Futurpreneur Canada is helping tech startups thrive with funding and mentorship. | Luc Bohunicky is the vice president for business development at Ukko Robotics. He knows firsthand how difficult it can be to run a startup with no financial backing or support. Ukko Robotics was operating out of a garage in the boonies until a loan from Futurpreneur Canada allowed it to move into a warehouse in the heart of Winnipeg’s business center.
Bohunicky stated that Ukko Robotics could use the space more practically and gain more accessible access to the resources needed. In addition, this gave the company legitimacy.
“This business is literally a result of its environment because we are just a few steps away from a prototyping/fabrication lab. We are close to a variety of coffee shops that allow us easy access to meetings. To help us build our business, we have 4,000 sq.ft. of office space in central London. Bohunikcy said that we are just accessible for business building purposes; to attract partners, employees, and mentors.” Imagine your life without Futurpreneur.
These factors would have hampered our ability to build the company.”
Futurpreneur loan is a technology firm based out of Winnipeg that specializes in the design and development of agricultural technology that facilitates autonomous and energy-efficient farming equipment.
Its biggest innovation is the Rova, a self-sustaining, self-moving, mobile-monitored chicken barn. The app allows you to view a live feed of your barn and monitor important metrics such as feed levels and weather reports. You can also map where your barn should move.
Futurpreneur Canada’s Impact
Futurpreneur was founded in 1996 and supported entrepreneurs aged 18 to 39. It provides low-interest loans and mentorship opportunities as well as vast networking opportunities.
As of December 1, 2018, it has helped create 10,000 new businesses and supported more than 12,000 young entrepreneurs. The 2019 federal budget earmarked $38 million dollars over the next five years to support entrepreneurs in Canada through the not-for-profit organization.
Entrepreneurship in Canada
According to Statistics from StartUpBlink, Canada is ranked third for entrepreneurship. Karen Greve Young, chief executive officer of Futurpreneur, said that Canada must continue promoting entrepreneurship and creating opportunities for young innovators to succeed.
Young stated that if Canada wants to achieve the future it envisions, there must be opportunities. As well, young said that inclusive opportunities are essential. “We must be agile in not only creating jobs for the future but also placing people in jobs today.
In fact, according to stats from Industry Canada, 77 percent of private jobs in Canada are created through small businesses.
Futurpreneur has partnered with many tech startups, including Winnipeg-based food delivery app Skip The Dishes, and Young says that technology entrepreneurship can be incredibly impactful, not only within Canada but also on a global scale.
Scaling ventures are a key part of entrepreneurship. Young said that rising tech ventures are often based in large cities. They can create tons and tons of jobs, as well as export income. Young agrees. “The technologies that are not competing to be the leader in the tech platform but more contributing to the global well-being of people and their experience is where I am most excited.”
Mentorship and networking
Futurpreneur partnerships offer more than a financial benefit. They also provide mentorship and connections.
Entrepreneurs need to be supported as a whole. Unfortunately, startups can fail regardless of financial backing.
Industry Canada stats show that 150,000 new small businesses are created each year in Canada. However, only 51 percent of these businesses will survive for more than five years.
JP Desjardins (founder of The Walrus, a Montreal-based social display company) believes that mentorship and networking opportunities are the most valuable.
They have a great network of mentors throughout Canada. We were fortunate to find someone in the IT industry that could help us grow our business…And having a mentor has proven to be a great help,” Desjardins said. They invited us to various events they had in different cities over the next year. This is where you meet entrepreneurs from across Canada and start to build a deep network. This is, I believe, where the organization’s long-term value is. It’s the power and potential of a network.
Desjardins believes that it doesn’t matter what product or service you sell if the product or services are not in front of the right people. Futurpreneur helped him do this.
Desjardins stated, “It’s very valuable because in the end whatever you sell…being able to get into meetings with those companies who might need your product…it is a very large lever to help me succeed and grow my company.”