By the time Jason Janes left the east coast of the province to return home to the west coast he had already seen what could happen when entrepreneurs connect.
Janes is a co-founder of StartupNL, a St. John’s-based entrepreneurial group that was formed to help startups build their businesses and to bring entrepreneurs together.
While it had done some things on the west coast the group was primarily an east coast entity.
“We really weren’t giving the west coast any attention,” he said.
When he came back to this area Janes noticed something similar was happening here on the west coast as had been on the east coast — that entrepreneurs here aren’t communicating well together.
So the businessman behind NL Insider decided to try to change that, and about a year and a half ago founded Western NL Entrepreneurs. There are about 400 self-identified entrepreneurs from Port aux Basques to St. Anthony who have joined the group.
“As Western NL we just want entrepreneurs to connect, meet each other (and) create an environment where entrepreneurs can feel comfortable in starting failing, failing forward and trying again.”
As entrepreneurs mature the goal is to make sure they know how to connect with other groups out there that assist entrepreneurs.
“It’s almost embarrassing how much we have available to us,” said Janes, “but there’s so much we often don’t know how to find it.”
He said by sitting around and talking to other entrepreneurs he learns of people who can help in his own business ventures or of mentors who are familiar with certain topics or issues.
To keep connected the group holds startup coffee clubs up and down the coast that attract from 10-30 members at a time, depending on the location.
The group also holds founders’ dinners and in conjunction with local community partners has held a startup weekend and a create-a-thon.
Now that the connections have been made by bringing the entrepreneurs together, in the new year the group will move into some next-step events.
Coming up in January is a Pitches and Pitchers event in conjunction with Molson where entrepreneurs will get a chance to pitch business ideas to an audience and receive feedback on their pitches from mentors.
Janes said he calls it a next step, as it’s about getting the entrepreneurs to connect with mentors. The goal is to see mentors get more involved in the community, which could lead to more investors getting involved.
“And then the community really starts to foster and grow and take on its own.”