Lynnette Curtis's wraps are reusable beeswax food wraps, and the growing buzz around them are a testament to both her can-do mentality and good fortune in making a bee-line for an untapped and growing market in Nova Scotia.
In 2015, when a friend gave her a Christmas gift of reusable beeswax food wraps a western-Canadian company produced, Lynnette was intrigued.
She had always prided herself on being environmentally conscious, and she had never heard of such things.
She began experimenting with her own wraps, using them to wrap her and her husband's son's sandwiches for school and in other instances where typically plastic wrap is used.
Lynnette is certified in wellness techniques such as foot reflexology, aromatherapy and reiki, and she also used to make soaps and body care products.
The idea of producing the wraps for sale here began to take hold.
In May, she made a pitch to the Awesome Foundation South Shore, hoping to earn one of its monthly $1,000 awards, but it would take her to the June meeting before she was successful.
Lynnette credits the Awesome Foundation's money for giving her the ability to buy supplies, such as organic cotton and beeswax, so she could produce the wraps in bulk and pitch them at the farmers' markets.
After dabbling in the farmers' markets over the summer, Lynnette went on to start a full time job in September working as a teaching assistant, and juggled the wrap production on the side.
In time, she received a call from the Awesome Foundation's dean, Andrew Button, who also owns the businesses Mashup Lab and co-working space in Bridgewater called C03. Andrew had to have her to join Mashup Lab's #DreamBusiness program!
To see original article from LighthouseNOW: click here
Continuing the discussion around our blog post on Friday(read here: http://www.mashuplab.ca/…/mashup-weekend-yarmouth-innovatio…), Andrew wanted to share his thoughts on our current framing of what it means to be innovative.
After an inspiring Wisdom Of The Crowd session at CO3 a few weeks back and our most recent Mashup Weekend: Yarmouth, NS. Innovation can be as simple as sharign thoughtful critiques that will help someone take their business forward.
Being included in both the Rural & Cape Breton Innovation Districts our context for the term innovation is much different then the usual thoughts of a new device or a new machine, this ABSOLUTELY is innovation. These types of innovations are what is kick-starting our #DreamBusinessprogram into high-gear (register here: http://www.mashuplab.ca/dreambusiness.html)
However, What we encourage is that innovation can be seen also, from a much broader perspective! At our last Wisdom Of The Crowd session we took someone's cupcakes & bagels that were brought into CO3 and were asked the question how do I start a business out of this??
Well, In a matter of 20 minutes, the entrepreneurs that were in the crowd came up with 4 or 5 innovative business models that could help her make money right away. Leaving the talented baker with plenty to work towards!
The point is: these types of innovations are being excluded from the BROADER CONVERSATION OF INNOVATION!
If you'd like to see some RURAL INNOVATION in action, come to our next Wisdom Of The Crowd session happening t
omorrow at CO3, register here:
Sometimes, the ideas posed at #MashupWkd all share a similar theme. In Yarmouth, this was definitely the case as many of the ideas were centred on a well-known problem that happens in fishing communities: Herring boxes and how they’re discarded. Simple, cardboard, wax covered herring boxes. That, when finished are thrown into the garbage and more than likely end up in a landfill at the end of their lifecycle. Recognizing the obvious problem that this causes, Mashup Lab was excited to hear some of the innovative ideas that were pitched to combat this issue. We had many NSCC students together at Ignite Labs in NSCC Burridge campus that had simple, creative ideas and worked together to tackle the problem these herring boxes are creating if not utilized more mindfully.
One of the group’s ideas had a tourist-centred approach as they hoped to up-cycle the cardboard and repurpose it for novelty items with a distinctive Nova Scotian flare. Another team in the room wanted to change how the cardboard ended its life and eliminate the waste associated with the product altogether. With teams created the students worked collectively all weekend to push those ideas forward.
Teams worked on their business models Friday evening and then returned in the morning to get back to work. What Mashup Lab saw from this group of students was a pedal-to-the-metal approach all weekend so that their potential businesses and products would be as shaped as possible when presenting to the panel of entrepreneurial judges at the end of the event. What we observed from these students was nothing but inspiring, which could be easily seen be their hard work and pure focus on helping solve a problem in their community.
The group that hoped to create tourist-aimed novelty products with the cardboard were on the phone sourcing contacts that would be able to print on their wax-coated cardboard and coming up with designs to be printed. Also, hard at work on their business model canvas to ensure that their products would deliver on the type of relationship their potentials customers would expect.
The other group had an idea to turn the herring boxes’ cardboard into a combustible fire starter product that could be utilized in the campground fire pit. The group was hard at work creating prototypes of their product that they hope they could take to market. Working together to create a mini production line so they could present as many prototypes as possible was interesting to watch, to say the least!
After working on these ideas for over 12 hours over the course of one weekend, it was time to present! Both groups were ready to stand up in front of the crowd we had at Ignite Labs and share what they were working on!
The panel of entrepreneurs we had as judges were really inspired by the ideas these students had shared in order to help solve a real issue their community was facing. The feedback that they were given was exploratory for both groups. For the first group, why does the product need to be only branded as Nova Scotian, as herring is fished all across the Atlantic provinces, they could expand the scope of their brand even further… amazing! Then the group that hoped to turn the herring boxes into a combustible product were asked why specifically towards campgrounds? That’s a product that could provide heat and warmth to customers, year-round!
It’s amazing to see what can come out of a weekend where people take the time to share ideas, work together and put things into practice that can turn real-world into viable business ideas! See you at the next #MashupWkd!
After a successful Mashup Weekend held in Yarmouth at NSCC Burridge campus' Ignite Labs, Andrew had a few things to say about what it means to have an idea evolve.
Far too often entrepreneurs fall victim to the belief that their first idea is their best idea. When you open up and let others hear what it is you're working on, it allows them to share ways that your idea could be better or more concise.
The more you can share your idea and the more input that other's can have on it the stronger the idea becomes. Also, the viability of the idea gets to a whole new level!
Listen to what Andrew had to say during #MashupWkd below:
Registration for Mashup Weekend: Yarmouth hosted at Ignite Labs is now open! Click here:
Wondering Why you should attend Mashup Weekend in Yarmouth on October 19th?
Well, it's very simple:
If you like sharing ideas with inspiring people and working with them to make progress to bring that idea to life, you should attend Mashup Weekend.
If you like learning alongside entrepreneurially-minded people to take an idea and turning it into something much more, you should attend Mashup Weekend.
If you want to learn how to start a business and learning the process behind it with a room full of experienced entrepreneurs around you, you should attend Mashup Weekend.
If you like making new entrepreneurial friends with folks on your team after you just kicked ass together and got a business off the ground in just one weekend, you should attend Mashup Weekend.
You want to hear more about why you should attend Mashup Weekend? Just watch this video below:
On his trip to the Cape Breton Partnerships' Investors summit. Andrew had a few things to say about taking that time to carve out space in your calendar and work on your business.
For Andrew, this means take the time to pull over in the car and offer some insight in a vlog. For you, this may be taking 2 hours out of your week and work on that business model you've been thinking on, or figuring out the release of your new product or service .
Whatever it is, it's about taking the time to do it.
Listen to what our founder Andrew Button, had to say here:
When you carve out that time and allow yourself the opportunity to focus in, and work at what it is that you're trying to achieve. That space you allocate to that idea allows the idea to evolve and you can realize the actionable steps you need to take moving forward.
At Mashup Lab, our #DreamBusiness program sets out two and a half hours every week where we, as a group of entrepreneurs, take the time to figure out what steps it is that you need to take your business to the next level.
If you're interested in applying to our #DreamBusiness program click the link down below and set that time in your calendar to work on that business idea you've had in your head:
As a support system for budding Nova Scotian entrepreneurs, Mashup Lab’s #DreamBusiness program is creating communities of entrepreneurs with each new cohort. As a first time entrepreneur, the uncertainties of starting a business can be daunting. However, when you have a supportive cast of people who are trying to achieve similar goals as you are, it can be both comforting & inspiring.
This is what Tyler MacIntyre and his girlfriend Anna McPherson found when they started their beard oil company: Cape Breton Beard Factory. After only a short four months in business, they’ve already found a great support network of local cafes and barber shops in Sydney that happily carry their products, as well as The Best of Cape Breton Gift Shop. This is what Tyler says has been changing around Sydney:
“Every week or so it’s like you can see what new business has popped up. It’s really different out in Cape Breton now. Everyone supports each other; it’s this feeling like we’re all in this together. There’s ten new businesses on the brink in this program alone, think about that.”
Tyler & Anna Decided to start their business because they had a need to resupply oil for Tyler's luscious beard, they did some research around the product, and wanted to take a jump at a booming tourism industry in Cape Breton. Branding the beard oil to focus on features that are distinctive to Cape Breton was to showcase the product as something Cape Breton can wear with pride, and also to take advantage of the flourishing tourist destination that Cape Breton has become.
Tyler & Anna entered the #DreamBusiness program hoping it would help take their business to the next level. For Tyler & Anna, this means expanding from the network of businesses they use to supply their products locally, to entering the global world of e-commerce, after having great success selling their products through direct inquiries on Facebook & Instagram.
“I joined the #DreamBusiness program just to learn from Andrew, with all the businesses he’s run and worked with, it’s amazing. With us expanding into e-commerce, Andrew’s knowledge of the theory behind it is something I hope to take away.”
While, still working part-time at a local downtown Sydney pub, Tyler and Anna are hoping that the beard oil business will be able to sustain them full-time one day. Something that can be seen increasingly in Cape Breton, according to Tyler, is that the “entrepreneurial spirit” has come alive. With support networks in the area like the Cape Breton Partnership, ACOA and the #DreamBusiness program, Sydney and the surrounding area is being revitalized on the backs of these entrepreneurs. What Tyler had to say about the support was this:
“With programs like ACOA and the Cape Breton Partnership as well as this, it’s feeling that support that makes it easier to start a business. What the Dream Business program does is great. None of the businesses entering knew each other and now, after four weeks, we’re private messaging each other saying ‘hey, I had a great idea for this, or you should work on this, or I know this grant you should apply for’ it’s really inspiring.”
Here at Mashup Lab, we’re proud to connect and support all these new entrepreneurs. What it is that we do is not something magical; we’re merely giving these entrepreneurs some of the tools and skills to expand on the great ideas they came up with on their own. We’re just happy to connect these folks and allow them to share their entrepreneurial ideas because what we know about rural entrepreneurs is this: great ideas can come from anyone, anywhere!
If you’re interested in working on a business idea you have and to learn business/entrepreneurial skills, apply to the Dream Business program here:
After another successful #MashupWeekend in the books, it’s time to reflect on the thrilling experience that was felt in the room in Pictou. Plenty of ideas were shared, market research done and those little light bulbs on the top of people’s head, definitely had some spark!
With an ear-to-the-ground approach of recruitment for our Mashup Weekend, we were happy to connect with the Coordinator of the NSCC Enactus team and we welcomed many members of the team to our Mashup Weekend, among many others. Happily, we had plenty of folks in and out of the room to hear the ideas that were being worked on and this only leads to ideas becoming stronger and more concise. We also welcomed local MP of the Pictou area Sean Fraser into the space.
From this, ideas that were shared were both innovative and unique. While, numerous business ideas were pitched, an altruistic theme was shared amongst all in the room so; many of the ideas came to be structured around mental health issues. Ideas were approached differently but ultimately, they were centred on supporting those with mental health issues and the families of those affected by it.
For some of the prospective entrepreneurs in the room this may be their first time ever pitching an idea so, the idea of it could be terrifying. That’s what we love about #MashupWeekend, having a supportive team around you gives you the courage to share something you typically wouldn’t, and it allows you to feel confident about what it is that your sharing!
For someone to share an idea for a mental health centre is not something that would be ordinarily spoken about. However, with a supportive and encouraging environment created, the team feels the courage to reach out to numerous healthcare professionals over the course of the weekend to see if they believe the same things they did!
While, for another it’s the confidence boost they felt to share an idea for a clothing brand they had mulling in their head for many years. Sharing this at #MashupWeekend made it all the more easier to take an idea they’ve been stewing on for a while and build a team to actually see the vision be put into action. With this confidence boost, they begin to see actual validation for their idea. This made it even easier to approach friends or family and tell them about the exciting idea they’re ready to share and ask if they’d be interested to support as well.
This exciting energy that is shared at our #MashupWeekend is electric for all who come into the space. It’s scary for many to enter a space without knowing anyone to share an idea or critique another’s. However, once you get into the room and see supportive faces around you, those people who may initially cause you a bit of fear, will probably be your support network by the end of it.
Check this video out below to hear what Andrew thinks about the type of feeling you get when you enter a space like #MashupWeekend and the sort of opportunities that come of it:
After another successful #MashupWeekend in the books, it’s time to reflect on the thrilling experience that was felt in the room. Plenty of ideas were shared, market research done and those little light bulbs on the top of people’s head, definitely had some spark!
So, we’d love to share with you how our #MashupWeekend runs and why people in the room feel so inspired and eager to work together with people they never met before, on business ideas completely new to the majority of them!
After pleasantries and ambiguous small talk that always comes up when people that aren’t too familiar meet each other for the first time we dive right in to the meat of the weekend.
To start, you share three words or things that inspire you and put it on the inspiration board. This reflective exercise allows people to share what it is that they work for. Whether it is freedom, learning, travel, music, art or even family. With this, people quickly get put on teams and pick three pieces of inspiration from the abundant list of buzzwords to develop a quick business idea from the words selected! This is fun way to introduce people to the focus of the weekend and keep them on their toes!
Once the creative juices are given a quick shock from that, the real business ideas for the weekend are shared! Past #MashupWeekend business idea topics have ranged oceantech, mental health support and even, energy efficiency!
After being placed on teams and hashing out some details, it’s time to actually lay out the groundwork with a Business Model Canvas; a tool that helps you focus on the specifics of the business. You map out your value proposition, to customer segments and the relationship they can expect from your business and any sort of key partnerships, activities or resources your proposed business would need to thrive.
At #MashupWeekend it’s interesting to see how folks interpret this tool and watch how it can be used to either, divide the work and have each aspect delegated based on peoples’ strengths or, tackle each individual piece head-on as a group.
After working on the Canvas for a few hours we call it a night! However, this overnight period is typically when the most work is done as ideas are mulled over in the back of people’s heads! So, when we start back up in the morning over breakfast, the chatter in the room is electric as fresh new perspectives are shared!
A few cups of coffee and a team-brainstorm first thing in the morning and people are excited to get working at their ideas again and really trying to get their business ideas into action!
After the Business Canvas is hashed out and made more concise to ensure the business can flourish, it’s time to put those assumptions to the test!
So, teams do all that they can to engage potential customers/clients or industry experts. Whether it be Googling as much information as possible, phoning up folks from their network, or even hitting the streets and trying to get some questions answered from the general public. The point being, whatever you may think works easily as a business model or potential product, the fact of the matter is you need to have someone eventually make a purchase in order for your business to thrive.
With as much market research that can be done to ensure your business is as sound you believe it is, it’s time to present what it is you and your team was working on over the weekend! We bring in a panel of judges that are either business leaders or experts in the area to offer feedback and advice that is grounded in their own entrepreneurial experience. As folks ignore the nerves and present their kick-ass business ideas, the inspiration of the weekend comes to a full peak as you get to watch what great ideas can come from just one weekend!
After hearing about what happens at our #MashupWeekend we hope that you’ll take the plunge and #GetInTheRoom! We know once you do you’ll feel the inspiration that happens when folks share ideas and work together on some really interesting and innovative ideas.
Hear about what Andrew has to say about the magic that happens during our Mashup Weekends and what its like when that entrepreneurial spirit is felt!
Working with over 1,000 Entrepreneurs starting and growing businesses from rural communities gives you perspective. Here is where I share the things I'm learning through my work with Mashup Lab. This is my Rural Perspective; I'd love to hear yours.