Digital and Tech Stories of Economic Growth on Vancouver Island
Little Mountain Soap Company – Parksville, BC – Retail Products
~DER3 Program: Businesses Benefit from Getting Digital on Vancouver Island ~
Innovation Island, as the region’s technology accelerator, with decades of experience in the tech sector on Vancouver Island, and a deep understanding of tech and digital ecosystems, we embraced the call to help the mounting challenges that faced small-medium sized businesses due to the COVID crisis. Since the DER3 Program launched in April 2020, with support from Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) and additional support from Western Economic Development Canada, the program has now engaged with over 500 businesses. From web and IT/tech support, to digital marketing, tech and business model innovation, or overall strategy and pivots, we are thrilled to help businesses move the economic dial on Vancouver Island. We would love to share some amazing stories of clients who have benefited from this no cost program.
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DER3 Client: Business Summary
Wendy has a background as a UVB Phototherapy Technician at a local skin clinic. At the request of some of her work clients, Wendy began making and selling customized, high-quality skin products, such as lotions, creams, and ointments, as a vendor at local farmers markets. Customer response was very positive; Wendy made a point to take customer feedback, asking what else they would like to see on offer, and tailored her product lineups based on what they shared. Initially, she operated under the business name Lavish Me, although she had not registered her business nor thought about establishing a brand.
Even prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wendy’s customers had begun asking for ways to purchase her products in new ways, rather than exclusively through in-person, traditional markets. Wendy had zero online presence at this time, and had only offered clients homemade business cards as a means to connect with her. After the pandemic caused the closure of virtually all of the markets Wendy usually attended, she realized that she needed to take steps to move her business online.
Getting Digital: Needs Expressed
When she approached DER3, Wendy did not have a budget to hire a Digital Service Provider; she therefore wanted help accessing resources so she could create an e-commerce website herself. She was also interested in learning how to get started on social media and creating a simple, manageable social media marketing strategy that she felt she could implement.
Wendy knew that once she had built an online presence, she needed to establish her customer community online. However, since she had never kept an updated customer list, she sought assistance from DER3 in how to attract, engage and grow a customer base “digitally”. She also wanted to learn how to establish and grow a unique and identifiable brand that could perform both on and off-line into the future. Finally, Wendy wanted to formally register her business, setting herself up as a credible and growing presence in her marketplace.
How DER3 helped the Business
A traditional Online Presence Assessment (OPA) wasn’t conducted as Wendy did not have an online presence. However, the DER3 team completed a Brand/Trade Name Assessment, and provided feedback and resources on selecting a unique business name that was suitable for the online market space. This assessment included supporting her to search for conflicts in Canadian & US Trademark Databases for some proposed names.
Resources were provided on securing a domain name and selecting a DIY website platform. Wendy reached out with questions as she navigated this process, and DER3 provided additional guidance as needed and was able to provide one-on-one support as she navigated building her own website through GoDaddy.
After her website was launched, DER3 provided information about properly tracking expenses and is currently in the process of offering additional help with inventory management.
DER3 Impact, Results, Outcome
Wendy selected and registered a new business name–Little Mountain Soap and Body–which had the benefits of being unique, suitable for online and confirmation that a domain name was available. She then registered that domain, and used GoDaddy to create a solid and effective e-commerce website through which to sell her products.
Additionally, Wendy created a Facebook Business Page and began using this account to grow an online community, engage with her customers, and drive them to her new website.
Wendy had a very busy Christmas season and was ready to reach out for more DER3 support to help find digital tools to assist with managing her inventory in the New Year! Since creating her website and moving exclusively online, she receives about 50% of sales online. She still does have some clients who “review her website for products” then contact her directly to purchase due to the customer base being novice internet users themselves . Wendy went from zero understanding of how to operate digitally to creating her own online store, engaging with her customers through social media and increasing her sales, all during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a quality case study in how clients can take advantage of the resource within DER3 and make a profitable business pivot within a short period of time, learning new skills and gaining confidence while improving their businesses.
Innovation Island has been supporting technology companies to “build, grow and stay” and has fostered local digital ecosystems (and on Vancouver Island for over 20 years. We love to connect with businesses and tech entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a technology business on Vancouver Island, or connecting to other tech and innovative companies with industry resources and expert advice. If you are looking for Startup assistance, support on commercializing your product, or if you have an innovation or invention you would like to launch or looking for general information on technology on Vancouver Island. Connect with us and we would love to hear from you.
We are proud to serve a region encompassing all communities outside of Victoria, including ~ The Cowichan Valley, Duncan, Ladysmith, Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Port Alberni, Ucluelet, Tofino, Cumberland, Courtenay, Comox, Campbell River, Port Hardy, Port McNeill, the (Southern and Northern) Gulf Islands & the Sunshine Coast.
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