Digital and Tech Stories of Economic Growth on Vancouver Island

Dave Ball – Courtenay, BC – Retail (U-Brew / U-Vin)

~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

One of four Comox Valley UBrew businesses, VanIsle Wine and Beer Makers offers on premise wine & beer making service and supplies which has over 30 Wines and 40 Beers available. In addition, clients can make Cider, Sparkling Wine, Coolers & Wines made with their own fruit. The company has been one of Comox Valley’s popular on-premises wine and beer making services and supplies since 1983. Previously known as Corks and Caps, the business was bought by Dave Ball and Tracy Bassam in 2018. David has an IT services background and in his “semi-retirement” purchased the business including the businesses assets, not the original name, which led to a need to rebrand and relaunch his business under the new name. 

In addition to the rebrand, Dave wanted to increase his local market share and attract a younger clientele, as the majority of his existing customer base was aging (70+). His goals included capitalizing on his unique line of products (e.g. making custom craft beer from scratch, and custom fruit wines, ciders and coolers), bringing back customers who tried a UBrew in the past but weren’t happy with the quality (products have made vast improvements in quality recently) and customers that are interested in controlling the ingredients in their beverages (knowing what they are drinking). His previous marketing efforts included an expensive 5,000 piece direct mail marketing campaign recently which resulted in a 0% percent return. Due to the nature of their business there are restrictions on what they can “sell” online. He knew he needed to expand into the digital world in a unique way to achieve his sales goals. 

Getting Digital: Needs Expressed

Dave came into the DER3 program looking for recommendations on how to revamp his website under the new business name, how to develop an effective brand strategy, how to pivot his marketing to reach his new target markets and how to improve the website and social media presence. Dave also had a small budget and was looking for advice on how to choose the right Digital Service Provider (DSP) from the recommendations that were provided.

How DER3 helped the Business

After his intake, Dave was assigned to DER3 Business Advisor who worked with him to understand his revenue model and define goals for growth. The Advisor helped define and document his target markets in order to better understand their buying habits, how to reach them and identify how their needs were unmet by competitors. This resulted in clarity around how much marketing effort would be required to pivot to these new target audiences and how to market the products and services that those markets’ value.

Dave was already working with a web developer but needed additional support. As a result the DER3 Team referred Dave onto Digital Service Providers (DSPs) to obtain quotes to provide him with new website content, develop and implement a digital marketing strategy and create a photo inventory for use in both.

Throughout the process DER3 provided advice to Dave to navigate the website design process and content development. In March, with additional funding through Innovate BC, Dave was able to receive extra DSP hours to evaluate their existing digital marketing campaign, look for ways to increase user engagement and integrate their email marketing with their digital campaign. 

DER3 Impact, Results, Outcome

The website development process is now complete (although improvements are ongoing) and is currently live. Social media marketing efforts are underway and reflect the new brand (name and logo) and new photography. Dave and team are now focusing on creating awareness and engagement on both these new platforms, driving customers to their website and eventually to their store.

As a result of focusing on his business’ differentiating factors, Dave invested in (and advertised its addition of) fruit pressing equipment which resulted in a unique service to their customers. As a result they surpassed their annual revenue goals nearly four months early and paid off the investment in the new equipment within weeks. This resulted in the business operating at full capacity for several months in the fall, which is expected to not only recur but grow as awareness of the service grows.

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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