Nevin Buconjic Represents Sault Ste. Marie in Ottawa to help Build Canada’s Entrepreneurship Community

As many of you know, I am passionate about entrepreneurship and small business, coming from a background of small business and economic development. In my free time I operate multiple businesses, and I have written two books on small business as well.

About a year ago, I took the initiative to apply on behalf of Sault Ste. Marie, to join Startup Canada – a pan-Canadian network to provide entrepreneurs with a single doorway to enter their local entrepreneur community to access mentors, space, funding and support to start and grow their businesses and to connect with other startup founders.

Startup Canada, and its 19 Startup Communities are volunteer organizations and are led by entrepreneurs, not government. We are grass-roots and inclusive, with the goal of building more entrepreneurial communities across the country – in an effort to connect and strengthen the infrastructure for new startups and existing businesses.

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Requirements for becoming a Startup Community include building a team of volunteers and entrepreneurs, forging partnerships with community organizations that deliver programming and resources to the business community, and drafting a clear vision and plan of action.

Sault Ste. Marie was accepted and joined 16 other communities – 3 more were just recently announced in November — Toronto, Charlottetown and Halifax.

We formally launched Startup Sault in March 2014 with our first event – Startup Drinks, a casual networking opportunity to connect local entrepreneurs and business owners. Over 30 people attended the first event, and it proved a great opportunity to meet new people, discuss ideas, and hopefully collaborate on future projects.

Startup Drinks is now held every two months, and recently we introduced our latest program – Startup Book Club.

Startup Book Club participants read and discuss the latest business-related books (as well as classics) to glean tips, models and strategies to take their business to the next level. Startup Book Club creates an opportunity for local entrepreneurs, students, small business owners and others to discuss not only the content of each book, but their own strategies and experiences as well.

The first book choice was “The $100 Startup”, by Chris Guillebeau and the next choice for February 5th (6:00-8:00PM) at Q Café & Bakery is “How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age.”

Startup Sault continues to be involved in other events through our community partners, including the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, SSM Chamber of Commerce and the Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie.

In May, Startup Sault offered a 5-day training session from the Canadian Entrepreneurship Institute via live streaming. The training featured keynote lectures by world-leading innovators, entrepreneurs, educators and policy makers; attendees gained the knowledge, tools and network necessary to make a meaningful impact in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship in their community, as well as their own business or organization.

MP HayesJust recently, I represented Sault Ste. Marie in Ottawa, meeting with Members of Parliament (including Sault MP – Bryan Hayes), Senators and Ministers as part of Startup Canada Day on the Hill.

Startup Canada Day on the Hill is a collaboration of Canada’s entrepreneurial community and partnering political and government leaders. Drawing nearly 1,000 attendees throughout the day, including some of Canada’s top entrepreneurs, investors, industry leaders, media personalities and government decision makers, the program is filled with meaningful government roundtables, media interviews, fireside discussions, TED-style keynotes, entrepreneur bootcamps, on-site mentorship, and an evening ‘Startup Soiree’, showcasing entrepreneurs and their products from across Canada.

15742921278_2d73084880_oI spoke on stage to share perspectives of entrepreneurs from the community and to the impact that Startup Sault Ste. Marie has had over the last 12 months in fuelling economic development through entrepreneurship. I also worked with public servants and industry leaders to educate them on how they can work with grassroots, entrepreneur organizations like Startup Canada to accelerate entrepreneurial growth in Canada.

The two days of events were jam packed with meetings, events and networking. I had the opportunity to meet and work with my colleagues from other Startup Communities across the country. Not only was it a team building exercise, but we all worked together to impress upon our federally elected officials – even Prime Minister Harper — the importance of supporting entrepreneurship, and supporting the Startup Canada movement.

Prime Minister PicIt was an incredible experience.

In just two short years, Startup Canada has grown to become the leading entrepreneurship organization in Canada with more than 85,000 entrepreneurs, 400 partners and 300 volunteers.  We continue to build on this momentum.

Startup Sault also continues on its mission to strengthen and build a more entrepreneurial community in Sault Ste. Marie, and other Startup Communities across the country do the same.

Startup Canada’s goal is to reach 100 Startup Communities over the next two years, truly connecting entrepreneurs across the country — driving competitiveness, innovation, job creation, and economic growth along the way.

I hope you will join us in our movement. Together, let’s take risks, generate big ideas, and push the economy forward.

About Startup Sault:

Startup Sault connects new entrepreneurs with the small business resources available in the community, and provides the support of existing entrepreneurs who are building successful companies.

For more information about Startup Sault, visit www.startupsault.ca.  Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/startupsault) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/startupsault) to keep up to date on Startup Sault events, startup tips and other useful information.

Let’s take risks, generate some big ideas

SONY DSCThe importance of small business to our country, province and community cannot be overstated.

Small business drives innovation, leads job creation and builds wealth like no other economic engine in our nation.

This space, every other month, will be used to provide you with the resources you need to start a business, grow an existing business, and help drive an entrepreneurial culture in our community.

Did you know that 98 percent of businesses in Canada have less than 100 employees, and almost 70 percent of the private workforce is employed by small businesses?

Small businesses created over 75 percent of all private jobs in Canada over the last decade.

Sault Ste. Marie has done a good job of diversifying its economy since the 1990’s.

Through Destiny Sault Ste. Marie, the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre and other initiatives, the city has been able to grow various sectors including Information Technology, green energy, education, and more – lessening its reliance upon the steel and forest sectors.

Along the way the small business sector has developed and changed, and Sault Ste. Marie has been recognized nationally as a top 100 Entrepreneurial City in Canada (ranking as high as 23rd in 2012).

There are numerous resources available to entrepreneurs and small business in our area, including Business Sault Ste. Marie – a division of the Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC), the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC), the Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie & Area (CDC), Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce (SSMCOC), and more.

These organizations provide business startup assistance and other resources to new and established businesses in the community.

They provide an essential role in our small business community.

But there is more we can do as a community to ensure we build an entrepreneurial community within Sault Ste. Marie that is strong, supportive, vibrant and inclusive.

An entrepreneurial community led by entrepreneurs.

Startup Sault is doing just that.

Startup Sault is a volunteer–led movement to bring together entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and small business service providers in Sault Ste. Marie to create a supportive and knowledgeable environment where business startups can flourish.

We are part of the Startup Canada network – a pan-Canadian network to provide entrepreneurs with a single doorway to enter their local entrepreneur community to access mentors, space, funding and support to start and grow their businesses and to connect with other startup founders online and on the ground.

Startup_CanadaStartup Canada is a national entrepreneur-led undertaking to enhance the nation’s competitiveness and prosperity through uniting and strengthening Canada’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and promoting a vibrant entrepreneurial culture to create a unified brand as a rallying point for Canadians.

Startup Canada has the support of more than 85,000 Canadians, 400 partners and 300 volunteers across the country and in its network of over 20 thriving startup communities. To learn more about Startup Canada, watch this video.

With the support of this national movement, and our amazing team of local entrepreneurs and volunteers, Startup Sault will help build a strong and spirited entrepreneurial community in Sault Ste. Marie.

Since our launch in March 2014, Startup Sault has held a number of unique networking events including Startup Drinks, a casual, fun networking opportunity to meet and hangout with other entrepreneurs.

In May, Startup Sault offered a 5-day training session from the Canadian Entrepreneurship Institute via live streaming.

The training featured keynote lectures by world-leading innovators, entrepreneurs, educators and policy makers; attendees gained the knowledge, tools and network necessary to make a meaningful impact in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship in their community, as well as their own business or organization.

On October 9th we held a Startup Drinks event at the Water Tower Pub, and our fall line-up of events includes the next Startup Drinks, November 20th, as well as our newest program – Startup Book Club, October 29th (kick-off ) and December 3rd.

Startup Book Club participants will read and discuss the latest business-related books (as well as classics) to glean tips, models and strategies to take their business to the next level.

Startup Book Club will create an opportunity for local entrepreneurs, students, small business owners and others to discuss not only the content of each book, but their own strategies and experiences as well.

I hope you will join us in our movement.

Together, let’s take risks, generate big ideas, and push the economy forward.

About Startup Sault:

Startup Sault connects new entrepreneurs with the small business resources available in the community, and provides the support of existing entrepreneurs who are building successful companies.

Our community enterprise partners include the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC), Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC), Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie (CDC), and Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce.

For more information about Startup Sault, visit www.startupsault.ca. Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/startupsault) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/startupsault) to keep up to date on Startup Sault events, startup tips and other useful information.

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About the Author: Nevin Buconjic is an entrepreneur, author, consultant and Strategic Business Advisor with the Ontario government. Nevin is the founder and community lead for Startup Sault.

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