Photo Credit: Tourism Cowichan
UPDATE: The 2021 Cowichan Food Innovation Program has wrapped up. Watch the end-of-program showcase event and meet the cohort below!
Creating a Flavourful Cowichan
Are you looking to build your community through food entrepreneurship? Do you have an incredible business idea that you’d like to develop towards launch, or do you want to take your existing business to the next level? We have news for you!
Economic Development Cowichan has partnered with Spring Activator to bring you the Cowichan Food Innovation Program. This free, 12-week virtual program launching in April 2021 will consist of business incubator and accelerator streams to catapult the region’s food and beverage entrepreneurs to new dimensions of flavour.
Interested? Scroll on to learn about the program details and apply by March 31, 2021!
If you are looking to find out more about mentorship, guest speaking, and sponsorship opportunities, then please scroll to the bottom of the page.
Be at the Forefront of Building a Thriving Food and Beverage Ecosystem in Cowichan
The goal of the Cowichan Food Innovation Program is to leverage Cowichan’s unique agricultural offerings to support a diverse community of outstanding local entrepreneurs, foster innovation, and build resilience in Cowichan’s food processing sector.
Running virtually from April–July 2021, the training will be offered at no cost to participants (a $3,000 value) to support food and beverage processing entrepreneurs across the region.
The program will be delivered in two streams—catering to entrepreneurs in various stages—and will include wrap-around support such as mentor matching, one-on-one consulting with industry professionals, and access to community support.
An INCUBATOR to Take Entrepreneurs from Idea to Launch Preparation
The food business incubator stream will guide entrepreneurs with a new idea towards preparation for launch.
Select this stream in the application process if you have not yet launched your business, or you have an existing business and wish to launch a new food or beverage product line.
What you will learn:
- How to develop your new venture in preparation for launch and launch tactics
- Food and beverage business best practices including costing
- Customer discovery, research and product development strategies
- Pitching and funding options, and more
The Incubator is right for you if you:
- Need guidance on product manufacturing or development
- Have questions about business startup costs
- Need help with product costing
- Require assistance establishing business operations
- Need to finalize your marketing and social media strategy
An ACCELERATOR to Take Entrepreneurs to the Next Stage of Their Business
The business accelerator stream will help advance newly-launched and existing businesses with an established product line. Accelerator participants will receive a baseline assessment to determine a unique curriculum that will support their specific business needs.
Select this stream in the application process if you have an existing food and/or beverage business (including recently-launched), and would like to grow and expand.
What you will learn:
- Strategies for scaling up your existing product line and operations
- How to identify your target customers and refresh your sales and marketing strategies
- How to budget for the unexpected, future-proof your business plan, and more
The Accelerator is right for you if you:
- Are looking to revitalize your existing business and/or make it more robust
- Are looking to add or pivot to a new sales channel such as grocery stores or takeout
- Are scaling up production to meet demand
- Have an established food business but are restructuring significantly due to COVID-19
- Need assistance identifying a new marketing strategy
- Require advanced mentorship and support with your business
- Have questions about financing and/or funding options available to established businesses
- Require guidance on adjusting or scaling your product manufacturing
- Require assistance with product costing and margins
Still not sure which program is right for you? Please select “unsure” on the application form and we will find the right fit for you.
Photo Credit: Tourism Cowichan
“I was referred to Spring from more people than I could ever count before going through two of their programs (Inspire & Capital Raising Bootcamp). They have been our biggest supporters from day 1 and we wouldn’t have the customers & community that we do without them. I couldn’t recommend their programming and networking opportunities any higher – coming from a non-business background, I learned quickly what needed to be done to test and build out our concept. Their entire team has been exceptional to work with and we truly wouldn’t be where we are without them. They’re a beyond talented bunch and an absolutely wonderful organization to work with!”
– Brianne Miller, CEO & Founder of NADA
Cowichan Food Innovation Program Details
- 12 weekly interactive learning sessions on Zoom
- Modules accessible in advance via Spring’s online Learning Management System
- Access to Spring community and network resources
- Ongoing support from the Program Manager, mentors, industry professionals, and subject matter experts
- Flexible program curricula adaptable to participants’ needs and industry trends and changes
- An end-of-program Showcase/Demo Day
Each participant will be matched with a minimum of one business professional from the program’s Mentor Network for personalized one-on-one support and consulting throughout the program. The Network is made up of local business leaders, food and beverage industry professionals, and the Spring community.
Presentations by guest speakers and subject matter experts during the weekly learning sessions will further expand participants’ network of contacts.
- Food and food-centric businesses based within or planning a move to the Cowichan Valley Regional District
- Must have developed (or are looking to develop) a non-perishable food or beverage product
- Be looking to grow and expand operations and support living wage employment opportunities
- Ideally, have an aim to support local agricultural producers and other local suppliers
Watch the recording of our March 17th Information Session to learn more about the Cowichan Food Innovation Program.
Thank you for your interest in the Cowichan Food Innovation Program. Applications for both streams closed on March 31, 2021 at 4:30pm PST. Please check back or subscribe to our newsletter for program updates.
To prepare before you apply:
- A brief description of your food business and any product(s) you are looking to develop or grow
- If you have not yet launched your business, prepare a description of your proposed business/product idea(s)
- A short biography of yourself
Contact Brittany Taylor at [email protected] or 250-746-7880 ext. 3.
Mentorship, Guest Speaking, and Sponsorship Opportunities
Are you looking to engage with up and coming entrepreneurs and become part of the growing food ecosystem in Cowichan? Join our network of mentors, guest speakers and sponsors!
How you can get involved:
- Work one-on-one with our entrepreneurs to help their businesses grow and thrive
- Deliver innovative content through a guest lecture
- Sponsor a session or a Demo Day prize
Interested? Contact Allison Gibson at [email protected] to learn more.
About Spring Activator
A certified B Corporation®, Spring Activator is a global incubator, accelerator, and advisory firm that empowers entrepreneurs, investors, and entrepreneurial ecosystem builders to change the world through innovation. With its advisory services, it has helped over 70 different incubators, accelerators, foundations, and governments across 5 continents enhance their capacity to maximize impact both in their local communities and globally. Through its impact programs, Spring has helped more than 750 entrepreneurs create 350 companies and raise over $24M in funding.