Entrepreneurial tips from six past Bears’ Lair winners and finalists

Deadline to apply for this year's competition is February 15, 2018

Last year's winners of the Bears' Lair entrepreneurial competition, Tim and Dan Waggoner of Loch Effects and Alex Bushshell and Steve Wright of Lab Improvements, have some advice for entrepreneurs entering the 2018 competition, along with four other past winners and finalists of the competition. The deadline to apply for this year's Bears' Lair is February 15, 2018. (Photo: Samantha Moss / MossWorks Photography)
Last year's winners of the Bears' Lair entrepreneurial competition, Tim and Dan Waggoner of Loch Effects and Alex Bushshell and Steve Wright of Lab Improvements, have some advice for entrepreneurs entering the 2018 competition, along with four other past winners and finalists of the competition. The deadline to apply for this year's Bears' Lair is February 15, 2018. (Photo: Samantha Moss / MossWorks Photography)

With the deadline fast approaching for this year’s Bears’ Lair entrepreneurial competition, six past winners and finalists are sharing their experiences with others who want to apply for the competition.

Applications for the 2018 competition are due by midnight on Thursday, February 15th. Six finalists will selected to pitch their business to an established panel of judges and the local community for a chance to win cash and business support prizes.

There are two categories in which you can enter: the innovation stream and the goods and services stream. Anyone with a registered business is encouraged to apply by posting a photo to the Bears’ Lair Facebook page and submit a business plan and completed cash flow template through the Bears’ Lair website at www.bearslairptbo.ca.


Lab Improvements (Alex Bushell & Steve Wright), 2017 Innovation Winner

Lab Improvements

Lab Improvements is the manufacturer of CapTrack, a portable, benchtop-sized device that manages refrigerated inventory and recaps specimen tubes for medical laboratories. The company’s patent pending technology uses a combination of robotics, process control, and software to save time and money, increase the quality of laboratory results, and reduce risk.

How did Bears’ Lair help you on your business journey?

Bears’ Lair gave our company a huge boost with the local publicity generated from the win allowing us to gain a bigger reputation. This resulted with us bringing on more engineering work which in turn changed the overall direction of our company.

What advice would you give to young, up and coming entrepreneurs?

That there isn’t a person in the world who knows everything and trying to start and run a company by yourself is nearly impossible. You need to find your key partners whether they take an active role in the business or just act as mentors/advisors.

What is your favourite business quote?

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t”. There are a lot of scarifies made when you decide to start your own company, but if things go well then it will all be worth it.

What was your favourite part of the Bears’ Lair competition?

The $5000 prize money of course! Steve and I really enjoyed filming the promotional video and have used it as our main company video ever since.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

Since Bears Lair, we’ve spun our company as we have received so many requests to do engineering and prototyping services for other people/companies. We soon discovered that this is one of our biggest strengths and something we excel at. We soon discovered that people are willing to pay good money for this service!

To learn more about Lab Improvements, visit labimprovements.com.

 

Loch Effects (Tim & Dan Waggoner), 2017 Goods & Services Winner

Loch Effects

Loch Effects produces high quality and sustainable eye wear and fashionable accessories made from 500-year-old timber reclaimed from the depths of Canadian waters.

How did Bears’ Lair help you on your business journey?

Bears’ Lair opened up many more doors locally than we expected. From retail opportunities to business support groups there has been a lot of value created for Loch throughout the Peterborough area.

What advice would you give to young, up and coming entrepreneurs?

Having a passionate vision is key. Don’t force it. If you don’t have an inspired vision of what you are trying to achieve, take a few step backs and regroup. I have found our biggest successes have come when we have had a vision and aspired to it. Likewise, in doing post-mortems of failed activities, one common factor has been a lack of vision.

What was your favourite part of the Bears’ Lair competition?

The pitch was a blast. Being able to showcase our product and knowledge of our business to savvy business people was an exciting and rewarding experience.

Did any business support organizations help you before/during/or after the competition, and how?

Start at the Innovation Cluster and work your way out from there. There is so much support available it scares me to think we almost didn’t access it. From the NRC/IRAP to the Community Futures and EODP we have accessed all sorts of resources — the Innovation Cluster set us on the right path.

Do you feel there is an entrepreneurial spirit in Peterborough?

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive in well in Peterborough. Not only do we have a wealth of business resources at centres such as the Innovation Cluster, but there is a well-established social network that makes it much easier to find and access support services, mentorship and funding. Peterborough is a fantastic hub for new business and Loch has benefited greatly from operating in this area.

To learn more about Loch Effects, visit locheffects.com.

 

Entomo Farms, 2015 Innovation Winner

Entomo Farms accepting their Sustainable Development award at the 2015 Ontario Regional Startup Canada Awards. (Photo: Startup Canada)
Entomo Farms accepting their Sustainable Development award at the 2015 Ontario Regional Startup Canada Awards. (Photo: Startup Canada)

Since 2014, Entomo Farms has raised and harvested crickets and mealworms for human food and animal feed. Insects as food and feed are not only delicious and nutritious, but sustainable too. The company produces whole roasted insects, both plain and flavoured, and offers a gluten-free and gluten-free organic option as well. Entomo Farms also produces cricket powder and mealworm powder, which can be incorporated into baking or cooking.

What advice would you give to young, up and coming entrepreneurs?

If you were blessed with the entrepreneurial spirit then you know that no matter what, you are always thinking about new ideas. Always keep dreaming, always keep thinking, always share your ideas with those you trust, and keep brainstorming. Once you have your plan set, keep your eye on the goal; this is sometimes easier said than done!

Being an entrepreneur is probably one of the most challenging characteristics a person can have. Challenges and doubts will come up, but your passion, perseverance and keeping your eye on the goal, will help you get through the hard times.

What is your favourite business quote?

Steve Jobs’ Commencement Speech for Stanford in 2015. The entire speech is inspiring and incredible, and I listen to it often and recommend others to listen to it. And of course Jobs’ famous line, “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

VIDEO: Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005

What was your favourite part of the Bears’ Lair competition?

The energy in the room at the Bears’ Lair competition was unlike anything we had ever experienced before. The excitement and passion of the competitors was tangible and contagious. It is an amazing experience to listen to others talk about something that moves and drives them to evoke change and disrupt the norm.

Who was your inspiration when starting your business?

Back in 2013, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations put out a white paper entitled: Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Feed and Food Security. We had already been farming insects for reptile food and after reading this paper, we knew what we had to do. We started researching what we needed to change in our farms to start producing human-grade insects for people to start eating. This paper outlined a need, and we knew that we could help fulfill that need. The timing was perfect.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

We know how easy it is to incorporate the healthy goodness of insects into your daily diet — we’ve been doing it for years now, and continue to experiment in the kitchen.

We can envision a time in the not-so-far future, when everyone has a little shaker of cricket powder next to the stove, to add into whatever they are cooking, a bag of powder in the fridge or pantry to add into that batch of cookies, or mix into that pasta sauce, and snack bags of whole roasted seasoned insects to pop into the kids’ lunches. Imagine heading into your local grocery store, and being able to select cereal, bread, pasta etc. that is enriched with cricket powder. Change is coming, and it’s coming soon!

To learn more about Entomo Farms, visit entomofarms.com.

 

Escape Maze, 2015 Goods & Services Finalist

Escape Maze

Escape Maze is an entertainment facility focusing on live and interactive gaming such as escape rooms, outdoor adventure trails, and a spooky haunted experience.

How did Bears’ Lair help you on your business journey?

Bears’ Lair was great for teaching us the beginning steps to starting a business. Even though our business was already running, we missed some of the most important steps that should have been done before starting our business.

What advice would you give to young, up and coming entrepreneurs?

Have patience for your plans to work out, while you are working like crazy to make it happen.

What is your favourite business quote?

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis

What was your favourite part of the Bears’ Lair competition?

We loved getting to know so many people from the community. We met great business contacts to do business to business ventures, as well as met new customers. But overall, Bears’ Lair put us on the map quickly by exposing our business to the Peterborough business world.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

We see Escape Maze expanding into other entertainment ventures, bringing new exciting experiences to our region, which will then bring more visitors to the Peterborough area. We also want to help others who want to start their own entertainment business by designing games for them.

To learn more about Escape Maze, visit www.escapemaze.com.

 

Blushdrop (Rick Dolishny), 2016 Innovation Winner

Blushdrop

BlushDrop is a website where brides and grooms safely collect smartphone video shot by friends and family, which is then edited by the company’s skilled video team.

How did Bears’ Lair help you on your business journey?

Bears’ Lair was the catalyst to take my scattered business idea and create a proper business plan. Everyone has an idea for a small business, but very few take the step to write it down and make it happen. Bears’ Lair and other participants pushed me in the direction to succeed.

Is there anything you would have done differently while competing in Bears’ Lair?

I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The coaching I received from the Innovation Cluster and other participants helped me create a winning pitch. I didn’t know I could do it.

What was your favourite part of the Bears’ Lair competition?

By far my favourite part of the Bears’ Lair competition is the camaraderie and mutual belief that we are all a success.

Do you feel there is an entrepreneurial spirit in Peterborough?

There’s a definite entrepreneurial spirit in Peterborough. The next step is to take my mentor’s advice, and now think bigger. Peterborough is a safe cocoon to incubate with measurable community support. The challenge is to take some hard knocks but grow beyond imagination.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

We’ll definitely be the Vistaprint of wedding videos; reliable, inexpensive, loved, and referred to by our customers. By the way, that will be in 2 years. In five years, we’ll be a $10 million dollar company and be courted by the likes of Snapchat and Facebook for acquisition.

To learn more about Blush Drop, visit blushdrop.com.

 

Treewell Limited – That Dam Tea (Tyler Steeves), 2017 Goods & Services Finalist

Treewell Limited

That Dam Tea is a beverage business that produces medicinal iced tea with natural ingredients.

How did Bears’ Lair help you on your business journey?

Bears’ Lair helped me to focus on building a solid business plan that later allowed me to get financing with the bank as well as a loan from Futurepreneur.

What advice would you give to young, up and coming entrepreneurs?

Done is better than perfect.

What is your favourite business quote?

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Did any business support organizations help you before/during/or after the competition, and how?

Peterborough Economic Development helped me by looking over my business plan and giving me advice on which steps to take next.

To learn more about TreeWell Limited, visit thatdamtea.com.

All photos supplied by Bears’ Lair except where noted.

Comments