StartUP Sault Ste. Marie is celebrating four years of community building and strengthening of our local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Together with our community partners and fellow entrepreneurs we are making a difference.
StartUP Sault began in early 2014, as a grass-roots movement and has since connected with thousands of entrepreneurs, students and business owners in the community. StartUP Sault has hosted more than 40 events, meetups, pitch contests, film screenings, book clubs, networking events and more.
We connect entrepreneurs with the small business resources available in the community, and provide the support of existing entrepreneurs who are building successful companies. Our programs and events continue to evolve, in the interest of supporting the startup and growth of local businesses.
Many people do not realize that StartUP Sault is completely volunteer driven. We do incredible things with very little resources. This isn’t our job and we don’t receive government funding to do what we do. We are just passionate entrepreneurs who want to build our community.
We are grateful for the sponsorship and partnership dollars we are able to leverage from community partners and in some cases from Startup Canada. Without our partners, we couldn’t hold events that involved renting venues and other costs.
In 2017 alone, StartUP Sault held four Startup Drinks meetups, four Book Clubs, a Startup Pitch Night (with nearly $2,000 in prizes), two boot camp training sessions (finance and social enterprise boot camp) and two speaker series events. Most events are free, and we want to continue to host bigger, better and even more valuable events to support our members and build our community.
We are part of a bigger picture, however. Startup Canada, a national movement, has been connecting, and supporting entrepreneurs across the country for just over five years. The flagship program of Startup Canada is the Startup Communities program. Now numbering more than 50 communities across Canada (we were #16), local entrepreneurs and community champions are volunteering their time and efforts to support local startups and connect local entrepreneurs.
Every Startup Community is different, but they have one common goal, which is to support and grow their local entrepreneurs and help build a supportive ecosystem where startups can thrive.
StartUP Sault announced last week, a new membership program that allows its members to support local entrepreneurship while accessing exclusive benefits. We launched a membership program that is pay-what-you-want, in order to be more inclusive for the community. Community members can sign up for a free membership to access members-only special events and programs, and get listed in our online directory. Free members can also stay in the loop and attend free upcoming events and meetups.
The next tiers of $10, $20 and $40 also get access to exclusive programs like the upcoming Startup Cafe Mentorship program, and access to a members-only Facebook Page where they can share resources, and ask for advice or ask questions to other local entrepreneurs. Facebook Groups are powerful tools, while maintaining privacy, so members are often more willing to ask questions or share details about their own business.
We welcome all of our local entrepreneurs to sign up for a StartUP Sault membership — free or paid, so that they can get involved. Only together can we build a supportive, thriving ecosystem in Sault Ste. Marie.
Any revenues derived from the membership program directly support the growth of StartUP Sault and the development and hosting of unique events, learning opportunities and networking sessions.
StartUP Sault is supporting the growth and development of our members and connecting entrepreneurs in the community. We welcome the support of our members as well as the business community in general.
To become a member or learn more about StartUP Sault, please visit www.startupsault.ca. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date on Startup Sault events, startup tips and other useful information.
Nevin Buconjic is a serial entrepreneur, author and community builder. Nevin is the founder and community lead for StartUP Sault, and winner of the 2017 Startup Canada Entrepreneur Promotion Award for advancing the environment and culture for entrepreneurship in Canada. Find him at www.nevinbuconjic.com