Digital and Tech Stories of Economic Growth on Vancouver Island

Hella Phat Vegan – Duncan, BC – Food Services/Production

~DER3 Program: Businesses Benefit from Getting Digital on Vancouver Island ~

Find out how 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, innovation and digital ecosystems, embraced the call to help the mounting challenges that faced small-medium sized businesses due to the COVID crisis. Supporting over 500 businesses and moving the economic dial and future economic growth on Vancouver Island.

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

Hella Phat Vegan entered DER3 in September 2020 as a very small business, selling vegan seasonings made with all natural and gluten free ingredients via farmers’ markets. Business owner Sarah, strongly believes that choosing a vegan lifestyle shouldn’t prevent anybody from experiencing the foods they know and love; she recognizes that a persons’ identity, culture and memories can be deeply tied to the food they eat. Hella Phat Vegan operates on this recognition, and on the conviction that recreating favourite dishes as a vegan alternative, should be as delicious as the original recipe.

As a business-model pivot became inevitable, Sarah wanted to begin expanding her business to sell online. She was interested in exploring new production methods, including commercial kitchens and co-packing facilities, for her current and future product lines.

Getting Digital: Needs Expressed

Hella Phat Vegan had an existing website, built using Wix, but did not have e-commerce capability. Sarah was interested in guidance and resources for adding e-commerce capability to her existing site.  The business did have a social media presence (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube), but was looking for ways to begin using their social channels more effectively. The goals were to build a stronger customer community, then encourage that community to purchase products through the updated website.

Finally, Sarah was interested in creating a broader digital marketing strategy that would guide her through achieving her business goals. 

How DER3 helped the Business

The DER3 team completed an Online Presence Assessment (OPA), which included providing a template for creating a digital marketing strategy and content plan, support in better identifying her target audience, as well as, recommendations such as reusing their YouTube content across other social platforms and creating a LinkedIn business presence.

In addition to advising on e-commerce platforms, which integrated well with the current Wix website, the DER3 team also provided Digital Service Provider (DSP) recommendations in the areas of digital marketing strategy and online merchandising, as well as feedback on the resulting quotes. Advice and troubleshooting on web analytics software was also offered to Sarah. 

To assist with creating a distribution and fulfillment strategy, we provided resources for fulfillment suppliers in Canada and the US, as well advised on other sales channels, including Amazon.
Finally, DER3 advised on an overall digital marketing strategy, connecting Sarah to Island Good (a regional marketing program for locally sourced products), and providing advice on website landing pages, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing strategy,  social media ad templates as well as financing working capital for production, and trademarking.

DER3 Impact, Results, Outcome

Sarah choose one of the recommended DER3 DSPs and has successfully transitioned Hella Phat Vegan, from selling solely at local farmer’s markets to selling to a global audience, on Amazon and through a new e-commerce website platform and working with her chosen DSP and global sales efforts are set to launch in Spring 2021.

In addition, with support from the DSP,  the company has also created new visual content resulting in high-quality brand awareness. The underlying digital marketing strategy is working to position Hella Phat Vegan as a recognizable leader in their market.

Their motivational energy was supported by deep expertise that helped us break through the perceived barriers that were stopping us from getting started, and informed how we should ideally proceed.God’s Pocket Resort

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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