Pitch It! Plan It! Build It!

Start-up companies need lots of support, from our friends and family who understand why we are working late and always on the phone, to the incredibly valuable advice offered to young entrepreneurs. This week, The XY Hemp Corporation is meeting and working with start-up accelerators in Victoria and Edmonton for additional support.

The Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs (ICE) at the University of Victoria has been an excellent resource during the development of our business plan. After an initial intake meeting, we were directed towards Lean Stack, an online platform that helps entrepreneurs define their products and markets more clearly. These one-page descriptions of our products and customers are perfect for showcasing where we are now, and where we want to be in five years.

We are  participating in a few pitch and plan competitions through ICE this spring. My video submission for PitchIt! is online now, so please watch it and give me a little “heart” so The XY Hemp Corporation can win $500. I will be presenting the elevator pitch live for a panel of judges on March 31st, for another cash prize of $300. These funds will help C and I travel to Saskatchewan this summer to work with Breadroot Farms.

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ICE entrepreneur coach, Robin Milne, has been absolutely amazing. He has helped get my pitch and plan together by providing advice, resources, and letting me just talk things out. Recently, he helped to edit a short company description to submit to TEC Edmonton. The submission was successful and we have an initial meeting with TEC Edmonton Thursday March 19. The XY Hemp Corporation is looking to access the support of a larger start-up accelerator, and TEC Edmonton is the best in Canada!

TEC Edmonton was named the number one start-up incubator in Canada and the number three university business incubator in North America in 2014.  We are most interested in the services provided by the business development, technology management and entrepreneur education teams. TEC Edmonton is an ideal partner as we move beyond the pilot and expanded production phase and into processing industrial hemp. The TEC Venture prize is also an amazing opportunity for start-ups to access capital for expansion, and we hope to be able to compete in that competition after we have solidified our processing goals.

We are extremely grateful for the support we have already received, from Breadroot Farms, Larry Marshall and ICE, just to name a few! With their help we have developed a viable business case for 2015 that will be presented at the ICE PlanIt! competition on April 2nd. If we are successful in that competition, The XY Hemp Corporation will win $5000, which will contribute to our input costs and the transportation of hemp seeds to the commercial buyer. Farming is uncertain and more capital will give us more flexibility when responding to growing conditions this summer. We are very excited to work with ICE to pitch it and plan it, and hope to work with TEC Edmonton in the future to build our dream.

-K

P.S. link to PitchIt! video is: http://uvicpitchitonline.hscampaigns.com/ . Remember to click the little heart!

 

Organic Farming in 2015

I am beyond excited to be organic farming this coming summer. Although I have been interested in growing hemp for over 2 years now, last fall my dream began to transform into reality. When my business partner and I began to look for a suitable piece of land to grow a pilot hemp crop,  we were open to conventional farming, but were fortunate enough to find organic farming partners.

Our longterm goal is to build a fully integrated processing facility, using waste hemp fibres to create new products, but I recognize that we have a lot to learn before we get to that stage. This goal does motivate us to look for the most sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. With no farming experience, we were looking for mentors in conventional or organic farming to lease land and machinery to grow a pilot crop and we did not expect to find organic land easily. I found an online land linking service provided by the Government of Canada, the Agriculture Management Institute, and the Government of Ontario called FARMLink. This website is a meeting point for new farmers, established farmers and farmland owners. After building a profile describing the land in which we were looking for (50+ acres in Alberta or Saskatchewan) and ourselves (new young farmers with no experience looking for mentorship to grow industrial hemp) we were contacted within days by established farmers near Canora Saskatchewan.

The match could not have been better! Hélène and Al own a large organic farm in eastern Saskatchewan, close the the Manitoba boarder, called Breadroot Farms. The Government of Manitoba has been extremely supportive of the industrial hemp market since legalization in Canada in 1998. This support has enabled the development of a hemp food processing industry lead by Manitoba Harvest and Hemp Oil Canada. Although Al and Hélène have never grown hemp before, they have over 20 years of experience in organic farming and are excited mentors for young farmers of the future. Consider contacting them if you are looking to settle on pristine organic land and continue a tradition of sustainable farming in Saskatchewan.

The opportunity to grow our pilot crop on organic land using traditional organic practices is a dream come true. From the very start, our company will embody our beliefs about building a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future. We can all influence this future through the products we buy, how we choose to earn a living, how we vote and our conversations. Through mentorship, collaboration and innovation our dream of growing hemp begins this summer.