Digital and Tech Stories of Economic Growth on Vancouver Island

Sienna G – Shawnigan Lake, BC – Retail

~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

Sienna started creating jewelry in 2010 and started Raven & Firefligh in 2012, selling mainly at local markets and events. R&F creates genuine, one-of-a-kind gemstone jewelry, handcrafted with love on Vancouver Island. Sienna uses ethically-sourced stones and verified metallurgic findings from local mines and local rock-hounds whenever possible. 

Sienna had been using Instagram/Facebook and had accumulated a small amount of followers. She also had some of her products on Etsy (off and on), however in recent years her primary revenue source was in-person markets and shows. Sienna also didn’t have a customer list and was looking for best practices at creating one.

She dabbled in listing her jewelry on local eCommerce websites and when artisan attendance at markets was restricted at the start of Covid-19 she knew she needed to move her jewelry business officially online. She was struggling to make sales as in-person markets were her sole source of revenue. 

Getting Digital: Needs Expressed

Sienna sought out the DER3 Program as she was interested in creating a website and learning how to effectively use social media for her business. Her budget for creating an eCommerce website was only $500 so she was also open to learning how to Do It Herself (DIY). She has some technical ability as she had once learned to code in Python. Funding opportunities were allocated in order to help support her eCommerce development.

How DER3 helped the Business

The DER3 Team worked with Sienna frequently throughout the duration of the program. Initially a basic Online Presence Assessment was conducted which looked at her digital and social presence. Recommendations included creating a Google My Business Page, LinkedIn page and creating a Social Media Strategy. The DER3 Team provided coaching, guidance and resources to help Sienna DIY. It was decided that WordPress was the best option as Sienna had some technical acumen. The DER3 Team also provided funding resources and referred her to the Alacrity Digital Marketing Bootcamp to up her skills in social media.

In March, with additional funding through Innovate BC, Sienna was able to receive extra Digital Service Provider hours to provide her with hands-on website and social media support. This included training the client on:

  • how to set up hosting and WordPress install on back end,
  • use a theme and implement templates,
  • use excel to import products into WooCommerce,
  • how to set up and use headers, footers, menus, plugins.

DER3 Impact, Results, Outcome

While working with the DER3 Program, she created a new eCommerce website, started actively selling on Facebook and Instagram and implemented a digital payment system. Overall, Sienna felt an increased confidence in her ability to work on her website site herself. She now has the skills she needs to be able to make changes and additions to her website as needed to increase sales in the future. Sienna reengaged with the DER3 Program in August 2021 and was looking for continued support to upload her products to her new site and to get her website launched. With additional funding from the DER3 Program, she was matched with a local Digital Service Provider – Elite Image to put the final touches on her website, products and SEO set up and get her website launched.  During the course of the program Raven and Firelight has seen a revenue increase of over 60% (way to go Sienna).

Spring 2021: The entire program has been transformative. I have struggled with digital technology and the confidence/knowledge base needed to use it. Covid took 100% of my revenues as I operated entirely in person and my industry was prevented from participating in the economy under PHO regs. Transitioning to digital eCommerce has not only saved my business, but it has allowed me to grow it.

Fall 2021: Innovation Island and the Digital Service Providers I’ve worked with have helped me to save my business through the pandemic. They have been resourceful, responsive, creative, encouraging and technically skilled in helping me transition my business online. It has been years of trying unsuccessfully until now.


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. 

#innovationisland  #innovation #islandtech #vanisletech #bcaccelerator  #techisland #bctech #bcbusiness #innovatebc #buildstaygrow #cdntesch #startups #vancouverislandtech #techisland #startup #tech #techstartup #technology #collaboration #startuplife 

#lovewhereyoulive #lovewhereyouwork #vancouverisland #islandentreprenuers #theresnoplacelikehome #entrepreneur #getstuffdone #digitalhelp #techislandlife

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