Project Zero’s Latest Cohort are Enviro Champions

Photo of Laska Pare
Laska Pare, recent graduate of the Project Zero Incubator Program.

Environmental sustainability and climate change mitigation have remained at the forefront of business disruption and innovation as we navigate the pandemic, a trend Project Zero‘s most recent cohort emphasizes with their new businesses and products.

Project Zero is an eight-month Business Incubator program for circular economy ventures, produced through the Synergy Foundation and Synergy Enterprises.

It was founded on the notion that innovative ideas for reducing, repurposing, and revolutionizing waste are models for the  resiliency our future economy needs—and the direction it is already heading. 

The program gives new circular business ideas and early start-ups the opportunity to create their business plans, learn business operation fundamentals and entrepreneurial skills, connect with mentors, and develop a pitch for their business.  

Laska Paré is one of the program’s latest graduates. Her venture, Flipside Plastics, is a local plastic micro-recycling business. Right now all plastic waste collected on Vancouver Island is shipped off-island for processing. This process contributes to climate change and is a lost opportunity for creating local businesses and jobs. Flipside looks to change this process by diverting recyclables tossed in the blue bin into aesthetically pleasing, curated retail products.  

“There are so many questions and things to learn as an entrepreneur,” she says. “The program allowed me to have a sample of everything. Sure, there’s more to learn (there always is) but there’s a lot more on my radar now and that awareness has made me more confident, even though the work still needs to get done. Through the team’s support, encouragement and knowledge and experience in the industry, I was able to see the influence I could have and visualize the potential impact of my business a lot sooner. Exploring the potential of our bigness as a business has already opened a lot of doors and pushed me to do things I otherwise would have waited to do.”

Jackie Jensen, founder of Thread Lightly.

Thread Lightly is another graduate of the program. The business upcycles burlap coffee bags, hotel linens, and other waste materials into reusable bags and various soft goods. In one year it has diverted 350 pounds of hotel linens from the landfill. Founder Jackie Jensen lauds Project Zero for achieving exactly what she was looking for. “It’s made me a more rounded business person,” she tells Douglas. “I have never been a ‘numbers’ person, but thanks to all the time spent on this area, I have a much better understanding. The guest speakers brought another ‘real life’ aspect to the incubator. Talking with a lawyer and tax accountant about everyday issues was enlightening. There are many takeaways for me from this program. One is to have a solid business plan that you review yearly. To do that, you need to know all the small details.”

All nine of the graduating ventures are set to launch or expand their businesses and contribute to a sustainable economic recovery on Vancouver Island. “The Project Zero team is looking forward to watching these businesses as they grow and establish themselves in the coming year,” says Synergy Enterprises CEO Jill Doucette. 

The 2020 Cohort Businesses:  

  1. Basecamp Repairs 

Business concept: Vancouver Islands’ first outdoor gear repair company, keeping  technical gear working for as long as possible. 

Entrepreneur: Alex Walsh-Piedrahita & Nicholas Courval 

City: Greater Victoria  

  1. BioFlame Renewable Heating Solutions  

Business concept: Using waste biomass to create carbon neutral energy for commercial  and residential customers. 

Entrepreneur: Marcus Woerlne 

City: Chemainus 

  1. Flipside Plastics  

Business concept: Micro recycling centre set up to process and repurpose plastic into thoughtfully curated products. 

Entrepreneur: Laska Paré

City: Greater Victoria  

  1. Polar Engineering  

Business concept: Engineering and installing energy recovery systems through one of a  kind refrigeration systems and heat pumps to drastically reduce carbon emissions and  operation costs. 

Entrepreneur: Ian Welle 

City: Greater Victoria  

  1. Positively Clean Co. 

Business concept: Offering concentrated, plant-based, zero-waste cleaning products,  including all-purpose cleaner tablets, glass & mirror tablets, solid dish soap blocks, bar  soap for hands & natural bristle dish brushes. 

Entrepreneur: Leanne Allen 

City: Greater Victoria  

  1. Salt Legacy 

Business concept: Upcycling material from journeyed sails into a variety of bags ranging  from simple everyday shopping bags to adventure backpacks and fanny packs.

Entrepreneur: Meaghan McDonald 

City: Greater Victoria  

  1. Tesla Tours 

Business concept: Offering private, customized, luxury tours on Vancouver Island in  solar-powered Tesla vehicles. 

Entrepreneur: Kevin Belanger 

City: Greater Victoria  

  1. The Diverters 

Business concept: A non-profit that is creating economic opportunities, destigmatizing  binners (bottle collectors), diverting waste, and promoting social cohesion among  members of the binning community. 

Entrepreneur: Joe Minor 

City: Greater Victoria  

  1. Thread Lightly  

Business concept: Upcycling burlap coffee bags, hotel linens, and other recovered  materials into reusable bags and other soft goods. 

Entrepreneur: Jackie Jensen 

City: Greater Victoria  

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