Six pitches. One prize. A spring day in Edmonton.

BoostR Stage YEG March 23, 2016 NAIT

Six pitches. One prize. A spring day in Edmonton.

On Wednesday night, six Albertan entrepreneur teams pitched their business ideas to a panel of expert judges in front of a crowd full of supporters. They had a mission: to convince the judges their idea had the most merit, for a chance to win a $1000 cash prize to fund their business.

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Their secondary mission was to share their story with the audience, which was full of potential future customers.

House of Sew pitched their idea of teaching people to sew and make their own clothes. Orbis Sports wants to help people get fit, play and have fun—with the help of giant bubble suits.

Biota Balance has developed yogurt for dogs, which helps provide healthy probiotics for our pets. Host Julian Faid sampled one on stage and gave the taste a review of “aggressive.”IMG_0193.JPG

Calgary Heritage Roasting Company provides the tools for Albertans to roast their own coffee. Karma Concerts is a non-profit that puts on concerts for children and raises money for children’s charities at the same time.

Fitset Pass provides one pass to lots of fitness studios, so you don’t have to buy several passes and can try many different options.

In the end, it was Calgary Heritage Roasting Company that won the judges’ favour.

Missed this event? The next BoostR Stage event will be in Calgary on April 15.

Success Story- Red Cup Distillery

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Rob DeGroot, founder and owner of Red Cup Distillery, likes to describe his new business using a question that to him, doesn’t need to be answered.

“What else would you rather be doing than making liquor?”

When DeGroot, who lives near Vegreville, first had the idea to start a distillery, he was trying to answer a similar question after leaving his last job: what would he rather be doing?

“We thought we were going to get the fancy German still and buy the Fisher-Price kit with the laptop, where they give you all the recipes. But we couldn’t afford that. Then my wife in her passing wisdom says, why don’t you build your own still? It was the smartest decision we made,” DeGroot said.

So he went to his local ATB branch and asked for help in setting up the business and financing it. His contact there put him in touch with a small business expert in the Calgary office, and she suggested he try Alberta BoostR, ATB’s rewards-based crowdfunding platform, to help with some startup financing.

“Participating in BoostR forced me to confirm my product and confirm support, and helped me to focus my marketing efforts and communication to the broader public.

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Rob DeGroot Winner of the Edmonton BoostR Stage Event

 

“It was the best thing we did. It was basically priceless because we met people and began a journey with the public. We wouldn’t have had it any other way. If I didn’t do BoostR, I’d open my doors one day and say, please come, and hope people did. This way, I pre-sold more than 200 bottles.”

DeGroot participated in a BoostR Stage event in Edmonton, where he had to present his idea to a crowd of Edmontonians and pitch his business for a chance to win $1000 from a panel of expert judges. He won.

“It was scary when I won, very scary. I thought, please, I hope my fly is up,” DeGroot said.

“The judges said, we believe this brand can be around the world, we believe this can be the next Alberta beef. That was humbling.”

DeGroot is steadfast in his resolve that Red Cup Distillery’s moonshine be Alberta grown and produced.

“We do not add chemicals, we bring in raw grain, that’s it. It’s from Vegreville, I don’t go to Scotland for this, China for that, it’s from Vegreville, literally the way grandpa did it,” DeGroot said.

“That’s what the moonshine’s like, I can’t describe it any other way. We’re making it the same way as the way grandma made bread. A little more of this, a little more of that, wait a little longer.”

Red Cup Distillery moonshine is available directly from DeGroot at his place in Vegreville, and they’re working on making it available at some local shops and restaurants. So far, Boston Pizza in Vegreville is carrying it, as well as Kitchen by Brad, a culinary school in Edmonton. But he encourages anyone who’s interested to come out for a tasting. He also recommends a couple of books, to help people understand the roots of his business better: Booze: When Whiskey Ruled the West, and Red Lights on the Prairies, both by James H. Gray.

 

Success Story- Prairie Noodle

 

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At Prairie Noodle’s first pop-up event in Edmonton, co-founder Arden Tse expected maybe 50 people to show up.

“But we sold out 100 bowls 15 minutes before we opened. And we had to turn another 70 or 80 people away.”

Prairie Noodle Shop, now open as a restaurant on 124 Street in Edmonton, serves ramen. Tse calls it fusion, because the Japanese soup recipes are made with local ingredients and based on Alberta food traditions. But, as he explains, that makes it all the more authentic.

“In Japan, wherever you go, there’s over 20 regions where they have their own specialty broth because it takes on the flavour and agriculture of wherever it comes from.

“So we decided to do something local and stay true to the spirit of what ramen is,” Tse said.

Since that first pop-up prepared Prairie Noodle’s signature dish, the prairie pork ramen, its popularity has only grown.

“People took to it. We put up our reservation system for pop ups online, on Event Brite, and they would sell out in less than five minutes. Literally, if you blinked, you missed it. I remember one customer telling me on Twitter, she said, I literally went to the bathroom, came back, and the tickets were sold out,” Tse said.

Having such great success with their pop-ups gave Tse and his partners the confidence to open a restaurant. So they started fundraising, with ATB’s help, and started a campaign on Alberta BoostR.

“BoostR gave us huge exposure, to a lot of people who weren’t online. Because the thing is, our presence to that point was kind of an underground, you had to be on social media to know about us,” Tse said.

“Just before we opened, we did a media release with the ATB team here and the Minister of Economic Development. It was an amazing opportunity. Wellington Holbrook was great, he’s been such a great supporter of ours.”

Prairie Noodle Shop opened just before Christmas.

“It’s had its challenges. But I think that’s what real entrepreneurship is about. Entrepreneurs overcome. And we have to adapt. And we have to get back up after we’ve been knocked down. Because it’ll happen time and again,” Tse said.

Ironically, one of Prairie Noodle’s biggest challenges was how popular it was before it even opened. So in its first week, attendance surpassed expectations yet again.

“We were overwhelmed. That first week we were not prepared. And so the food was inconsistent,” Tse said.

So Tse and his team took a break over Christmas and worked hard to figure things out. They made the changes necessary to get their food back to their high standards and their systems in place to deal with the high demand. And they succeeded.

“I have a saying: the only way out is through. And so far, so good. It’s been a pretty good January and we’ve got some great plans for the spring and summer. Different food menu items. We just want to come up with a new fresh experience so we’re always going to be adding things, changing things up a little bit,” Tse said.

The goal is to “provide Edmontonians with just a great new different experience, something fun, a night out, and that’s what we want to be known for, just a fun place to come,” Tse says. And so far—so good.

What excites you the most about being part of the BoostR Stage?

We asked all our participants for the BoostR Stage YYC “Change Makers” editions, what were they the most excited about  the BoostR Stage event, and this is what some of them had to say:

Calgary Tool Library

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“You can build anything with our tools, especially a community!

We can’t wait to use the BoostR stage to help our amazing community grow.”

Being Mentally Healthy

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“I am super excited to be part of AlbertaBoostr! Crowd funding is giving me the opportunity to develop my adult coloring book. To have the opportunity to have my network support this project is very inspiring and to have my Boostrs have their names in the coloring book makes it even more special. Having the opportunity to be at the live event will allow my reach to increase by people in the audience becoming aware of me and giving them the opportunity to get acquainted with my work.

Giving me a way to a develop this fun tool for  mental health and  giving  my Boostrs the unique opportunity to be part the coloring book is just awesome. The ability to give people a way to show their support for mental health issues by boosting my campaign and getting my message out to a larger audience are just some of the reasons I love Alberta Boostr.

For me, participation in Alberta Boostr is the platform and the proof that you can be recovering from a mental illness and still make a positive difference in your community!”

Mindful Mental Training Inc.

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“Being chosen to participate in the BoostR Stage will provide us the opportunity to bring awareness to the issue of mental health in our society, with the emphasis on mental health promotion and stigma reduction. But awareness alone is not enough; our vision is to share with the audience the current science and research on mindfulness-based programs, and how it is being used to reduce stress, decrease the risk of relapse to depression, prevent suicides, slow age-related cognitive decline, and lessen the suffering of other chronic medical conditions such as cancer.”

Bundles Of Hope – Socially Conscious Baby Products

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“Our team is most excited about extra publicity not only for our business, but our cause. We want to bring as much awareness as we can to the needs of low-income mothers in our city, and a chance to stand on the BoostR Stage is a chance to tell 300 or more people why we do what we do.”

The Alberta Impact Fund (AIF)

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“It’s hard to narrow down what I am MOST excited about, because I am excited about a lot! But if I had to, I am most excited about getting to tell our story. We have been working on this fund for nearly 3 years now, and it has been a journey – we have had times where absolutely everything lined up, and we have had other times where everything seemed like it was falling apart. We’re to a point now where I feel like we have been through a road of trials and come out the other side and ready to see what the next stage is. I think that getting on the Boostr stage will be an incredible catalyst for us – a moment that we can look back on to see when things really changed and became that much more real. I think the whole concept is brilliant, I am so excited that it exists, and the potential opportunity to be involved is incredibly exciting!!”

Last call for potential pitch companies

Hello!

We’re in the homestretch and already we have ten new BoostR campaigns in Calgary set to launch on May 20th, each vying for a chance to earn up to $4,000 to put towards their campaign goal.

Are you ready to do the same?

What’s so special about May 20th?
On May 20, Alberta BoostR will launch new campaigns for local Calgary businesses. The top five performing campaigns at the end of one week will be invited to pitch live at The Elevator – a pitch event – at The Libertine Public House the evening of May 28th.
 
Best part is, each of our 100 or so guest to The Elevator will have 20 BoostR Dollars to give to a campaign of their choice that night, giving pitching companies a chance at earning extra cash.
 
Plus – as a bonus – the campaign that generates the most social media buzz leading up to the event will earn a cool $2,000 cash.

Time is of the essence
Because of the time required to apply and develop a successful campaign, we’re putting this out as a last call for anyone in the Calgary area interested in starting a campaign on May 20 to do so ASAP.

Deadline to sign up is Sunday May 18th at 5pm.

Sign up right here to create an account and get started.

Why crowdfund?

Have a big idea you’ve been wanting to get off the ground? Need a larger retail space? Want to develop that next great app? This could be the perfect opportunity to make that happen and we can’t wait to help.
 

Cheers!
Alberta BoostR

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Boosted Business: Carbon Environmental Boutique

One of the ways that we like to celebrate success with businesses that have been boosted on Alberta BoostR, is to capture some of their feedback to share the experience they had while on the platform. We hope that this helps to shed some insight on some tips that have helped businesses reach success along the way, as well as continue to put the light on some truly amazing Alberta businesses.

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Business: Carbon Environmental Boutique

1. What made you decide to use Alberta BoostR?

Carbon Environmental Boutique was faced with a troubling issue. We needed a new organic make-up line fast, since our previous make-up line was discontinued in North America. Without the time to properly plan for this eventuality, Alberta BoostR was a big help in getting us the finances we needed to launch the new product line.

2. How much was your goal, and how much did you raise?

Our goal was $2500, and we raised $2800

3. What were three things that worked well to help your campaign be successful?

Daily attention to our campaign was a must. When we were on it, creating buzz, launching new rewards, the donations rolled in.

4. Besides raising capital, were there any positive experiences that happened?

We met so many great people!! All the Alberta BoostR folks were so helpful and kind, plus we got to really connect with our community. Lots of hugs went out to our supporters:)

5. What has life been like after Alberta BoostR?

Ahhh… it has been great to have Santé make-up here in the store. Our customers love it! We had time to research it and assess it fully, knowing that the funds were secure. It is simply the loveliest make-up and we’re the only ones in Edmonton who offer it! Carbon thanks Alberta Boostr for the opportunity in helping us get it for our customers.

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Keep up to date with what’s going on in Carbon Environmental Boutique’s world by visiting their website: http://www.carbonboutique.com/

Boosted Business: Buttery Bites Caramels

One of the ways that we like to celebrate success with businesses that have been boosted on Alberta BoostR, is to capture some of their feedback to share the experience they had while on the platform. We hope that this helps to shed some insight on some of the tips that have helped businesses reach success along the way, as well as continue to put the light on some truly amazing Alberta businesses.

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Business: Buttery Bites Caramels

Link: http://albertaboostr.ca/P289/buttery-bites-caramels

1. What made you decide to use Alberta BoostR?

I decided to use Alberta BoostR, because it sounded like fun.  This was a pilot project and something I had never heard of or tried, so I thought I would give it a go.
2. How much was your goal, and what did you raise?
My goal was $3000. and we raised $3120.
3. What were three things that worked well to help your campaign be successful?
Three things that worked well…#1. I have some addicted loyal customers that are wonderful.  #2. Hootsuite.com  I found it very difficult to be online and promoting and posting, so I was able to program my posts and  have them target different audiences at different times of day.  #3. We added some new rewards that were a little more exciting.
4. Besides raising capital, were there any positive experiences that happened? (press, awareness, engagement etc..)
We took our goal money and bought our water trailer as planned.  Then we took the water trailer in our local rodeo parade and handed out our Buttery Bites Caramels.  I still have people that remember the trailer and the candy.
5. What has life been like after Alberta BoostR?

Life after the BoostR campaign is great.  I don’t stress over water now.  Still getting the system perfected, but it will come. At least now I don’t have to ask my husband if he will get the water, I do it on a regular trip to town.

6. Any other comments?

Using Alberta BoostR was a great way for me to be interactive with my fundraising and advertising.  I enjoyed the experience and at the same time I am glad it is over and was successful.  I would certainly consider another BoostR one day, but not any time soon.

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Keep up to date with what’s going on in Buttery Bites’ world by visiting her website: http://starbrightfarm.tripod.com/id1.html