From tech to toys to takeout, our 10 to Watch entrepreneurs are balancing innovation, passion and business savvy to compete in an increasingly complex marketplace.
The annual Douglas 10 to Watch issue celebrates up-and-coming businesses on Vancouver Island. This year, there was an impressive list to choose from, and it was the duty of our esteemed judging panel to read through the many applications and hold thoughtful discussions to decide on the final 10 showcased here.
But what makes a successful startup? Some of the criteria they pondered included:
CREATIVITY: These are companies that wow us; they are not just following the beaten path. Creativity breeds originality. It gives a business the space to work smarter, not harder. Traditional companies have hierarchies that impede creativity. Entrepreneurs value a diversity of views and ideas, and are willing to take chances, albeit with research and forethought.
VALUES: These originate with a company’s founders and leaders, and consist of doing the right thing in the right way. They include ethics, client connection, team spirit, accountability and a work/life balance. Done right, these values permeate the entire enterprise. There is also a common thread in these winners of concern for the environment and sustainability. Indeed, that is the core business for two of them.
VISION: What lies ahead? It’s often said that it’s harder to grow a business than to start one. Where will a business be in three to five years, and how will it align with a company’s goals and aspirations? It is the “why” for any business.
Another, often elusive, factor in success is the notion of a “unique selling proposition” — the one thing that makes a business better than the competition. It’s a specific and clear benefit that makes a business stand out compared to others in the market. In short, it must define what a company does best.
The 10 companies that follow have checked all these boxes, and we at Douglas can’t wait to see what’s next for them.