"If you want something in life, you have to make it happen!" says Maxime Clément. This attitude has served him well. When he was still in university, this born entrepreneur helped set up a cooperative "makerspace" technology workshop before starting Le Labo - Solutions Brassicoles (Le Labo) in February 2015.
Located in La Pocatière, in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, the start-up specializes in yeast and bacteria production for microbreweries.
These days, business is good. But that doesn't mean it's been easy. Here are some of the challenges Le Labo has faced along the way, and how its team has overcome them:
Challenge 1: Building trust
Le Labo didn't start marketing their products until early 2018, but they already supply to about 50 of Quebec's 200 microbreweries, and to a handful of clients in Ontario.
They've become the first Quebec producers of liquid ferments for local microbrewers. Until Le Labo entered the market, the industry had no other choice but to buy from U.S. suppliers.
How did they break into the market?
"We had to build trust with our clients and partners," says Clément. "We had to work really hard to convince them it was worth coming on board."
Challenge 2: Finding the right people
Le Labo also offers advisory services, which is often their calling card--so there's no room for error. "It was crucial that we find the right people with the right skills," says Clément, who is CEO. The start-up now has 6 employees, including the 3 co-owners. It also supports a master's student and funds her research. "I'm really proud of our team and the entourage we've created. It's a very high-quality ecosystem!"
Challenge 3: Finding funds--the lifeblood of the business
It took many months for Le Labo to make their first sales, because they didn't have the funds to buy the equipment they needed. "Créavenir came along at the right time - This link will open in a new window.-thanks to this program, we were able to purchase a key piece of equipment, which increased our productivity by 20%."
Challenge 4: Seeing the big picture
Le Labo has huge plans for the future. "Our goal is sell our micro-organisms across Canada, and in the Northeastern United States," says Clément. And they don't want to limit themselves to yeast--they also want to establish research partnerships in a number of countries. "We'd like to contribute to scientific advancements and help the world develop better products." It's an ambitious goal, but they won't settle for anything less.
4 tips for aspiring entrepreneurs
1. Start small
When you land on the right idea, everything will start falling into place.
2. Surround yourself with the right people
There are a number of programs and organizations that offer help for start-up owners, so see what's available in your area!
3. Be disciplined
As an entrepreneur, you get to set your own schedule, but you need to be disciplined to make it work.
4. Be confident
Don't be shy about talking to people. When you're starting out, you might feel that you don't have much credibility. You can't let that stop you, though. Go after what you want and share your ideas--otherwise, nothing will happen!