This guest blog post is provided by Futurpreneur Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to fueling the entrepreneurial passions of Canada's young enterprise for nearly two decades. It is the only national, non-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18-39. Its internationally recognized mentoring program hand matches young entrepreneurs with a business expert from a network of more than 2,700 volunteer mentors. Futurpreneur Canada is a founding member of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs' Alliance, the Canadian member of Youth Business International, and the Canadian host of Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Innovation is defined differently for different people. To some, innovation automatically refers to the tech industry; for others, it means introducing a new method, idea, product, or way of doing something, whether that means a big change or something small that has a large impact. Futurpreneur Canada and Spin Master Innovation Corp. have partnered for more than six years to identify the next generation of entrepreneurs disrupting their industry and changing the game, and give them the financing and support they need to succeed through the Spin Master Innovation Fund.
This year, the Spin Master Innovation Fund is supporting nine businesses. These businesses include software and app developers, product manufacturers, consultants and service providers and span across industries, including healthcare, retail, fishing and education, to name but a few. As part of the Spin Master Innovation Fund cohort, these nine businesses receive up to $50K in start-up loan financing, and mentoring by a Futurpreneur Canada volunteer business mentor and Spin Master Ltd. executives, plus an opportunity to attend an innovation workshop and accelerator workshop with top business executives.
We caught up with some of the 2016 cohort to talk to them about what innovation means to them and how they define it. Here's what they had to say:
“Innovation is questioning the norm and navigating against the status quo. Innovation is fundamentally improving — or even redefining the way things are done today. Personally, I believe skepticism is what separates the sheep from the stewards. Why are things done the way they are? Is there a better way? Why is step X a necessary component of Y?
It is because of this belief that my co-founder and I started Coastline Market. As a team, we strive to be innately curious and seek solutions to things that aren't necessarily perceived as problems. Whether it's digitizing decades-old paper processes or reinventing the seafood supply chain, we are passionate about continuously building and improving upon the foundation built by those that came before us. For Coastline, innovation means empowering communities, improving lives and redefining thinking. Innovation is at the heart of entrepreneurship and thus — the engine that keeps our company running.”
- Joseph Lee, Coastline Market
“Innovation to me means making a >10x improvement on an existing market or product (and sometimes creating new markets). Incremental improvements to products or markets run the risk of low adoption, a lot of convincing (i.e. large marketing and sales budget) and/or long runways before success (if any). A 10x innovation causes a natural attraction, fixes a major problem and sometimes creates new markets. The best 10x innovations are the ones that make you think "of course, that's so simple and makes sense –why didn't anyone else do that before?"
- Ali Ghafour, 2020 Armor
“Innovation to me focuses on four key elements: intuition, value, creativity and execution. Intuition is essentially your go to, gut feelings, the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning. Innovative products, initiatives and processes form naturally within one self.
Value is the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. In Canada Rope and Twine's case, our value is creating a product that could potentially help save lives!
Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness. Quite simply put it really is thinking outside the box. Our products are based on a long history of manufacturing, I have just thought to use a few new products [that are] available and find a use for the products in a different application.
Execution is the carrying out of a plan, order, or course of action. Always push the boundaries and keep a high work ethic with no threshold of effort. Execution is the final piece of the puzzle in successfully creating and launching an innovative product.”
- Matthew Moore, Canada Rope and Twine Ltd.
“Innovation means creating something out of nothing. It's taking a problem that you keep thinking about or one of those crazy ideas that pops into your head at 2 a.m. from idea to research to concept to market. It's a completely uncharted path, but that's what makes it even more fun.” - Ryley Iverson, Townfolio
“At Hime Hiko we believe that innovation is the creation and promotion of new ideas that allows the Human to evolve, adapt to his environment and solve concrete and philosophical problems around him. True innovation should be made in symbiosis with both the environment it is meant to be used in and the one it is being extracted from. Innovation brings about change in any given system, changing it for the better.”
- Didier Lortie, Hime Hiko
“Innovation is finding ways to enhance everyday life experiences. Whether it's empowering patients in healthcare or simplifying communications for everyday people, innovation can change the way we live our lives. A great idea combined with the right technology can truly change human behaviour.”
- Chakameh Shafii, TranQool
Find out more about the Spin Master Innovation Fund.