I learned a different approach to getting my business out there…This was a valuable shift for me. – Ionatan Waisgluss, founder of SquareByte.ca
For Ionatan Waisgluss, a tech entrepreneur who studied botany, Powell River ticks many boxes. When the 32-year-old moved to the qathet region from Toronto, in 2014, he was lured by the “magical geography of the ocean and mountains”.
“I was already interested in doing something on my own in tech,” says Ionatan, who immigrated to Canada from Argentina as a child. “The real turning point was when I saw the Business Planning Fundamentals course on Facebook. It really helped me to hunker down and officially launch my business.”
The business planning course was put on by Coastline Colab, a coworking space and entrepreneurial support program, run by the Powell River Educational Services Society. It is part of the larger Powell River Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development (EED) program, created in 2018, as a way to stimulate an entrepreneurship-oriented culture and eco-system. Since its start-up, the Society and Coastline Colab have grown through financing from the Island Coastal Economic Trust.
“The value of (EED) has grown and evolved,” says Scott Randolph, Director of Properties, Development and Communication for the City of Powell River, a main partner. “COVID showed the need for programming for all businesses – from fostering new ones to strengthening existing ones.”
Opening up new opportunities for all business is exactly what the space and programming have done. While COVID presented an initial delay to its opening, the team persevered. They pivoted and partnered with Spring Accelerator to launch a locally-packaged online Business Resilience program in July 2020. And over the next year and a half, Coastline Colab went to work. They held three rounds of the Spring Accelerator Program to 79 participants; offered four online workshops to 90 participants; and delivered two rounds of the Business Planning Fundamentals course to 14 registrants, alongside 50 hours of one-on-one start-up coaching to ten entrepreneurs – one of which was Ionatan.
“It’s been exciting to watch this space become its own little community within our larger community,” says Rachelle Harvey, Program Coordinator and Community Manager for Coastline Colab. “It’s created opportunities for the cross-pollination of ideas and collaboration. Even through the pandemic, it gave people that extra push to start their own businesses after seeing gaps in the market, and we had the programming to help make that move.”
And making the move was exactly what Ionatan did. After taking the Business course, he gained confidence in how he could more effectively grow his business, SquareByte.ca.
“I learned a different approach to getting my business out there,” says Ionatan. “I went from an inside-out approach to outside-in, where I really focused on what I could do for my clients. This was a valuable shift for me.”
Ionatan says the course has helped him create closer professional and personal connections in the business community. And fortunately for him, living in Powell River has allowed him to pursue his “intellectual passion” of working in the virtual world all the while still having access to that magical geography that brought him there in the first place.
ICET has contributed $95,000 towards the Powell River Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development Program (2021) through the DIVERSIFY Capital and Innovation Program.