent about what we do with the chopsticks,” Böck says. “That usually gets
them excited, inspired and involved. The program does make their lives easier.” Some of the restaurants even commission custom furniture from ChopValue. Here in Victoria, local non-profit The Food Eco District (FED) — whose vision is to create a more sustainable food economy — helped connect ChopValue with a number of Victoria businesses. According to Holly Dumbarton, project manager at FED, this win-win partnership helps restaurants reduce their landfill waste while providing ChopValue with a steady stream of material for their products. “The circular economy is a big part of where we need to go for future sustainability,” she says. While Victoria wasn’t initially on ChopValue’s radar when it was expanding, Böck says people here were actually asking for it, so the company decided to try to run it as an extension of the Vancouver business. “We want to get to a point where everything ordered on Vancouver Island or made for clients on Vancouver Island is collected from restaurants on Vancouver Island,” Böck says. “Once we gain traction, we will also produce in Victoria.”
1 At ChopValue’s small facility in Victoria, product manager Janson Chan creates shelves and tiles out of the bamboo material created at the Vancouver production facility from recycled chopsticks. 2 ChopValue collects used chopsticks from 10 partner restaurants in Victoria. Before being glued and pressed in Vancouver, the chopsticks must be aligned in the proper orientation.
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Norton Point, an eyewear company from Martha’s VIneyard, has partnered with Vancouver’s The Plastic Bank to create glasses made from plastic waste collected from the world’s oceans.
3 The tops and tips of the chopsticks can be seen on the edge of a ChopValue tile, giving a visual clue as to the material’s origins.
4 Each ChopValue Wall Décor set includes six hexagonal tiles and three shelves, which can be arranged in any pattern you choose.
Pentatonic — a European furniture company — uses melted-down smartphone screens to make an iconic tumbler called The Handy Glass.
IN CONVERSATION WITH NICOLE SMITH, FOUNDER AND CEO, FLYTOGRAPHER
NON-STOP FLIGHT Nicole Smith had a problem getting great vacation photos, so she launched Flytographer and scaled it into the world’s largest and most innovative vacation photography platform.
ood ideas are uncomfortable beasts. They don’t sit politely — they spring ahead, loud and ready to be seen. Even when you ignore them, they fuss in the background with the perseverance of toddlers wanting dessert. This is what Flytographer founder Nicole Smith experienced when she came up with the idea for a business built around vacation photography. Frustrated by the quality of photos she and her friend were taking on their 2011 trip to Paris, Smith realized if a photographer were to meet them for a short time, they could easily capture the best of their trip and secure powerful mementos of the weekend. So they called a third friend to take casual street photos of the two of them — and the resulting snapshots became treasured souvenirs. Upon returning home, the idea for a vacation photography business percolated. Despite trying to ignore it, Smith found herself walking towards it backwards, securing the URL “just in case” and telling herself it wouldn’t hurt to gently test the concept on friends. Those initial beta sessions got rave reviews, so she used her savings to build the company, putting everything on the line for an idea that just wouldn’t go away.
AN IMPACT CULTURE THAT INSPIRES On a winter’s day in Victoria, Smith sits in Flytographer’s heritage office overlooking Market Square, talking about the executives she’s poised to hire after a successful second round of seed funding in 2018 netted the company $1.2 million. Since its launch in 2013, Flytographer has been on a non-stop flight. Two years after launching, it won a Douglas magazine 10 to Watch Award as one of the Island’s best new companies. Then, in 2017 and 2018, Flytographer, which did $4 million in sales last year alone, was named one of Canada’s top 50 fastest growing companies by Canadian Business magazine, and it 20 DOUGLAS
BY SUSAN HOLLIS
has been covered by the likes of oprah.com, Buzzfeed, the New York Times and InStyle magazine. The company has also clinched major partnerships with global travel brands such as Fairmont, Hyatt, Expedia, TripAdvisor and Virtuoso. Inside Flytographer’s HQ, a staff of 18 works at banks of desks alongside a wall covered in hundreds of photos of the photographers Flytographer works with, names and cities of residence written beneath. An interior window is dotted with sticky notes with handwritten aphorisms from staff, like “knowing is better than wondering” and “never be smaller than you are.” It’s all a reminder that Flytographer is a business that depends heavily on people with top-notch communications skills and high emotional intelligence, who are driven by creating impact. Not surprisingly, these are qualities Smith herself possesses. “She’s so receptive and open to receiving feedback, which you don’t always get with founders and CEOs,” says Flytographer investor and advisor Kim Kaplan, who was also integral to the marketing and growth of the dating site Plenty of Fish, which sold to Match.com in 2015 for $575 million cash.
Flytographer started as a lark — it didn’t start as ‘I’m going to create a $100 million company and dominate global photography for the world.’”
“Nicole has a great sense of what she knows and what she doesn’t know,” says Kaplan, “and is willing and wants to seek help from people who are experts in those areas.”
THE RUNWAY TO SUCCESS Smith knows a happy staff is a productive staff; she’s quick to point to her team as integral to her success. But at the beginning it was just her, essentially building the company alone, working nights and weekends to shape Flytographer into a marketable, profitable company. Flytographer’s first round of funding raised $650,000 CDN and came mostly from friends and family, as well as from some of her earliest clients who saw big things for the little startup. It was an evolution for Smith, who admits to doing some big thinking before shifting
from Microsoft employee to bootstrapping entrepreneur. “I thought, ‘Why would I disrupt this calm? I have this great job in marketing at Microsoft, I have a great life with my kids, I can pick them up from school, I have so much balance, I love my life,’” she recalls, adding that after a difficult divorce she had come to value the peace she had achieved as a single mom with two young boys. “Flytographer started as a lark — it didn’t start as ‘I’m going to create a $100 million company and dominate global photography for the world,’” she says. “It started off as ‘I have a problem I want to solve, and maybe other people have this same problem, so let’s test this.’”
CAPTURING MEMORIES Once upon a time, people would think,
“I wish I had a camera” when life’s most beautiful moments unfolded. Today, despite everyone having cellphone cameras, millions of Facebook and Instagram posts prove that truly great photos remain elusive. This is what makes Flytographer so pivotal. Flytographer was first to tap into a vacation market that was clearly craving better documentation. It now operates on six continents and connects clients to top photographers in 250 cities around the world for short photo shoots that marry people to place. It has established itself as the first and largest vacation photography service company on the planet. Its premise is simple. Customers — typically people on vacation — book photo shoots of varying lengths and intricacy with professional photographers located in cities around the globe, from Venice to Paris and New York to DOUGLAS 21
Marrakesh. The location is as much a part of the photo product as the people in it, and Flytographer’s photographers are carefully vetted for their skills behind the camera, as well as personal skills and knowledge of the city they’re working in. They know how the light will fall at local landmarks at certain times of day, when to avoid congested areas and about secret locations that photograph beautifully but may not be on a client’s radar. Out of 13,000 applicants, Flytographer has hired 500 international photographers based on a certain blend of skills that take customer service to the next level. Given the current zeitgeist leading us away from plastic junk and meaningless trinkets, there’s no better time to market memories as souvenirs. And contrary to popular belief, it isn’t only image- and selfie-obsessed millenials who are buying the service. Flytographer specializes in covert proposal shoots, honeymoons, babymoons and family trips. “Our biggest cohort,” says Smith, “is moms who want to be in the photo, who are tired of not being in the photo, or who want to be in the photo and actually look decent. “I was never in the photo when I started this business either, and it’s so hard to orchestrate to get everyone in. You’re the family chronicler taking the photo most of the time. So moms go on their vacations and book Flytographer.” Since its 2013 launch, Flytographer has produced more than one million photos and is adding more every day. What to do with all of this associated data is just one of the challenges the company faces as it moves forward and examines how it can profit across other verticals. “How do we leverage these assets?” Smith says when asked about Flytographer’s future goals. “How do we tag these assets
NICOLE SMITH’S FAVOURITE THINGS What’s your favourite app and why? Slack. It allows me to stay in touch with my team and communicate quickly wherever I am. We also have a lot of integrations set up, so it pulls in critical business data (like real-time bookings) to view at a glance. It’s also really fun with gifs, emojis, etc. that add a playful element to a crazy-busy day.
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When travelling for business, what must-haves do you carry in your bag and why? Navy pashmina (blanket, pillow, extra layer if it gets cold on the plane); iPhone, portable charger and headphones (because I listen to a lot of podcasts on planes and make a lot of notes in the Notes app, as flying is a great time for thinking, brainstorming and mapping out plans). Good book, S’well bottle, nuts, Kind bar, mints, Wet Wipes, a pen. I only ever carry-on, so I pack very efficiently, wear a lot of black and do laundry as I go.
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and catalogue them into different tables?” Part of Flytographer’s goal is to direct resources to areas of the market that are still unknown, such as using AI to read and identify photos, and metadata tagging. “We created this marketplace,” Smith explains, “so there isn’t a series of solved problems that we can rely on. We are having to custom code and come up with solutions ourselves.” For example, she says, Flytographer can’t just use an off-the-shelf calendar because, as a photography business, its calendar is spread across multiple time zones around the globe. VIATEC CEO Dan Gunn has been watching Smith grow Flytographer from its inception, when he first encouraged her to apply for VIATEC’s accelerator program. He says her grit and receptiveness to direction made her an excellent candidate. “There are lots of people with interesting ideas,” says Gunn, “but the ones that actually seek help, who admit what they don’t know and are willing to work hard on what doesn’t come easily to them, are the ones with the greatest chance of doing something special. “Her business concept at the time wasn’t the typical startup applicant we expected but we could see in her that she was brilliant, ambitious, focused and yet still coachable.”
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WOMEN IN TECH Tech is still mostly dominated by men, and Smith says a lack of female role models made starting her company harder, although aligning herself with powerful female mentors like Kaplan has been beneficial. That’s why she recently stepped down as a board member at VIATEC to sit on the board of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, a Vancouver-based charity that educates, mentors and connects women entrepreneurs across Canada. “So many people have helped me,” she says, “and I think women need as many things tossed at them as they can because there’s such a divide right now. Four per cent of venture capital goes to women, so how do we level the playing field and provide resources?” Though Flytographer is growing quickly, Smith has adapted to the fast-paced business world that is her new normal. Asked if a generous offer might tempt her to sell her company, Smith says she’s too interested in where Flytographer is going to let it go now. Being at the forefront of an industry with room to grow leaves myriad ways for her company to shape the future of vacation and event photography. And it will all be documented one shutter click at a time. ■ DOUGLAS 23
BIG IDEA ■ BY ALEX VAN TOL ■ PHOTOS BY JAMES MACDONALD
CURING CLIMATE CHANGE IF WE’RE GOING TO STOP GLOBAL WARMING, WE NEED TO ELIMINATE MORE THAN 40 BILLION TONNES OF CO2 EMISSIONS EVERY YEAR. CARBONCURE’S INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY IS REVERSING THE DAMAGE FROM ONE OF THE WORLD’S BIGGEST POLLUTANTS: CONCRETE.
ast spring, Robert Niven’s company CarbonCure received a fistful of cash from Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), an investment group whose board includes Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Jack Ma, Jeff Bezos and Michael Bloomberg. BEV’s directive? Figure out how to achieve 500 million tonnes a year of carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions — and do it while providing venturegrade returns. While BEV’s 2018 investment is a massive coup for the little Victoria- and Halifax-based green-tech company that could (Niven declines to disclose the amount), it isn’t CarbonCure’s first round of investment. Rather, it’s one of several, with Pangaea, BDC, GreenSoil, Innovacorp and various angel investors forming the backbone of previous rounds. What’s different this time is BEV came to CarbonCure. “They sort of scoured the world for technologies that can change things,” says Niven. “We closed that deal in record time. We weren’t even fundraising.” It’s a brilliant feather in the cap of CarbonCure, one of only nine green-tech companies worldwide to be anointed by BEV, and the only such company in Canada. “Up until that point we were, we thought, growing very aggressively and pushing, pushing, pushing,” says Niven. “And they said, ‘OK, what
you’re doing is great, it’s established — but you need to be more ambitious. And we want to give you the resources to be able to achieve 500 million tonnes a year of CO2 reductions because that’s what’s really going to change the course of this climate change narrative.’”
THE TRUE TOLL Changing that narrative has been on Niven’s agenda since he first attended the 2005 United Nations (UN) climate conference in Montreal. Knee-deep in his master’s of civil engineering at McGill at the time, he was taken aback by hearing testimony about global warming from speakers living in different parts of the world. “As a Canadian, I don’t think we really understand the true toll of climate change,” he says. “At these meetings you hear from the front lines about places that just don’t have the benefits that we have. Small island states, for instance, that are just evaporating as sea level rise is wiping them off the map. And you know, they’ve been there for thousands of years.” Given his BSc in chemistry from the University of Victoria, that first UN conference set Niven’s wheels turning. Then, in 2006, at the UN climate conference in Nairobi, Niven met Maia Green, a Victoria woman who was also on the Canadian delegation. When Niven returned to his native Victoria following his graduation
from McGill, he reconnected with her, and she introduced him to her sister Lara. The two hit it off (and later married). Lara introduced Niven to her dad, Carmanah Technologies founder David Green. Over lunch, Niven explained to the senior Green the carbon utilization idea he had been exploring. Along with good advice and an open door to a mentorship that lasts to this day (Green is CarbonCure’s board chair), Green offered Niven $1,000 to talk with his lawyer and get a patent scan done. “That’s a thousand dollars out of his pocket for a stranger, for someone who’d just met his daughter,” Niven recalls. “That’s something most fathers would not do.” By 2007, Niven had founded CarbonCure, and by 2015 the company was making strides in the clean-tech space.
HOW CARBONCURE WORKS CarbonCure technology is used in the concrete industry — including ready mix — one of the world’s largest emitters of CO2. Industrial emissions are captured at the source by thirdparty providers then delivered to one of the company’s 126 North American producers, where CarbonCure’s technology is then applied. Travis Butler, president of Butler Concrete & Aggregate — a CarbonCure partner since 2017
CarbonCureâ€™s technology is in use by concrete producers across North America, including Victoria-based Butler Concrete & Aggregate. Concrete plants can be retrofitted with the technology in a single day, with no changes to their materials and production practices needed.
— explains how it works: “The equipment itself is essentially taking a liquid CO2 product and injecting it through CarbonCure’s proprietary technology,” Butler says. “This turns it ultimately into a dry-ice or snow-like product that is shot into the back of the drum when you’re producing concrete. When that happens, the CO2 reacts with the cement that’s included in your concrete production and starts the chemical process of reforming limestone.” The C02 isn’t just trapped or stored, as with other technologies we hear about. Even if you pulverize CarbonCure concrete, that CO2 is never coming back out, because it’s gone. It’s
been chemically rearranged ... into a mineral. The advantage for partner businesses like Butler is fourfold: the resulting concrete is stronger; concrete manufacturers can offer customers a greener product; they’re meeting climate change calls to action; and CarbonCure concrete can be cheaper to produce. Butler, which builds everything from highrises to malls on the South Island, saved 500 tonnes of CO2 emissions and injected nine tonnes of CO2 into its concrete in its first year of using CarbonCure technology. That new Mayfair Mall expansion? Yep. CarbonCure concrete. Part of the BEV deal specifies that CarbonCure
“I THINK OUR SUCCESS GOING FORWARD WILL BE ALIGNING OURSELVES WITH GOVERNMENTS THAT ARE ACTUALLY TRYING TO MAKE MEANINGFUL IMPACT ON CLIMATE CHANGE.” — ROB NIVEN, FOUNDER OF CARBONCURE
engages in rapid geographic expansion, taking its innovative technology to countries where government and industry are ready to make significant change. The other stipulation is that the company focuses on driving innovation, looking for ways to realize carbon reduction at additional points in the production cycle. “To be able to have a global impact,” Niven explains, “we need geographic expansion and technology [portfolio expansion]. And we’re pursuing both [of these] in parallel to be able to achieve those goals as quickly as possible.” In addition to its established carbon utilization technologies, the company is working on reducing water use in the concrete manufacturing process by using CO2 — a waste product — to treat other waste products and reincorporate them into the concrete. CarbonCure anticipates a significant reduction in freshwater use as a result. Partnerships with concrete manufacturers at home and abroad are key to CarbonCure’s expansion. A new deal with PanUnited in Singapore has opened doors to Asia. Europe is in the pipeline, with governments in Sweden, France and Germany wanting to learn more. “I think our success going forward will be aligning ourselves with governments that are actually trying to make meaningful impact on climate change,” says Niven. “If you listen to a lot of progressive governments, they’re putting their money where their mouth is, and that’s around procurement.” And while Canada is saying all the right things, our federal and provincial governments 26 DOUGLAS
aren’t walking the talk just yet, according to Niven, so for now CarbonCure will develop partnerships with countries that are.
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CarbonCure bases its finance and international sales out of Victoria, and its engineering and R&D out of Halifax. The bi-coastal split is perfect for addressing global markets. Numbering just 30 people (with a few more coming onstream in 2019), CarbonCure runs lean. Most of the “work” is done by partner producers at concrete plants around the globe, whose interests are aligned with CarbonCure’s mission. “In those cases we can actually work with them and tap into their existing resources and assets that are in-market,” Niven says. “We’re able to achieve far faster growth than if we were to try and build the whole thing ourselves in silos.” A small company with dedicated partners means a team that’s constantly focused on the mission. “We’ve managed to build a team of people who each bring something unique to the table yet share a common vision of reducing carbon emissions in the cement and concrete sector,” says Jennifer Wagner, CarbonCure’s executive VP of corporate development and Niven’s second-in-command. “This alignment of goals is really what drives us all forward in the same direction.” Wagner is heading CarbonCure’s team in the $20 million Carbon XPRIZE, a five-year competition that pits teams of innovators against each other in the carbon utilization space. Several thousand teams entered the competition globally, but only two tracks of five teams each remain; the final showdown is in spring 2020. (Watch the XPRIZE video at carboncure.com.) Wagner — who has a master’s degree in chemistry and an MBA, and who Niven calls “the heart and soul of CarbonCure” — is the only XPRIZE female team captain. She’s beyond excited to see everyone involved, from sponsors to teams to partners, sharing the common mission of reducing carbon emissions on a global scale.
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Cumberland is the New Cool A former mining town that almost became a ghost town is finding its way to the future by tapping into its gritty history, heritage charms and now-legendary reputation as a mountain-biking mecca. ■ BY ANDREW FINDLAY
■ PHOTOS BY JEFFREY BOSDET
BEER AND PIZZA — if there were
ever a marriage made in heaven, this is it. It’s late afternoon and mud-splattered mountain bikers are rolling up to Cumberland Brewing Company for a post-ride pint and food. It’s Cumberland lifestyle at its best, and like most entrepreneurs in this bustling Vancouver Island community, it was lifestyle, not work, that drew the brewery’s co-owner Darren Adam here. In 2014, while living on Royston Road near Cumberland, Adam was commuting in his private Cessna to and from jobs wrenching on airplanes. Bumpy flights across the Strait
of Georgia were getting tiresome, and he was ready for a change. “I sort of threw it out there that I was looking for something different,” recalls Adam, who is originally from Calgary. Soon after he met Mike Tymchuk, another entrepreneur from Calgary who years earlier had founded Wild Rose Brewery in his home city before moving to Vancouver Island. Tymchuk and wife Caroline had opened Riders Pizza on Dunsmuir Avenue, Cumberland’s historic main street, and were incubating plans for a local brewery. When a suitable space became available next to Riders Pizza,
the Tymchucks formed a partnership with Adam, who had zero brewery experience. Mike and Caroline became brewmaster and balancer of the books respectively, and Adam became beer salesman and front-end guy. They started swinging hammers in August 2014, and by December were serving their first pints. Instinct told them that the village was ready for a convivial brew pub without walls covered in television screens. Three months in, they were slammed with work and needed more room, so they bootstrapped again to purchase a former Chinese restaurant across the street. They tore it apart to make way for
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Darren Adam (pictured here and on the opening spread) is co-owner of Cumberland Brewing Company. The brewery’s website fittingly says, “Cumberland deserves good beer that’s a reward for the daily toil of building a community.” Dunsmuir Avenue, Cumberland’s main street, features historic buildings like the Cumberland Hotel, now a pub and live-music venue that boasts it has been serving customers since 1894.
Putting Family back on the Balance Sheet For 32 years, The Mahrt Investment Group has been entrusted to provide clients with comprehensive investment and wealth management strategies, helping them meet their present and future financial goals. a new pizzeria. Now, between Cumberland Brewing, Riders Pizza and a small market garden in a vacant lot next to the pizzeria, they employ some 70 full- and part-time staff.
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Two decades ago, you could barely give away a Cumberland fixer-upper. Since the closing of the mines in 1966, the town — once home to one of B.C.’s biggest mining operations — had steadily seen its population drop and its charm fade. Comox Valley real estate agents were said to have sneered at the village, and they often refused to list its properties. But the town has made a remarkable comeback. Today, Cumberland heritage homes fetch half a million or more and are as coveted as Courtenay’s tony Crown Isle, a golf-centred development where the lawns are manicured and the fire hydrants are painted gold.
Indeed, Vancouverites and other real-estate refugees are cashing out and arriving with pockets full of equity and aspirations of smalltown living made ultra-vibrant by the town’s love of mountain biking, music, art and enough civic pride to fuel a city four times its size. Between 2011 and 2016, the village welcomed 1,300 new residents, putting the population at just under 4,000. If current trends continue, its population could grow to 8,500 by 2030. And the population makeup has changed too. In 2006, less than 50 per cent of residents had a post-secondary education, and fewer than 200 earned more than $50,000 in after-tax income. Today, roughly 70 per cent have a university degree or college diploma, and more than 300 are pulling in $50,000 or more. And suddenly Cumberland, like many Island towns, has an affordability problem. Adam admits Cumberland’s increasing
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popularity is good for business, but he recognizes the downsides of its success. “Making money and creating jobs is great,” he says. “But it’s tough. Gentrification definitely doesn’t hurt our business, but our staff is feeling the housing pinch.” Neither gentrification nor housing affordability were concerns back when Cumberland Mayor Leslie Baird, who began her third term last October, was first elected to council 29 years ago. Even if Baird had a crystal ball back then she wouldn’t have envisioned the remarkable evolution her humble village has undergone, from blue-collar town to hipsterville. These days she sees listings for properties not in Cumberland but that reference proximity to her community in an apparent effort to cash in on the village’s cachet.
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Cumberland’s population grew by 10% between 2011 and 2016; its labour force grew by 17%.
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It’s an irony not lost on Baird. “I’ve got to say it feels pretty good,” she says with a smile, as she eyes up a stack of documents on her desk at the village office.
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BECOMING LEGENDARY It’s hard for Cumberlanders not to feel a little smug these days — so smug the village adopted “legendary” as its motto a few years back. “I used to shout about Cumberland from
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the rooftops and people laughed at me,” says Meaghan Cursons, a community activist who discovered Cumberland on a whim in the mid 90s and has been a central figure in the village’s arts, culture and music scene ever since. Cursons shouts from the rooftops no more — or at least the tune has changed. Cumberland has become a brand and is in many ways selling itself, maybe even overselling itself. Now it’s time to carefully chart the future. Today, the village is at a crossroads as it ponders how to maintain the quaint heritage character and access to recreation that’s its calling card. Core issues involve how to manage the influx of people and how to avoid bland suburban sprawl of the available land on its outskirts and around the Inland Island Highway interchange. These are issues facing the village, but right now you could teach an urban planning course around Cumberland and learn much about what makes a community successful, though it would be difficult to bottle and replicate elsewhere. The village has an enviable location, surrounded by a working forest and tucked up against the Beaufort Range with Comox Lake as its backyard. But the curious zeitgeist of Cumberland has more to do with history and human capital. Its historic centre is compact and picturesque, with tales of the past that almost ooze from the architecture. And while every community has its story, Cumberland’s has taken on near-mythological status. In the early 20th century, it was the capital of Robert Dunsmuir’s coal mining and timber empire. An ethnically diverse immigrant workforce came to toil in Dunsmuir’s notoriously dangerous mines, and at one time Cumberland had the largest Chinatown north of San Francisco.
WHY MEDIATION WORKS When couples get married, they don’t envision it ending years later in fighting, with children caught in the middle and thousands of dollars in legal bills... Cumberland resident Meaghan Cursons is a self-described community “animateur and facilitator with a passion for building community from the ground up.”
Indeed, the Canadian labour movement has deep roots in Cumberland, something Adam shares with customers at Cumberland Brewing. “I often meet people sitting at the bar who are new to Cumberland or visiting and they’re trying to put their finger on what makes this village tick,” he says. “And I tell them, for one it’s the birthplace of the Canadian labour movement.” Just as Cumberland’s story resonated with people like Meaghan Cursons back in the 90s, it remains a compelling part of Cumberland’s appeal. In fact, every July, labour reps and activists still gather to pay tribute at the tombstone of Ginger Goodwin, a unionorganizing coal miner and pacifist gunned down in 1918 by a government deputy, an act that is still viewed by many as a state-sponsored assassination. His killing sparked the first general labour strike in Canadian history, and the gritty anti-establishment legacy of Goodwin continues to inform Cumberland’s pugnacious civic pride and independent spirit. The village’s story is also on full display at the annual May Day parade. Along with traditional parade fare, including a May Day queen waving regally from a vintage convertible, there are people riding colourfully adorned $8,000 mountain bikes representing United Riders of Cumberland (UROC), a nonprofit that forged a land-use agreement in 2016 with Hancock Resource Group and TimberWest Forest Corp. That agreement legitimized a 200-kilometre network of trails, enabling the village to leverage this tourism asset that has growing global appeal. Cumberland plays host to numerous sporting events, including the BC Bike Race, which brings 600 mountain bikers from more than 30 countries to race on local trails. Not bad for a village that was once written off for being a derelict and dying resource town.
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IT’S THE ECONOMY Not surprisingly, the village’s unique history and vibrant culture gets frequent mention in Cumberland’s recently minted 2018–2023 Economic Development Strategy. So does a dire need for hotel beds — a lack of tourist accommodation is at least partly to blame for Cumberland’s businesses not benefiting as much as they could from visitors who come to bike and hike in the community’s forest, hit the beach or go rock climbing at Comox Lake, or ski at Mount Washington. The plan also recognizes the need to diversify Cumberland’s tax base into industrial, light industrial and commercial development for much-needed relief for residential ratepayers,
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“Cumberland has some of the largest chunks of remaining industrial zoned land in the Comox Valley,” says economic development coordinator Kaelin Chambers. The village has an agreement in principle with the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre to harness methane gas that could be used to service an industrial park. Though it’s early days, Chambers says industrial cannabis production has been identified in the economic development strategy as one of the potential uses for this vacant land. It’s taken a long time for Cumberland to crawl out from beneath the shadow of its Comox Valley country cousins, Courtenay and Comox. Until recently, Cumberland fell under the umbrella of the Comox Valley Economic Development Society (CVEDS) to which it paid $40,000 a year. But many Cumberlanders felt for too long that the village was being poorly served by this regional economic development function. So in 2016, Cumberland council voted to opt out of CVEDS. Then, last May, the village hired Chambers, who had relocated from Vancouver four years earlier with his wife and small child, as Cumberland’s first-ever staffer dedicated solely to economic development. The decision to wave so long to CVEDS was more than pragmatic; it was also symbolic, Cumberland’s way of saying it was growing up and no longer willing to play third fiddle to Courtenay and Comox. In keeping with its civic-minded ethos, in 2015 Cumberland became Canada’s first “buy-social” community, adopting a social procurement policy. When contractors were asked to submit bids for a major upgrade to Dunsmuir Avenue, including dedicated bike lanes, part of their bid had to include in-kind or cash contributions to community projects. Consequently, the successful winning bidder J.R. Edgett Excavating donated $10,000 in material and labour to the construction of Cumberland’s new skate park. One phrase that stands out conspicuously in Cumberland’s economic development strategy is attracting the “right kind” of business and investment, something open to wide interpretation. Chambers defines it as “a business that gives back,” and that means more than paying commercial taxes. It’s as much about volunteering to sit on committees and supporting community events as it is about a financial commitment.
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Stroll down Cumberland’s Instagram-ready, heritage main street and you’ll see any number of local businesses who view supporting their
unique community on par with turning a profit. Homegrown firm Harmonic Arts makes plant-based medicinal health products from an operation across from city hall. And last year marked the 15th anniversary of the Riding Fool Hostel, located on the second floor of a two-storey 1895 vintage wooden building that was once the local hardware store. Owner Jeremy Grasby, a key player in local tourism and mountain-biking advocacy, opened the hostel back when Cumberland was still a local’s secret and relatively sleepy. Downstairs from the hostel is Dodge City Cycles, another longtime local business that has weathered more than one slow day of sales before Cumberland was discovered by the hipsters. When owner Dan Espieth decided to get into the bike business in 2000, he could easily name all the
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Kaelin Chambers is the economic development coordinator for Cumberland, which is charting its own economic destiny separate from its previous positioning under the umbrella of the Comox Valley Economic Development Society.
local riders, first and last. Today the trailhead parking lots is often overflowing with vehicles, an increasing number with U.S. plates, and the scene has grown to make it possible for a second bike store (Beaufort Cycles, opened in 2016). For a time, the village was also home to the successful gaming company Hinterland Games, launched by Raphael Van Lierop, but the company shut its studio in Cumberland two years ago and moved to Vancouver while adopting a partially distributed workforce model. It was a loss of well-paying jobs for Cumberland, and indicative that it takes more than a small town vibe to attract and keep businesses. Yet new small businesses continue to pop up and thrive. Half a block off Dunsmuir, six techies gaze at computer screens in the small open concept headquarters of The Update Company, a website design and digital marketing firm. Co-owner Nick Ward is emblematic of
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“new Cumberland,” a well-educated nimble entrepreneur who found the village more by chance than any premeditated planning. In the late 2000s, the Cambridge University-trained engineer left a lucrative job in England with his young family to sail the Atlantic. In 2009, they tied up to a Vancouver Island dock, rented a car and drove around looking for a place to sink some roots. They rolled into Cumberland on a rainy, not particularly inspiring afternoon. A spontaneous conversation with a friendly local inspired them to return for a walk.
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“The historic nature of the town appealed to me. It was rough around the edges but we loved the main street because it was walk-able and it wasn’t a busy thoroughfare,” Ward says. They decided to rent a house for a year and give it a go. In August 2009 the old red brick post office building was put up for rent, so Ward and his wife created themselves a job. Six weeks after signing a lease they opened the Wandering Moose and were serving espressos, baked goods, soup and sandwiches. After six months they sold it to the current owners and Ward went back to working remotely as a consulting engineer and 3D modeler. Then Ward pivoted again. He and his then future business partner Craig van der Merwe sat in the Waverley Hotel pub and sketched plans for a company on the back of the proverbial napkin. In 2011, The Update Company was born and today is a team of nine design and marketing specialists. Ward says they could double in size in the next few years. “Part of my objective was to create wellpaying jobs and inspire others to develop similar businesses,” says Ward, who sits on Cumberland’s economic development steering committee. “Cumberland needs to be clear about what we want, but who is ‘we?’ I’m part of the wave of people that has changed the place,” he adds. As for Mayor Leslie Baird, if winning a popularity contest is the biggest challenge facing Cumberland these days, then there are worse problems to have. “I know what can happen to towns that refuse to change,” she says. The question for Cumberland then, is how much is too much change? ■
Mobile ads continue to drive business growth in 2019 Written by Cassandra Devlin of Marwick Marketing
ach new year brings unique challenges and opportunities, and 2019 will be no different. But as new technologies emerge and customer search habits evolve, you have the opportunity to grow your business and leap ahead of your competitors.
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At Marwick Marketing, Canada’s Premier Google Partner Agency, we’ve seen mobile search continue to be a golden opportunity for moving forward and beating your competitors, with 52.2% of all worldwide online traffic generated through mobile phones. Search ads may not be new, but despite now being a mature and familiar format, they continue to grow at a remarkable pace. In fact, search ad growth is in the double digits and is expected to maintain this pace for quite some time to come. Mobile search has been the driving force in this. As a result, spending on mobile search ads has risen by almost 25% over the past year, with nearly two-thirds of search ad spending directed toward mobile search ads.
Cassandra Devlin, Director of Business Development
local businesses. And 82 percent of those By 2021, it is expected to reach nearly 80%. conducting smartphone searches did so Meanwhile, desktop-based search ad outlays using “near me” in their keyword search have been dropping. request. Mobile use has dominated in other areas Clearly, having your such as social media, with business rank well in 95.1% of Facebook user Consumers are mobile searches will accounts being accessed via now spending result in a great deal mobile devices. Pinterest and more than five of visibility, which will Twitter also see more than hours every prove highly beneficial. 80% of their traffic coming Imagine then, having your through mobile. Consumers day on their business dominate the are now spending more smartphones, top positions in search than five hours every day with 51% of results, whether through on their smartphones, with them saying that Google My Business or 51% of them saying that they they use their simply by ranking in the use their device to find new device to find first position in search brands and products. results. Unsurprisingly, 60% new brands and GOOD NEWS FOR LOCAL of mobile users are likely products. BUSINESS to click on the first two or Google has stated on three search results they multiple occasions that receive, and more than 90% searches done with “local intent” range are likely to click the top result. anywhere between 30 and 50 percent. In a This is where Marwick Marketing comes 2017 survey, 8 out of 10 respondents stated in, putting you where you are most visible, a preference for using a search engine and in front of customers who are most likely when looking to find information about to take action.
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JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
Jenny Payne started out selling her Jenny Marie’s Crackers at local farmers’ markets. They can now be found in grocery shops throughout the Island and the Lower Mainland, and even one in the Yukon. All the crackers are made by hand and packaged by Payne and two employees. From the locally sourced cream and Totem strawberries to the single-source Tumaco chocolate, Lori Joyce knows exactly where every single ingredient comes from for her Betterwith Ice Cream. The premium ice cream is carried in major B.C. grocery stores, such as Thrifty Foods and Whole Foods.
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
■ BY CINDA CHAVICH
PRENEURS Artisan foodpreneurs on Vancouver Island are gaining local success in niche markets, but some feel hampered when they want to expand to bigger buyers and beyond our shores. Fortunately, some help is on the way.
JEFFREY BOSDET/DOUGLAS MAGAZINE
ave you ever had the urge to turn that legendary family recipe into a successful food product? It’s a popular pursuit here on Vancouver Island. Look around your local farmers’ market or neighbourhood food store and you’ll find foodpreneurs of all kinds cooking up everything from artisan pasta and gourmet crackers to charcuterie, sea salt, ice cream and bean-to-bar chocolate. And although Island consumers are strong supporters of local food, there are many challenges when taking an idea from passion to plate. SMALL BUT MIGHTY Jenny Payne is a successful — and typical — local food entrepreneur. You may have sampled her tasty Jenny Marie’s Crackers at a Victoria farmers’ market or purchased them from a local grocer. But sales/marketing is only one of the hats this busy foodpreneur wears. Behind the scenes, Payne is all hands on deck, personally mixing, rolling, cutting, baking and packaging her crackers every week in a tiny commercial kitchen in Victoria’s Rock Bay. Like Payne, foodpreneurs often begin businesses with a passion for a food product, a family recipe or personal specialty, whipped up in their own kitchens. It may be a value-added idea, inspired by what’s growing on the family farm, or a personal health concern that propels them into making something better. These entrepreneurs often start small, launching products at local farmers’ markets. Some don’t get beyond that, but most dream of getting their products onto grocery store shelves. Even with a captive and supportive market, there are special hurdles faced by Island food producers, whether it’s lack of affordable production space and staff or limited processing and distribution infrastructure.
It’s a chicken-and-egg situation, says George Hanson, president of the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA). With a mandate to boost economic development in all sectors on the Island, VIEA recently took aim at the food-processing sector, launching a pilot marketing project called Island Good in early 2018. “We are fully aware that there are production and distribution challenges on the Island,” says Hanson, “but we decided to start on the consumer end rather than the producer end. Growing the market grows the case for fixing those problems.” Hanson says VIEA partnered with grocers Thrifty Foods, Country Grocer, Quality Foods and 49th Parallel, and Island food companies including Hertel Meats, Portofino Bakery, Paradise Island Foods and Saputo, to identify local food products with a special Island Good logo. “The Island is well known as a great place to visit but not as a place where things are made,” says Hanson. “We wanted to improve the competitive advantage for Island businesses and raise public awareness of products produced [here].” After the six-month pilot project ended in September, Hanson says grocers reported a 16-per-cent increase in sales of the local products they promoted with the Island Good logo. The program, administered by VIEA, is now permanent and open to all food producers, processors and distributors on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. There is an application process and annual licensing fee, scaled to the size of the business, to use the Island Good logo, says Hanson. The goal is to increase awareness of Island food products — and to increase demand, investment and employment in the sector. “Islanders are predisposed to shop local,” Hanson says, “and Island Good makes it easier for them to find and purchase Island products.” DOUGLAS 39
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THE ISLAND INCUBATOR The small and physically confined market on Vancouver Island acts like an incubator for new food products. Consumers flock to local farmers’ markets, butchers and bakeries. There are several small, independent grocers in Victoria — including Peppers, Market on Yates, Red Barn Market, Lifestyles Market and The Root Cellar — which support local food producers of meats, produce, baking and other locally-produced food products. But as small foodpreneurs know, moving beyond the farmers’ market to the supermarket requires new levels of food safety and production protocols, including working in an approved commercial kitchen. When Payne’s cracker business grew to include retail customers, she went on the hunt for affordable production space. She bounced between midnight baking marathons in a local café to sharing a kitchen with Singing Bowl Granola foodpreneur Jessica Duncan before finally landing in her own space. “I’ve been in so many kitchens after hours — this one I can use during the day,” says Payne of the 300-square-foot space tucked behind a dance studio where she now bakes and packages 360 boxes of crackers each week. Her sales continue to grow by about 25 per cent each year —with Jenny Marie’s Crackers now sold at Peppers, Whole Foods and some small retail shops — but getting into larger supermarkets has been “extremely challenging,” she says. It would also require scaling up into a bigger bakery and losing control of distribution. “That’s my hesitation: I might have to increase production tenfold and move to a bigger facility,” she says. “[Right now] I bake to order and I am very proud of my product — my worst fear is seeing my crackers sitting in a warehouse and going stale.” It’s been a similar challenge for Matt Horn of Cowichan Pasta Company. The chef-turned-entrepreneur now shares a commercial production space with a caterer and kombucha maker in Duncan but says renting kitchen and storage space is “a huge problem for smaller producers.” Horn makes his healthy, whole-grain Emmer, Spelt, Khorasan and Red Fife pasta
with stone-ground semolina milled by Islandbased True Grain Bread. It’s sold by grocers and served in restaurants across the Island and the Lower Mainland. His products are unique, but competition in the pasta category is stiff. “There’s definitely a following, and more people looking for unique local products, but the retail space is a very difficult space to get into,” he says. “We’ve doubled or tripled our retail sales every year, but the product is handmade, organic and double the price of conventional pasta, and that’s a very hard barrier to break.” Geoff Pinch of Four Quarters Meats has sidestepped that problem by focusing his energy on wholesaling his smoked sausages, bacon and other artisan charcuterie to chefs, restaurants and specialty retailers. After five years, Pinch is at capacity in his production facility in Sidney, and has recently found a distributor to take his product farther afield. “We’ve just broken into the mainland market with Legends Haul, a new Vancouver company that is selling a variety of products that are made at a local, artisanal, craft level,” Pinch says, noting Cowichan Pasta and Tree Island Yogurt are also distributed by Legends Haul. “There are now enough of us little producers to make this kind of distribution company viable.” SELLING FARTHER AFIELD Though launching a food product here at home can help foodpreneurs get off the ground, getting off the Island is important, too, for those who want to grow. “The advantage to launching a product in Victoria and Vancouver Island is that this region has a very educated base of food consumers,” says Taylor Kennedy, entrepreneur behind the award-winning, bean-to-bar Sirene Chocolate. “You have very savvy customers and get good support very quickly. In other cities, that’s not the case. But the population is small [here], so there’s no room for error.” Kennedy sources cocoa beans direct from growers in
Vancouver Island’s food products that have received rave reviews include artisan meats from Four Quarters Meats, ethical chocolate from Sirene, and organic meat alternatives from The Very Good Butchers.
Cowichan Pasta’s dried pasta and frozen ravioli include many local ingredients, such as Vancouver Island Salt Co.’s sea salt, Cowichan Valley beef, B.C. spot prawns, and foraged items like seaweed and mushrooms when in season.
Guatemala, Tanzania, Ecuador and Peru. He makes his chocolate from scratch, roasting and grinding beans, then moulding and packaging the bars by hand in his home-based Victoria studio. His slim Sirene bars command high prices but are among the best in the world. His Tingo Maria Peruvian bar was named the best dark bar out of more than 1,000 North American bean-to-bar products at the 2017 International Chocolate Awards in New York. Kennedy says his business is now growing by 30 to 40 per cent each year. Sixty per cent of his sales are in B.C., but the bars are also in shops in seven countries, in world-class cities like London, Paris, San Francisco and New York. He’s also selling some chocolate in bulk to local chefs and chocolatiers. “Selling abroad has been very tactical,” he says. “People don’t always take you seriously locally until other people take you seriously.” He has considered expanding to a larger retail space and retail storefront in Victoria but says the price of real estate is prohibitive. “People who are struggling aren’t paying attention to the business side,” he says. “Food is a very difficult business — you need to look at the spreadsheets, know the exact costs, the taxes. It all needs to be done ahead of time. It can be quite boring, but you can’t do the fun stuff before you do the work.” DO THE HUSTLE Hustle and chutzpah can take a small entrepreneur far, but cash is key. Several Island food entrepreneurs have been seeking new investors this year, whether by crowdsourcing
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For the first year and a half of her business, Jill Van Gyn loaded up her car with Fatso (her all-natural peanut butter enriched with plant-based superfats) and hand-delivered the product to retailers in Victoria and Vancouver. The company now has 300 retailers across B.C. and Alberta with plans to go nationwide in the next 12 months.
funds on platforms like Kickstarter or appearing on CBC’s Dragons’ Den. Jill Van Gyn is one of the latest locals to appear on The Den, pitching her “superfat” Fatso Peanut Butter, enhanced with coconut, MCT and avocado oils, flax and chia seeds, and prebiotic tapioca fibre. Van Gyn bought the failing local company for $15,000 in 2016 and turned it around. She reformulated the nut butter, found a Canadian co-packer to produce it and re-launched with bold new packaging, raising the Fatso’s value to more than $2 million in less than two years. Van Gyn ultimately turned down the Dragons’ Den deal, but TV exposure has brought new retailers and investors. Fatso is now sold by
more than 300 retailers across Canada and to international customers from Van Gyn’s online shop which, along with warehousing, sales and marketing, is based in Victoria. “Vancouver Island has an amazing reputation for entrepreneurial endeavours and for product development,” says Van Gyn. “I think that living on an island comes with its challenges, and as islanders, we really rise to that and take on those challenges.” The word “hustle” is part of Lori Joyce’s vocabulary too. She knows too well how hard it can be compete in major grocery chains. She launched her premium Betterwith Ice Cream in Vancouver two years ago and has since moved back to her family’s farm in Saanich to market the brand. After a high-profile run developing the Cupcakes bakery chain, Joyce wanted to produce premium ice cream, made with “traceable” milk from an ethical source. It took over two years for her to work out the logistics of obtaining local milk to make her high-fat ice cream base. She then contracted with Avalon Dairy to co-pack her product and launched a line of six flavours in B.C. grocery stores, including Whole Foods, Thrifty Foods, Choices, Nestor’s, Safeway and IGA. While she’s gained wide publicity and endorsements from top Vancouver chefs, Joyce says it’s difficult for a small player in the premium ice cream category. “A lot of small business people don’t go into it understanding what you have to give up to go big,” she says. “I’m competitive — I one hundred per cent wanted to go head-to-head with Häagen Dazs in the category.” Joyce did $1 million in sales in her first year, but her projected growth has not yet materialized, and sales have begun to dip. “I naively thought I could make the best ice cream and that would be good enough,” she says. The cost of prime supermarket shelf space is just one issue facing small startups, but she’s counting on financial and marketing support from a new U.S. partner to expand this year. “I’m not a quitter, but it’s difficult. I want to create the world’s best ice cream, no compromises,” says Joyce. ”You can’t give up.” IF YOU BUILD IT The Very Good Butchers are facing the opposite conundrum, struggling to meet the huge demand for their vegan meat alternatives. “We have scaled up, but we’re maxed out,” says co-owner Mitchell Scott. “We are working 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. most days, and we have a waiting list of more than 100 restaurant and
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grocery customers that want our product.” It’s been a whirlwind of rapid growth since chef James Davison first opened a storefront in the Victoria Public Market in 2017. On opening day, 1,000 customers lined up at The Very Good Butchers for his bean-based burgers, sausages and pulled “pork” sandwiches. He had to close for a week to restock. A year later, Davison and Scott closed the original Denman Island production facility and, with $64,000 raised in a Kickstarter campaign, expanded into a larger restaurant and production kitchen in Victoria Public Market. While the restaurant and retail will remain at the market, in January, the company moved production just down the road to a 4,000-square-foot space complete with new equipment to stuff their vegan sausages and press their burgers. It will increase output five to tenfold, says Scott. Sales in the first year reached $850,000 and topped $1.1 million in 2018. Though the pair pitched the Dragons’ Den in 2018 and sealed a deal with two dragons on air, they eventually walked away from the offer. They’ve since raised nearly $600,000 in a FrontFundr campaign, with the next goal to open a retail butcher shop in Vancouver. COMMUNITY SUPPORT NEEDED There are food technology centres across the Canada which support food processors. B.C. is the only province without such a food tech hub, but it is coming. In its 2018 budget, the provincial government announced it will support development of a new Food Hub Network at the University of British Columbia (UBC), with regional hubs, to provide research, development, processing and equipment resources for food processors. The BC Food Processors Association (BCFPA) and the Island-based Small Scale Food Processors Association (SSFPA) also announced a digital tool this year, BC Food Connection (bcfoodconnection.ca), designed to connect food producers with co-packers, commercial kitchens and other services. “Similar initiatives have been successfully launched in the Ontario and Manitoba food processing sectors, so we are optimistic that we are on the right track,” says SSFPA executive director Candice Appleby. “Having a food innovation centre would really help food producers with that scaling-up piece of the puzzle,” she adds. It all feeds into the growing consumer demand for healthy, artisan food products that support the local economy and encourages more foodpreneurs. So bake up a batch of your family’s famous cinnamon buns, test the market and join the Island’s seasoned foodpreneurs — it just might be a recipe for success. ■
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FIND EVERYTHING RIGHT HERE, IN DOWNTOWN VICTORIA
PHOTOS BY RICK COLLINS, RICKCOLLINSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
ver rolled your eyes at the lifestyle entrepreneur dream sold to bright young minds as *the* solution to creating more freedom and impact? You know, the one telling our directionquestioning loved ones to pack their bags and start their business online from anywhere in the world? Yup, we have, too. Travelling is fantastic but there’s no need to pack a laptop and travel to the other side of the earth to finally find the freedom, community, connection and inspiration required to kickstart your dream. Truth is, becoming a successful entrepreneur is about more than what you do or where you go, it’s about WHO you are on the journey. And downtown Victoria is *the* local destination that’s as unique as you, and your entrepreneurial dream. Why? Because here, in downtown Victoria, you can be everything you are, and become anything you want to be. Innovative, creative, spontaneous, courageous, etc. It’s all fair game. Chance encounters are abundant here. And by “chance”, we mean those unexpected meetings that change your luck, spark new connections, ignite collaborations and prompt invitations, resulting in a step (or leap) towards your goal(s). If you’re already a downtown entrepreneur, you know what we mean. Your business is happening
here because this is where everything happens, it’s the place that makes your brand of genius happen. Proof? We host some of Canada’s and North America’s fastest growing businesses — like SendtoNews and Flytographer. Not to mention the many other wonderful locally-owned businesses that make the experience of living and working here vibrant! So, while we completely agree it’s fun to go on a trip for fun and rejuvenation, you can find everything else right here, in downtown Victoria. We invite you to schedule a bit of serendipity in your day: Plan to BE here for a bit, plant some roots, and we promise you’ll see your business—and the entrepreneur in you—grow. – Anne-Sophie Dumetz, for Downtown Victoria
Ellen DeGeneres does it. So do Bradley Cooper and LeBron James. It’s the passion and practice of vintage-watch collecting — a global movement with local experts and aficionados. BY CINDA CHAVICH
PHOTOS BY JEFFERY BOSDET
I NEVER THOUGHT MUCH ABOUT MY WATCH UNTIL THE DAY IT DIED. A sturdy, utilitarian Swiss timepiece, it’s been on my wrist for more than two decades, keeping me punctual for interviews and making sure I never missed a flight, long before the ubiquitous smartphone became the preferred method for checking time. How I broke a little hole in the crystal I really don’t know, but there it was, the tiny shards of crushed glass dancing across the watch face like a snow globe. It wasn’t a good day for my watch — the red second hand stopped in its tracks — but it did lead to a fortuitous meeting with a gaggle of young watchmakers and a glimpse into the amazing world of watch collectors.
I envisioned the Norman Rockwell image of a watchmaker, an aging gent surrounded by clocks and buckets of watch parts, peering through a loupe while tinkering with a tiny timepiece. That’s what you would have found here for most of the last 30 years, when it was home to Edwin’s Clocks and Watches and the beloved watchmaker Edwin Lee. Mossop and Trudel both learned their skills from Lee — Trudel worked alongside him here for several years. Mossop befriended Lee and, under his tutelage, was soon restoring rare watches and selling them online, eventually becoming a skilled watchmaker himself.
THE WATCH GEEKS When I first stepped into Victoria’s Meticulous Modern and Vintage Watch Repair, I was immediately struck by the group of youthful experts in the crowded downtown shop, all bent over the task of servicing wristwatches. They spirited my old Sigma away and a few days later had it restored with a new movement and shiny crystal, hopefully to live to tell the time for another decade or so. They also opened my eyes to the fascinating world of watches — the beauty and history of mechanical movements, the “quartz crisis” of the 1980s that nearly eclipsed the time-honoured art of horology, and the hot new market for old-fashioned, ticking timepieces. From the ebullient Tara Trudel and her young colleague Levi Sinclair, to shop owner and expert watchmaker Jonathan Mossop, Meticulous is ground zero for watch geeks. Not only can they quote chapter and verse on almost any watch ever made, they can fix them, even if it means hunting down or fabricating old, rare, irreplaceable parts. With the time displayed on every electronic device we carry these days, it’s surprising to learn that the oldfashioned watch repair business is booming. 46 DOUGLAS
A Swiss-made, 1940s Minerva chronograph caliber 20CH in for repair at Meticulous Modern and Vintage Watch Repair. Expert watchmaker and Meticulous owner Jonathan Mossop trained with renowned Victoria watch expert Edwin Lee, who had designed watches in Hong Kong before moving to Victoria where he ran his watch business for 40 years.
When Lee died in 2016, Mossop took over and opened Meticulous in the tiny space, providing a bricks-and-mortar home for his virtual vintage watch store, styleintime.com. It’s an extension of his main watchmaking studio, inside the historic Francis Jewellers, where more vintage watches are on display. Whether it’s a sleek Longines Mystery Dial Automatic, circa 1960, or a rare Movado Diver’s Chronograh, Mossop buys, restores and sells watches of all kinds too. “Vintage watches never seem to go out of style,” he says, recalling the sleek 1930s tank watch that first lured him into the world of collecting. “They convey that unique sense of history and rarity — and they are fascinating little micro-machines.”
DYING ART, GROWING HOBBY When the battery-operated quartz movement flooded the market with cheap and reliable
watches in the 1970s, it looked like the finicky, mechanical watch might finally be consigned to the dustbin of history. But it lived on, especially in the luxury brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega and Cartier, still among the world’s most sought-after, collectible watches. A quartz watch is a more reliable timekeeper, but there’s still a lot of love for these mechanical marvels. In fact, collecting watches is the new hot hobby of the rich and famous. Ellen DeGeneres and Eric Clapton are horology hounds — both collectors of iconic Rolex watches. Charlie Sheen has a multi-million-dollar collection, including a rare Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar worth a cool $700,000. And the big news this year was the record sale of a vintage watch at auction for $17.8 million — the famous Rolex Cosmograph Daytona that Joanne Woodward gave her movie star husband Paul Newman back in 1968. Thanks to modern computer connections,
it’s easy to browse the world for rare, unique and luxury timepieces. You’ll find brand ambassadors, bloggers, reviewers and retailers to help you hone your hobby. There are also watch collector clubs like the cultish RedBar Group, a New York City-based watch collectors’ club with chapters around the world. Here in the capital, there’s the Victoria Watch Collective, a group of local collectors who meet several times a year to buy, sell and share their passion for high-end horology. I find the Victoria Watch Collective at one of their regular meetings at a downtown hotel. As the sun sets over the inner harbour, a group of mostly men gather for an informal “showand-tell,” arranging their coveted collections on tables around the room, sipping cocktails and talking timepieces. Bill Naughton, Victoria’s former deputy police chief, displays 10 of his favourite wristwatches in a glass-topped wooden display DOUGLAS 47
case and tells me about travelling around the world in search of his next find. “I was in northern Italy this summer, in Verona, and there were eight vintage watch dealers on the main drag alone,” says Naughton. “The hunt is always motivating.” Naughton says he’s found vintage watches in antique stores and thrift shops, even at garage sales. A watch issued to the French Navy in the 1970s was pulled out of a bin of random watches at a French antique fare and acquired for just 20 Euros. “For me, I’m driven by the esthetics, but also the history,” he says. “Imagine if that watch could talk.” Whether it’s his favourite Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch — the iconic chronograph that Buzz Aldrin wore while walking on the moon — or his collection of dive watches, Naughton says, “I like watches that work for a living.” Tonight he’s showing off his collection of stylish Halios dive watches, a boutique brand, made in Vancouver, with a cult following among collectors.
WHAT MAKES A WATCH COLLECTIBLE? Most collectors admit they have a soft spot for a particular brand or style of watch — perhaps a watch first worn by a grandfather or a timepiece associated with famous historical events, films or celebrities. James Bond always has an Omega on his wrist — an elegant Seamaster with blue dial in Casino Royale, a classic black Seamaster Planet Ocean in Skyfall. Martin Sheen made the Seiko 6105 famous when he wore it in Apocalypse Now. Collectors speak about their watches like living things, and when you see the balance wheel moving rhythmically inside, it’s like peering into a mechanical beating heart. But whether you’ve got the cash for a $50,000 Patek Philippe or just $500 for basic vintage mechanical, there’s a place to start a collection. Rick Anthony, another former police officer, collects all kinds of military objects and especially loves watches issued to army or navy personnel. “I like the look of dive watches to wear, but I also look for military watches, which were often chronograph watches,” says Anthony. “Rolex made watches for the British army, Hamilton or Elgin for the U.S. army. I have Gruen watches from the 1960s, Benrus from the 1940s — these are all military style.” Anthony found one of his favourite watches in the breast pocket of a Vietnam-era army uniform he bought in a Las Vegas thrift store. But many of the 25 to 30 watches in his collection are new models — like his Seiko and Glycine dive watches. Tonight he sports a modern, Canadian-made Marathon military-spec watch issued to Allied troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It’s water, sand, impact-proof and it uses tritium on the face. It lights up in a pitch-black room,” he says. “There’s also a slide rule around it — I have no idea how it works, but I love the look.”
FOR LOVE AND INVESTMENT Watch collecting can be expensive. You need to spend money to make money, but a smart collection can pay healthy dividends down the road. “Buying a vintage Rolex can be an extremely good investment,” says Mossop. “You can buy a watch, wear it, 48 DOUGLAS
5 TO WATCH COLLECTOR ITEMS
Longines Mystery Dial The mystery dial watch dates from the 1960s, and its minute hand seems to float by itself, with the hour hand represented by the star.
Movado 3-Register Diver Chronograph This vintage 1960s watch is one of the most difficult Movado chronograph models to find, making it coveted by collectors.
Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar When watch collectors think of Patek Philippe, they generally think of the round perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona One of the most iconic watches ever made, the Rolex Daytona is a true collector’s piece. Paul Newman’s recently sold at auction for $17.8 million.
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch This renowned line of timepieces has been part of all six lunar missions and endorsed by NASA as the first watch on the moon.
enjoy it and then sell it and still make money.” Depending on which watch you buy, whether new or used, the value can double or triple in a matter of years. But don’t count on it. Though many luxury watches hold their value, only about 20 per cent represent a profitable investment, according to timerating.com, which tracks watch values for dozens of models against inflation and the stock market. The Rolex Submariner, for example, increased in value by nearly 300 per cent between 1994 and 2016, above average in their portfolio of 260 well-known watches. It’s easy to browse the latest releases from the world’s top watchmakers online, though it’s important to know what you’re buying and from whom. If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is because after textiles, watches are the most routinely counterfeited product in the world. And with advances in manufacturing and 3D printing, even experts concede that today’s best fakes are nearly impossible to spot. Most collectors get burned by a fake at least once — Rolex, Omega and Breitling famously being knocked off — while some even collect “replica” watches and “faux-lexes”. With so much money to be made, there are also “Frankenwatches,” made with real parts but worth far less than the originals. These days, most sellers know what their watch is worth, but Mossop says he still has those Antiques Roadshow moments. “The days of finding something really special at a thrift shop are rare, but they still happen,” he says. “A guy brought in a broken watch that he bought for five bucks and I paid him $9,000.” Many people inherit valuable watches too, he says. It can pay to bring in that old watch that’s gathering dust in your dresser drawer. “Especially the sport models, tool watches, diving or flight watches,” Mossop says. “A good Rolex can be worth more than you think.” It’s always safest to ask a professional like Mossop to value and authenticate a watch, and there are many virtual vintage watch stores, including analogshift.com, hodinkee.com and hqmilton.com. Chrono24.com lists 300,000 watches from 10,000 dealers around the world. Luxury timepieces come with high price tags, whether it’s the latest Omega Speedmaster ($5,000 US), a cool Jaeger LeCoultre Polaris Memovox ($12,600 US), or a rare Christophe Claret Maestro Mamba with sculpted serpent coiled through the mechanical movement ($96,000).
TIME TRAVEL I’ve been sucked down the rabbit hole of the watch world, learning the difference between mineral and (infinitely better) sapphire crystals and the magic of miniature springs and gears moving behind exhibition cases. I’ve also developed a bit of a hodinkee.com habit and can no longer pass a thrift store without a quick look through boxes of old watches, just in case someone has discarded a mechanical gem. The classic Norman Rockwell painting, with a curious young boy and an old-school watchmaker, captures all of the wonder of watches and their tiny, ticking hearts, the physical evidence that, as the world turns, time marches on. ■
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EDUCATION AND CAREER SECTION
Boost Your Education
Without Quitting Your Day Job IF MOVING UP THE CAREER LADDER IS YOUR GOAL, THERE ARE WAYS TO BOOST YOUR SKILLS WITHOUT SACRIFICING YOUR INCOME.
Moving up the professional ladder can be a grind, but the financial and professional gains can make it worth the effort, and one of the best ways to do this is to advance your education. Whether you are looking to move up with your current employer, transfer to a new company or eventually change careers, there are compelling studies that show the value of upgrading your education. A 2017 survey from Career Builder found that 32 per cent of employers are increasing educational requirements for new hires, and 27 per cent are recruiting people with master’s degrees for jobs that once required only bachelor degrees.
WHERE TO BEGIN
When considering a skills upgrade, start by really zeroing in on your specific goals. Do you want to move into a management position and increase your leadership skills? Maybe your technology skills need a boost to keep up with job or market demands, or perhaps you have your eye on another company that’s more in line with your goals. If salary is a big motivator for you, find out what skills you’ll need to achieve that higher pay before choosing an education program. Many employers recognize the advantages of having employees who are keen to stay at the forefront of their field
and many will pay — fully or in part — for educational programs that relate back to the individual’s current and future role at the company. If your employer can’t or won’t pay for your education, Canada’s Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) allows you to withdraw up to $10,000 in a calendar year from your registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) to finance full-time training or education for you or your spouse or common-law partner.
Register now for Fall 2019
It’s important to have reasonable expectations of what you can achieve education-wise while you are still working in your job. Consider that you may need to take evening or weekend classes, or combine online work with travel to periodic in-class seminars. Fortunately, many employers will now consider flex-time if they see that their organizations will benefit from a boost in employee education. Various programs on Vancouver Island offer continuing education classes designed to aid working adults in studying anything from courses designed to improve Excel spreadsheet skills or the pursuit of a master’s of business administration. Online programs are also increasingly available through many colleges and universities.
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On Vancouver Island, Camosun College, the University of Victoria, Royal Roads University, Vancouver Island University and the Academy of Learning offer extensive continuing education courses and programs tailored to the full-time working adult. Camosun’s digital marketing and socialmedia program, for instance, shows students how to craft, implement and evaluate a digital communications strategy that works for their particular goals and creates opportunities for engagement. Basic website design can be learned through their WordPress classes, and various spreadsheet strategies can be learned through their essential formulas Excel class.
Showing your employer that you value their company and are committed to advancing is one obvious plus of boosting your education. But on a personal side, studies have shown that people who pursue continuing education experience higher levels of personal satisfaction and confidence than employees with the same titles who don’t. Though the idea of going back to school might seem overwhelming in the beginning, the overall individual and professional benefits make a good argument for pursuing it. DOUGLAS 51
Welcome to Victoria
Career Skills AS WE APPROACH 2020
YOU HAVE ARRIVED Make the Business Hub at City Hall your first stop!
Social Intelligence Ability to connect with others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired outcomes.
Novel & Adaptive Thinking Proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based.
Computational Thinking Ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and understand data-based reasoning.
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Ability to operate in different cultural settings.
Literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines.
Virtual Collaboration Ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate presence as part of a virtual team.
Design Mindset Ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes.
Cognitive Load Management Ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand cognitive functions.
SOURCE: PHOENIX UNIVERSITY, FUTURE WORK SKILLS 2020, TOP10ONLINECOLLEGES.ORG
Ability to critically assess and develop content in new media forms,and to leverage new media for persuasive communication.
Ability to figure out the deeper significance or meaning of what is being said.
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New Media Literacy
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Is Providing Education Good for Business?
any employers worry that funding the education of an employee will be money down the drain if that employee decides to take their new knowledge to another job elsewhere. And while this is certainly a risk (albeit not a common one), the flip side is that investing in an employee can create positive and longreaching benefits for a business.
A CASE FOR EDUCATION
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According to a 2012 study by The EvoLLLution, an online resource for higher education, 96 per cent of employers surveyed across North America said continuing education improves job performance and 87 per cent said it has a positive impact on pay scale, with many citing a direct correlation, especially in the healthcare field. Similarly, firms rated as top workplaces often provide training and continual learning opportunities for their employees. Helping employees upgrade their education also serves to retain top talent, who are less likely to move elsewhere because of the company’s demonstrated belief in their
capacity to grow. On the flipside, according to Forbes.com, a lack of growth opportunities is one of the key reasons for employee turnover. In fact, 87 per cent of millennials say professional development is important in a job.
EQUAL ACCESS IS KEY Reserving education for the top employees at your company may seem like a good idea, but people at all levels of training and experience benefit from continued learning. Proving to employees that they are valued individuals by paying — wholly or in part — for their continuing education fosters feelings of motivation within the workplace. Furthermore, it boosts employee loyalty, which saves an employer money on staffing changes and retraining. A 2016 Gallup survey showed that millennial turnover due to a lack of engagement at work costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually, so it may be wise for employers to reach out to employees, regardless of their generation, to ask who is interested in pursuing field-related professional development opportunities. It could just provide a big boost in staying power.
PERCENTAGE OF EMPLOYERS SURVEYED ACROSS NORTH AMERICA WHO SAID CONTINUING EDUCATION IMPROVES JOB PERFORMANCE.
A 2012 STUDY BY THE EVOLLLUTION, AN ONLINE RESOURCE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION
PERCENTAGE OF EMPLOYEES WHO SAY THEY AREN’T REACHING THEIR POTENTIAL AT WORK. MIDDLESEX UNIVERSITY INSTITUTE FOR WORKPLACE-BASED LEARNING, 2016
of HR professionals cited training and education programs as the most effective recruiting tool at their disposal. 2017 EMPLOYEE BENEFITS REPORT BY THE SOCIETY FOR HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Employees with access to professional development opportunities are 15% more engaged in their jobs, which leads to a 34% higher retention rate.
This means those employees are not only more productive day to day, but less likely to leave their positions, which saves employers an average turnover cost of six to nine months of an employee’s salary. BETTER BUYS SURVEY, 2018
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INTEL THE BIGGEST MISTAKES To help you avoid big investment-seeking mistakes, I reached out to some local angel investors for their take on the mistakes they see entrepreneurs making and their advice for raising money.
Humaira Ahmed, CEO of Locelle, pitches at SAAS North in Ottawa. Locelle is a social health benefit app that can be offered as part of the onboarding package by companies who want attract and retain top female talent and focus on inclusion and diversity.
STEPHANIE ANDREW Founding partner, Women’s Equity Lab; co-executive director, Capital Investment Network H igh valuations that are
U sing Simple Agreement
ENTREPRENEUR BY ERIN SKILLEN
Trying to Fund Your Startup? Avoid These Top 5 Mistakes Seeking startup investment can be a nail-biter, as our writer knows from personal experience. Here, she shares what not to do — and what the experts say.
nce upon a time, I was a startup founder with a dream to create a socially conscious gaming company that would inspire kids to make the world a better place. Our first game would be a business simulation where kids would create a skateboard company focused on the triple bottom line — people, planet and profit. I’d find investors who believed in my vision and they would provide the investment to make it happen. Hard “NOPE” on that one. I did get interest — and I did come close to raising money more than once — but, ultimately, I got nothing. Well, nothing financial anyway. But I did learn some powerful lessons from my mistakes.
BEING UNKNOWN I spent the first 15 or so years of my career working with film-related organizations and then as the VP/co-owner of a production company. I got to produce, direct, write and even host documentaries that were meaningful to me. When the 56 DOUGLAS
industry shifted away from documentary to reality TV, I decided to shift too. I moved into the tech sector and reinvented my career. I knew very few people in the industry and had to hustle to establish myself. As time went on, I did build a team of co-founders and mentors, but I was still relatively unknown,
with zero gaming experience. What I really needed was a champion who was well known in the investment community and willing to put their own money behind me, while encouraging others to do the same. I didn’t have that. Other deals available at the time had players who were better known, with the right champions behind them to lead their round. I had lots of supporters, but few people willing to put their skin in the game.
Mistake 2 BEING OVERLY FAMILIAR I’m a proponent of being authentic and vulnerable. Sometimes, though, “authentically you” might not be the best persona to embody when pitching for investment.
for Future Equity (SAFE) unnecessarily N ot taking time to build a relationship before expecting a financial commitment B acking down on promises once a deal closes L ack of transparency F inancials with non-income items classified under revenue B eing overly pushy at the wrong times e.g. in social situations A poor pitch presentation (sending someone junior to do a pitch) B eing cranky/passive aggressive when an investor doesn’t respond fast enough G oing after the wrong angels
ANDREW WILKINSON Founder/chair, MetaLab; cofounder, Dribbble; founder, Tiny, a company that starts, buys and invests in internet companies. N ot having a plan for the
Not having an MVP H aving a silly valuation with
nothing to back it up
I participated in a pitch competition where I decided to be my unfiltered, completely real self. I thought it would be funny and charming. Now, that approach can work when you’re pitching one-on-one or to a small group and are able to read the response and adjust as you go. But when you’re pitching to a large panel of investors and funders, it can come off as unprofessional and possibly even disrespectful. These weren’t my friends — they were people seeking a good investment with someone who knew what they were doing. That’s not what I presented to them.
THE CHICKEN AND THE EGG My pitch had a problem — I needed money to create the game, and I needed the game to get the money. But I only had enough money and time for my team to create a simple Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Without a track record in the gaming industry, that wasn’t enough. We were stuck. Without a product or investment it was — wait for it — game over.
COUNTING CHICKENS Speaking of chickens, I learned this next lesson the hard way: a deal isn’t signed until it’s signed. Don’t assume the money is in the bank until it’s really in the bank. We had an investor ready to give us “up to 100K.” We had an organization “ready to sign a contract for 150K.” And when the organization backed out due to budget cuts, our investor bailed too. We got nothing but the life lesson.
I LIKE YOU, BUT I DON’T LOVE YOU My failure to raise the money needed to launch my gaming company was a combination of many things, but there was one major flaw that fundamentally doomed it — frankly, I didn’t give a sh-t about video games. I cared deeply about social impact, about teaching kids about
conscious businesses and all of the incredible learning our game would provide. I just wasn’t a gamer. And if the CEO/founder isn’t passionate about the industry they’re in, then why should anyone else give them money to pursue it? As entrepreneurs, we need to live and breathe our businesses. Being in love with the potential impact isn’t enough.
THE LESSONS CONTINUE There are a lot of variables in raising investment — your industry, your product or service, your stage of business, your team, and so on, so it’s important to do your research and go in prepared. Failure sucks, but it’s not a true failure if you learn from your mistakes and have the guts to do better as you try again,just as I plan to do this year by seeking to raise investment for a much less niche company that I’m deeply passionate about.
Erin Skillen is the COO/Co-Founder of FamilySparks, a mental wellness startup for families and businesses. She is also a VIATEC board member.
RASOOL RAYANI President, Heart Pharmacy; founder, Pomme Natural Markets; and advisor and investor in technology companies
INVESTOR TALK Many prospective
investors say yes until they say no. Until you have closed someone and have cash in the bank, you haven’t closed them.
investors say no until they say yes. Polite persistence and regular updates that show traction, conviction and focus can shift perspectives over time. Be polite. Desist when asked. Be gracious.
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YELLOW DOUGLAS 57
Catchbox, the world’s first throwable mic system, is a great way to encourage inclusion and raise positive energy at team meetings.
WHO IS A POSITIVE DEVIANT?
In every business or organization, there are people or teams whose behaviour enables them to find better solutions to problems than their peers. These people have the same resources and face the same challenges or roadblocks as their peers, yet they manage to avoid problems that negatively impact the rest of the company or group.
HOW TO HARNESS POSITIVE DEVIANCE BREAKTHROUGH BY ALEX VAN TOL
Positively Deviant How small, deviant acts of positivity can change your company culture for the better.
ast fall I attended the DisruptHR conference, a global event organized in Victoria by Engaged HR. Nine speakers took the stage, each with a razor-thin five minutes to engage the audience and deliver big insights. When Nanaimo-based consultant Deborah Connors emerged from behind the curtain to talk about how small actions can lead to big changes, I knew I’d found our next breakthrough idea. “I want you to think back to the best job you ever had,” Connors began. “What was it that you loved so much about it?” She gave us a couple of seconds to think, then put the key in the lock. “I’ll bet it’s because you felt good when you went to work,” she said. “The culture is what we remember about a great workplace.” She’s right. A great work culture is where people are engaged, contributing, making decisions, patting each other on the back, laughing, collaborating and looking for solutions instead of complaining about problems. So how do you get to there from here? You deviate. In a positive way.
People typically lose their enthusiasm at work because of their relationship with their immediate supervisor, Connors notes. “Yet we’re working on that downstream.”
FIND THE FIX WHAT IS POSITIVE DEVIANCE? Connors, president of Well-Advised Consulting and author of A Better Place to Work: Daily Practices that Transform Culture, defines positive deviance as the act of regularly taking small but meaningful actions that inject positivity into the workplace. These actions must be both intentional and honourable, and they must be a departure from your organizational norms in order to be truly called positive deviations. In business, it all starts with the upstream culture — and that starts with you as a leader because everything flows from the culture you and your leadership team establish. In negative workplaces — or those on a negative slide — we tend to see downstream mitigation of culture problems. Take, for example, an employee whose job it is to manage attendance, leaves of absence or return-to-work programs. “If you have to manage attendance, there’s something wrong with the culture,” says Connors. “Whereas if people are just off when they’re sick, you don’t have a problem.”
The fix is upstream, where you create the “feel” of your workplace. Here’s how it works: instead of putting out little fires everywhere, light little fires everywhere. The purpose is to expand feelings of belonging, purpose and harmony. Offer these to your people constantly, and in return, they’ll give more of themselves to your organization. As an added bonus, they’ll help you light more little fires. In the U.K., positive deviance has been the driver of the National Health Service’s gradual decline in patient deaths across its hospitals and health institutions, where a 5-per-cent boost in positivity among work teams corresponded to a 3.3-per-cent decrease in patient mortality. Sounds small, but it adds up to 40 lives a year. Here are a few positive behaviours that are intentional, honourable and that deviate from the norm. Pick a couple and try them in your office: Find ways to develop your own and your team’s emotional intelligence (EI). Talk about EI concepts like motivation, self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and social skills. Bring
First, you want to identify those people who manage to thrive in situations where most others fail. Then you need to figure out what they are doing that is different from the others. Once you’ve done that, harness their process and get everyone to engage in the same actions to solve the problem.
In The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World’s Toughest Problems (Oxford University), authors Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin and Monique Sternin take a counterintuitive approach to problemsolving. Their advice? Leverage positive deviants — the rare people in a group who find unique ways to look at and overcome seemingly insoluble difficulties.
a professional in to help your team develop these competencies. Spend time with your employees to discover their purpose. Start with ‘What’s our purpose as an organization?’ This helps you articulate your vision, mission and values, and it should always be done with the group, never delivered from the top down. When everyone buys in, it simplifies future discussions when things crop up that don’t fit with your values.
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Practice mindfulness. Invite a coach to guide your team in mindfulness practices or even meditation. Research shows this has been a game changer for blue-chip executives. Why wouldn’t it be for you and your team?
Make gratitude a focus. Research shows people are less likely to express gratitude at work than anywhere else. Yet a simple thank you to a colleague who has done a fine job goes a long way. “The practice of writing down three or more things you’re grateful for is the easiest thing that, over time, increases positive emotion,” Connors says. “Start a meeting with a round of gratitude. When you do that, you shift the culture of the meeting.” Or try a gratitude wall. At Starfish Medical’s meetings in Victoria, staff toss around a Catchbox, the world’s first throwable microphone, so they can share kudos for jobs well done. Adopt appreciative inquiry. Ask, “Who are we when we’re at our best?” instead of “What are the issues?” Change the framing. Try this at a retreat, where people have a chance to describe themselves when they’re at their best. Then watch them live up to it.
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Reflect on your own hypocrisies. Are you replying to emails on a Sunday afternoon when you’ve assured your staff they don’t have to? As Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said, “What you do has far greater impact than what you say.” Remember, you are always on display as a leader — and your behaviour begets your team’s behaviour.
GET ENGAGED Positive deviance should not be confused with whistle-blowing, corporate citizenship or corporate responsibility. Rather, it concerns actions with honourable intentions that are done for the sake of . . . well, being honourable. And making things feel better. And isn’t that the way you want your people to feel? ■
Alex Van Tol works with organizations to shape and communicate their brand stories. From real estate to tech, she uncovers what makes organizations tick — and what can help them grow.
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Are You Really So Certain? Letting go of the myth of certainty is so uncomfortable that we’ll do anything — or believe anything — to avoid it. But embracing uncertainty is the only way we can grow.
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ne of the most frustrating things about growing a business is the number of blind spots. We can’t see into the future. We can’t see into the hearts of our employees or our customers. And we can’t see disasters coming or know how long we should hang on before we fold. A useful tool to help us assess our levels of certainty is a simplified variation of the Johari Window, a matrix developed by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in the 1950s. In the matrix, you either know something or you don’t. When you know that you don’t know something, you at least have a choice to fix that, but things become less certain in the “unknown” bottom quadrants of the matrix. The darkest corner in all that unknown space is in the lower right corner where you don’t know what you don’t know. Some people find that uncertainty so disconcerting that they turn to anyone who promises a certain view of the future — and that’s a mistake. So what should you do instead?
PERILS OF PREDICTION There are two things you can do. First, ignore the fortune tellers, those armchair entrepreneurs or inspirational speakers who are so confident they know exactly why ToysR-Us or Target failed, and why Canada Goose and Real Estate Webmasters succeeded. These “experts” assume that patterns of management (good or bad) from the past create road maps for the future. But there are two problems with most of their click-bait analyses: they’re wrong and they create false expectations. Even if predicting the future were a reasonable activity (which it is not), where would we ever find enough information and insight to do so? In his book Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman addresses this problem, describing an unconscious bias known as What You See Is All There Is (WYSIATI). This bias essentially leads us to believe we know everything we need to know to predict what should happen next. Of course we don’t — and we can’t. It’s not that there aren’t good and bad
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5 BLIND SPOTS YOU NEED TO KNOW PROJECTION BIAS The tendency to assume that most people think just like us, even though there may be no justification for it. SELF-SERVING BIAS The tendency for people to think they’re better than average. CONFIRMATION BIAS The often unconscious act of referencing only those perspectives that fuel our pre-existing views, while at the same time ignoring or dismissing opinions — no matter how valid — that threaten our world view. INGROUP BIAS The propensity to overestimate the abilities and value of our immediate group at the expense of people we don’t really know. HINDSIGHT BIAS The tendency, after we learn the outcome of something, to insist we “knew it all along.” REFERENCE: “12 COGNITIVE BIASES THAT PREVENT YOU FROM BEING RATIONAL,” GEORGE DVORSKY, GIZMODO.COM; “WE STRUGGLE WITH OBJECTIVITY,” NATHAN A. HEFLICK PHD, PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.COM
business practices. It’s that a practice isn’t predictive, and being really good at something isn’t the same as having foreknowledge. The mechanical certainty of “if this, then that,” of action and consequence, is artificial and deceptive. In the real world, there are only probabilities and expert intuitions. We do love our confident gurus though, because uncertainty gets overwhelming, and a little certainty is such a relief that we welcome even the shysters who offer it.
SWIMMING WITH THE BLACK SWAN Another black hole in the “smart people do a better job at seeing stuff coming” certainty myth is called a Black Swan. You may already be familiar with this concept from author Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s bestseller The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. According to Taleb, a Black Swan is a rare event that’s impossible to predict, and one that in hindsight we think we should have seen coming. You hear pundits falling into the Black-Swan myth constantly, saying things like, “How could they have missed ...?” or “The consequences were inevitable!” But predicting Black Swans is impossible — you can’t create a pattern of something that happens only once or twice in a lifetime.
a business, and too often the more successful an entrepreneur is, the harder it is to become more collaborative. An example is someone who can’t let go of the certainty that they’re the only ones who can do the job right. (“I’ve been successful so far, so why jeopardize that by involving others? What got me here will get me there.”) That’s managing by habit. To guard against this, embrace an attitude of uncertainty and realize that growing successfully in the face of uncertainty requires collaboration. Collaboration opens the fourth corner in the matrix: You don’t know what you don’t know — but someone else might.
STEPPING INTO THE UNKNOWN So yes, while it is comforting to feel certain, cultivating an attitude of uncertainty is where the growth is. That requires the humility to acknowledge we don’t know anything for sure — and the confidence to move forward anyway. That is the heart of the successful entrepreneur. ■
Clemens Rettich is a business consultant with Grant Thornton LLP. He has an MBA from Royal Roads University and has spent 25 years practising the art of management.
THE RIGHT ANSWER IS NICE, BUT IT IS ALSO A DEAD END. THE RIGHT QUESTION IS FAR MORE POWERFUL. GETTING REAL So if the certainty — that snake oil of foolproof-ness — isn’t the way forward, what is? Start by embracing reality — we don’t know everything we need to know and we can’t predict what’s coming. Recognize that certainty is a mirage that leads to stagnation, then learn to nurture a confident attitude of uncertainty. The benefits of this approach are:
• You’ll grow your business based on what is rather than on what should be. • You’ll anticipate change, which makes you more likely to behave creatively and to rely less on expectations and formulas. So how do you break through and truly nurture that attitude of uncertainty? It begins with acceptance: Acceptance of uncertainty: There is more uncertainty than certainty in anything we attempt. The attitude of uncertainty is at the core of everything from good science (there are far more hypotheses than laws) to the Toyota Production System. The right answer is nice, but it is also a dead end. The right question is far more powerful. Acceptance of creative agility: Human genius lies in agile, creative responses to reality, not in the hubris of “knowing” the future. We have to embrace the reality that we can’t know everything we need to know, yet must act anyway. We have to learn to act with agility and responsive creativity built on skills and practices, not crystal balls. So deepen your practice of things like design theory, lean or agile processes, and strengthen core traits such as emotional intelligence. Acceptance of collaboration: The absence of collaboration is the biggest hurdle in growing
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Quazar’s employee Jules Loiselle plays one of the arcade’s vintage pinball machines.
FIRED UP FOR THE ARCADE You can almost hear Elton John singing “Pinball Wizard” as you step into Quazar’s Arcade in Victoria’s Trounce Alley. With about 40 games on the floor at any one time, and an additional 40-plus being restored, Quazar’s is a hub for rare pinball games like Alien and Indiana Jones and rare arcade games, including an original Space Invaders. “As far as we know, we have the largest selection of dedicated pinball and arcade games in Western Canada,” says Steve Webb, who
launched Quazar’s in late 2018 with his brother Brian Webb and Justin Lafreniere. “We’re not a barcade [serving alcohol],” he says. “We’re an arcade in the classical 80s sense.” “It’s a huge social experience,” says Lafreniere. “You have arcade machines that can be played by four people or pinball machines where families can compete over racking up the biggest number.” “Seeing kids playing these games with their mothers and fathers and
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watching their eyes light up is really fun,” adds Webb. And some customers love the opportunity for a digital holiday. “You’ve got to put your phone down,” says customer Justin Metcalfe. “I think many people have been in the digital world so long they want to escape.” While the surge of digital pushed pinball machines from favour, some savvy collectors snapped them up for peanuts. Now, an arcade renaissance is driving up the price of these machines as new ones hit the market and
collectors sell for top dollar. Many of Quazar’s machines were purchased from a collector on Vancouver Island. “When we saw her collection it was mind blowing,” says Lafreniere. Also mind blowing was an Instagram congratulations to Quazar’s from actor Jeff Goldblum of Independence Day and Jurassic Park fame, who Lefreniere has met a few times. The Quazar’s boys are now hoping Goldblum will visit in person. And yes, they do have a Jurassic Park pinball game for if and when that day comes.
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