Geneviève Matton | Desjardins Group
Despite the economic slowdown over the past few years, Quebec's Mauricie region is proving to be a real incubator for young companies and business ideas. Pierre-Yves Rousselle and Rachel Frigon have made it home base for their successful business, Attractif (in French only).
The young entrepreneurs faced a variety of challenges while navigating their successful launch.
1. Time management
"We left lucrative jobs to start our own company. It's a couple-owned--or family-owned business--I should say," says Pierre-Yves. The parents of two young children managed to find a good balance between work and home.
"The passion we share actually drives what we do. We don't look at what we're doing as a challenge, necessarily. It actually gives us better control over a busy schedule."
2. The search for financing
If you're starting a company, you're going to be looking for financing. After an initial start-up loan from a local community development fund, the Société d'aide au développement des collectivités Centre-de-la-Mauricie (SADC), the couple's project was selected by the Créavenir program.
"The Desjardins Business centre - Mauricie and the SADC offered us support and $10,000 in Créavenir financing. That let us do more tech R&D and provided us with working capital for large volume orders," explains Pierre-Yves. The financing was also a springboard for obtaining other financial services, including a line of credit and a loan from a local investment fund.
3. Adapting to the market
Attractif helps businesses shift into the digital space with touchscreen technology, geopositioning and content integration. In addition to an original concept, the young company stands out from its competitors because of an ability to adapt to the needs of clients of all sizes, even small businesses with limited financial resources.
Although Attractif primarily serves businesses in the Mauricie, it also has clients in several other cities in Quebec.
4. The right support
"It's been proven that solid support doubles a company's chances of survival. Business mentors not only enable young entrepreneurs to look at the bigger picture for managing the company, but they also provide guidance and help the business leaders make the best decisions for the future of the business," says Simon Charlebois, the Director of the SADC Centre-de-la-Mauricie.
In the Mauricie, that relationship dynamic translates into concrete initiatives like the Shawinigan entrepreneurial community (Communauté entrepreneuriale Shawinigan), which provides structure for new entrepreneurs.
That also rings true for Roland Garceau. He's a business start-up advisor for the Department of Economic Development at the City of Shawinigan, which supports businesses that have been up and running for less than 5 years and welcomes them into the fold of a local entrepreneurial centre, the Centre d'entrepreneuriat Alphonse-Desjardins Shawinigan (CEADS).
"This place is a bit like an ecosystem for business start-up and development. The structure and support provided at Digihub gives Pierre-Yves and Rachel a better chance for success. It's a strategic resource that provides a collaborative working space and training and meeting facilities with cutting-edge technology. Entrepreneurs can come to CEADS expecting ongoing support that will keep challenging them to grow and achieve their projects."
5. The value of networking
After having received support and help from several other entrepreneurs, Pierre-Yves and Rachel were ready to get involved. They joined Jeunes Shawinigan Inc., a community for entrepreneurs under 35 with a mission to develop and expand the experience and the potential of business leaders while fostering Shawinigan's collective wealth.
The group participates in networking activities, gets involved in events for young entrepreneurs and reaches out to local high schools to talk about entrepreneurship and how group members got where they are. "Getting involved in the community is the best advice I can give to someone who wants to get started in business. And not just for professional development, but for personal development, too!" says Pierre-Yves.
Company name: Attractif
Head office: Shawinigan
Launch: February 2016
Sector: Technology and innovation
Employees: 4 full-time employees and 6 contracts workers
Web site: www.attractif.ca (in French only)