A London business incubator program is helping young entrepreneurs bring their sketches off the paper through mentorship and financial support.
“I definitely think sometimes if you are struggling, failure is part of having a startup and you learn a lot from your mistakes,” said Michelle Stenescu, Propel Entrepreneurship Centre coordinator, regarding more than 11 startups that pushed through a summer incubator which generated more than $750,000 in revenue. “Keep trying and that will actually get you to the next steps of having a successful startup.”
The 16-week intensive program has leaked into the school year, offering interested young entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their ideas for resources and funding needed to maintain a startup in London and abroad.
A coffee aroma filled the collaborative space throughout the summer as Alan Kalbfleisch, 25, experimented with creating a combined coffee pressure brewer and travel mug. Little did he know that by the end of the program he would garner more than $75,000 in Kickstarter sales from about 1,000 prospective customers.
“I’m a coffee enthusiast,” said Kalbfleisch, pointing toward his $45 Pascal Press, his coffee lover mastermind. “I have a lot of coffee gear and I really like experimenting with brewing coffee at home; but, I’m also always on the go and I could never get that same quality coffee while I was out that I could get at home.”
The young Western University alumnus continues his work at Propel, where he collaborates with like-minded businesses, taking his Press across the globe, and into Europe and the Middle East. Although Kalbfleisch has had a taste of success, he constantly reminds himself of his humble beginning.
“If you have a product idea, get it off the paper,” he said. “Build a prototype, nothing that’s going to break the bank, but get it into something that you could hold and test out.”
Through the year-round program and other support systems in London, the forest city could become the next startup hub in the province, with constant local businesses popping up across the city.
$750,000: Sales revenue
1,200: Paying customers
100: Number of countries in which products sold