Digital and Tech Stories of Economic Growth on Vancouver Island

Kelly Corbett – Nanoose Bay, BC – Artist

~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.

#getdigital #supportlocalvi #der3

DER3 Client: Business Summary

Kelly was beginning her second year as a full time artist – Kelly Corbett when she entered the DER3 program.  Prior to COVID-19, Kelly had displayed her work by  hosting exhibits at local galleries; she had also been successfully using Instagram and Facebook to drive customers to her e-commerce website, where she offered commissions, prints and art cards for sale. By Summer 2020 her gallery opportunities were diminishing as some of these spaces became closed to the public/experienced significant decreases in attendance, and Kelly was looking for ways to elevate her marketing strategies and practices online.

Getting Digital: Needs Expressed

In considering ways to increase her online sales, Kelly was interested in upgrading her website with an Augmented Reality (AR) feature she had seen successfully implemented on other artist’s websites called “Artstorefronts”. This AR software was expensive but Kelly felt she needed to make a big move in order to crank up the sales dial. However, Kelly was unsure how to implement an update of this nature, and wanted referrals to potential Digital Service Providers who could assist. 

Kelly was also looking for recommendations and guidance on improving her online presence and social media marketing. She knew she needed funding to implement her targeted website updates and other digital marketing goals, and asked for DER3 assistance in identifying funding opportunities that she could potentially qualify for.

Finally, Kelly had a program concept she wanted to explore. This program, which she called “The Business of Art,” was aimed at helping other artists run successful artist businesses online. Kelly was looking for feedback and support from DER3 in planning, creating and launching this offering.

How DER3 helped the Business

The DER3 team began by completing an Immediate Action Plan (IAP) and Online Presence Assessment (OPA) and provided detailed, actionable feedback for improving her digital and social media marketing activities; suggestions including updating her Google My Business and securing a more relevant domain name. 

To assist with further investigation and facilitation of her targeted website updates, DER3 compiled and provided a list of local DSP recommendations with the skills to meet her needs.

Potential funding opportunities were identified and provided to Kelly, including information about the Oceanside Rebound funding program for which she qualified due to her location and digital needs. As part of qualifying this funding program, Kelly provided the IAP and OPA documents from the DER3 Program.

DER3 provided resources for Kelly to establish herself as a business (vs. only an artist) and coached her on strategies to increase her marketing efforts. DER3 provided resources on how to advise or coach other artists, and information on courses that would help her develop her “The Business of Art” program offering.

DER3 Impact, Results, Outcome

In the end, Kelly was awarded the Oceanside Rebound funding due in part to the fact that she had participated in the DER3 Program. She then applied this new funding towards implementing her planned website update, after consulting with the DSPs that DER3 had recommended. 

Kelly also implemented some of the items included in her OPA results, and her online communities have since grown.

Ultimately, Kelly has increased online sales dramatically and significantly exceeded her sales goals for 2020. Her sales in the first quarter of 2021 are approximately a 60% increase over Q1 of 2020 so she is off to a fantastic start to the year. Kelly says that currently, her biggest hurdle is time management – how to set aside enough time to create her art, so that she can keep up with the increased demand.

Provided motivation to focus on my digital presence. I’ve had my best year of sale ever! It went beyond my expectations.

Kelly Corbett

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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