Problems Exploring Problems

Home Forums 3. Ideate Section Discussion (May 23 to May 29) Problems Exploring Problems

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    Laura Svab

    I have delayed in responding to this topic as it is one that I have been struggling with. Specifically, I have made efforts to contact two companies in the industry, a specialist in kelp farming in BC, as well as a small scale dairy farmer and a beef farmer, and no one has responded to my emails or messages. I will and have of course sent follow up messages and continued with my research, as I am still determined to see what this business could be. However, my idealistic vision for this project has had a reality check with regards to the struggles ahead of me as a new entrepreneur. What I am certain of from my research is that the dairy and beef industries, in particular, are all struggling with inflation in feed/ supplement and fertilizer costs, as well as with the reputation of being major contributors to methane emissions in Canada. Therefore, I am seeking to find a way to potentially provide a product that promotes the health and development of their livestock, while at the same time reducing emissions, which can then be part of a marketing campaign to promote the measures they are taking to improve their practices. This marketing is already present on radio ads and on TV, but the actions they are taking are not related to their own operations but with investments for example in tree planting, etc… Farmers do not deserve to be punished for providing a product that is in high demand, but if there is a means to produce their product in a responsible way, I believe that this should be encouraged, subsidized or possibly even legislated. I see my initial customers as the organic farmers in my region, then potentially the provincial beef/ dairy industry, and then ultimately grow from there with federal support. This is much easier said than done as there are so many obstacles and hurdles to figure out and overcome. Regulations and industry standards/ approvals alone will take time, once I am first able to achieve a prototype. Achieving this prototype will be challenging in itself, and will likely take several years as there is much to consider regarding initial financing as well as process/ permits for acquiring the seaweed, then processing, packaging, marketing, testing and achieving industry approval. Ultimately, I have found it intimidating to even reach out to the people that I have because it is difficult to discuss with potential clients a product you have only in concept, which is why I have struggled with this section so much in particular. I know that what I am trying to achieve is possible, but I don’t want to lose credibility with potential customers before I have something that can back up what I am offering. I understand the intention, but in this part of the process I have more work ahead of me to do.

    Erin Melnychuk

    Hi Laura,

    It’s entirely normal to feel overwhelmed at this stage. Especially given that your business model is complex and could take you in any number of directions as you sink deeper into your research. You will not have a a completed business model, at least in the way that you think, by the end of the program… and that’s 100% ok.

    A complex business model likely goes through 10-20 iterations before you launch with something. For the purposes of this program, you’re going to map your first version. What I’d really encourage you to do is start to map, to the best of your ability, all of the potential stakeholders in your concept. You will then start to ‘validate’ your business model by having conversations with your stakeholders. Resist the temptation to immediately update your business model immediately after each interview. Take more of a research approach. When you have conducted a mass of interviews, start to look for themes with the information. Your business model is about shifting a system. You need to have incredible insight in to how this system functions to understand your point of influence. Your identified themes can then be incorporated into future iterations of your business model.

    As you are experiencing now, this process can take some time to unfold. And that’s ok! You actually want it to when the stakes are high. You are on the right path.

    I hope this helps in some small way!

    Judy Evans

    Laura and Erin,

    What a perfect case study of a new idea and the process required to flush out the opportunities!

    Laura, the hardest part of entrepreneurship is deciding on the right idea. Ideas can’t be rushed, they need to be explored, as you are doing.

    I encourage you to connect with Agriculture Canada and provincial agriculture departments as they will also have this product/process on their radar. They are research and economic experts that may be able to advance your information gathering.


    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by Judy Evans.
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