After seeing a web posting promoting BCIC's 2011 Commercialization and Business Planning workshop, Prince George entrepreneur Scott Scholerfield (@OutfAshesBioEn) decided to take a chance and apply to learn more on how he could grow his startup. The decision to apply and then land one of eight spots in the program was one of the best investments in his company he's ever made! Thanks to the workshop, Scott is now moving forward with his business and marketing plans for his company, Out of Ashes Bioenergy Inc., a small-scale producer of energy and high-quality soil amendment (Designer Biochars) which can repair and improve soil.
"Amazonian cultures nearly 7,000 years ago used plant charcoal to develop rich, dark Terra Preta soils which enhanced soil productivity and helped civilizations survive," said Scott. "Biochars, as they are called now, are becoming the focus of carbon capture in battle against climate change." As a former landscaper and current Registered Professional Forester, Scott could see the potential impact utilizing waste biomass to provide clean, sustainable heat and increase soil fertility, which is what led him to create Out of Ashes Bioenergy Inc.
Earlier this year, Scott participated in the three-day workshop led by Mark Dance, formerly with Creo. The workshop provides entrepreneurs building a new or early-stage company with necessary business skills and knowledge to commercialize their technologies. Following the three days of course content, entrepreneurs in the program receive three hours of one-on-one mentoring time with Mark to further develop their business plan. For Scott, this has been the highlight of the program so far.
"The one-on-one mentoring with Mark has been incredibly valuable in helping me develop focus and build value for customers," said Scott. "The hardest part of my journey as an entrepreneur is the questionable days when doubt creeps in and I wonder, ‘Am I on the right track?' I've learned that business mentors, like Mark, and support networks in the community, like BCIC, are the most valuable asset."
While Scott further develops his marketing and business plans post-workshop, he will also begin production and sales in early 2012. He already has plans to bring on one to two interns to support his company's development.
In collaboration with Mark and the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), BCIC is proud to offer the workshop again to BC companies in 2012. Applications are currently being accepted. Although all companies are open to apply, priority will be given to clean tech or clean energy companies.
For those living outside of the Lower Mainland - like Scott who resides in Prince George - BCIC is also offering five $1,000 bursary to select participants to provide assistance on travel expenses.
For more information about the program, click here. Application deadline is January 9, 2012.