Grandma Treesaw’s Yukon Bannock is getting prepared for the U.S. North West market!

2020 YUKONSTRUCT BOOTCAMP KICKOFF – Photo by Alistair Maitland Photography

Teresa Ward, owner of Grandma Treesaw’s Yukon Bannock and recent graduate of Yukonstruct Startup Bootcamp, has been invited by the Trade Commissioner Service’s British Columbia-Yukon office and Seattle office to participate in a pilot project.

Teresa is the only participant from the Yukon, along with 5 other indigenous-owned companies from British Columbia.

This is a pilot project with room for only 6 indigenous-owned small companies that are in food, beverages or consumer goods, with enough ability to produce and motivation to actively get prepared for the U.S. North West market.

This pilot-program will support the participants with a range of export services in order to establish goals and objectives for Washington State market entry, organize meetings with retailers, develop appropriate marketing material and set up an e-commerce avenue for Canadian companies to sustain follow-up sales in Washington State and Oregon.

Teresa is of the Crow Clan, born and raised with Tlingit traditions. She produces and distributes bannock mix throughout many Yukon retailers.

Teresa graduated from Yukonstruct Startup Bootcamp last spring and continues to be supported by the Yukonstruct team since then. Yukonstruct Startup Bootcamp is an intensive 3-month program for early-stage entrepreneurs to develop and validate their business idea. The next cohort will start in September, Yukon startups and entrepreneurs have until August 21st to apply. This program is funded by the Government of Yukon – department of Economic Development and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

Checking In On Firebean Coffee Roasters

Local entrepreneurs and business owners are having a unique experience during this unprecedented time of COVID 19. Many of them have responded in fascinating and inspiring ways; applying the grit, creativity and courage inherent in starting your own business. We believe there is great value in seeing this through their lens.

In our Checking In On series, we will share their experiences of running a business under circumstances they likely never imagined, hopefully provide some inspiration, and an opportunity to feel connected to some of the people who make this community special.

Our first entrepreneur is Mike Russo of Firebean Coffee Roasters:

How are you adapting your business to the new way of doing things?

Online, online, online.

We have had to shift how we connect with our customer base.  Although some of our wholesale partners are intact, tourism and gift shop traffic has been significantly impacted. That being said, our local customer and their needs/wants haven’t gone anywhere, so we’ve adjusted how we get our product to them.

We’ve gone online in a bigger way than ever and reduced barriers to safely getting Firebean with discount codes and free contact-less delivery. We’ve been spending a lot of time learning how to deliver a comfortable online purchase experience, the universe of SEO and its impact on website and online behaviour. Facebook ads too!

Conversion rates, web copy, abandoned carts – all of it – is a work in progress. In a funny way, COVID has rattled up our model for the better. . . we have always wanted to up our online game a bit and this has pushed us to do so rapidly.

What, if anything, will you keep from your new approach once the social distancing measures have been lifted?

The e-commerce component of our business is here for good. Whether we like it or not, our customer base is shopping online. We will continue to develop how we connect and serve our customer with an online model, post COVID 19.

The free, contact-less delivery has also been pretty smooth. People peek out from behind doors, pop-up over fences, and show up in windows with a wave. That can be kind of exciting during this “distancing”.

Also, I have 3 kids at home under 7 so a 1 hour solo delivery session is a dream sometimes lol! (editor’s note: that does sound dreamy, let me know if you need an assistant).

I will continue to learn about e-commerce and offering delivery, if the market says they want it, of course.

What new observations have you gleaned about your business, customers, or community as a result of this situation?

One observation is you can see how sensitive our connection to one another is – how much our connections matter! When one takes a hit, it trickles down and hurts everyone, when one succeeds; it helps others.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Whitehorse, and its people, are awesome! Super supportive of local businesses, especially in times like these. There seems to be a stronger sense of community than ever before. People are donating, liking and sharing posts, propping people up, making lists of services being offered, having contests, offering discounts etc…  People popping out of the wood-work to lend a hand and inspiring me to personally do the same! In fact, as a way to give back, we are offering 10% of sales on select sizes to the food bank!

How can Yukoners continue to support you?

Offering feedback on what they want, what they like, what they don’t. Liking posts, sharing posts, purchasing coffee. Buying anything local!

Thanks so much, Mike! We really appreciate how quickly you were able to pivot and problem solve during a stressful time, and not just because we still get to drink your coffee, but because it is really inspiring to see.

If you are a member of NorthLight, checkout our Cospace and Makespace Facebook groups for a little treat :).


10 Ways a Pre Accelerator Will Put Your Business on the Right Path

You have an idea for a startup and you want to know if it is going to set you on the path to successful entrepreneurship. You believe in the idea and you know there’s work to be done to prove its validity. But you want to be sure the work you are doing is right.

A Bootcamp program is designed to take your idea to the next level by guiding you through the next steps, so you can execute them with confidence. It’s the next move for many startups for a reason, well 10. . .

Here are the top 10 things you will get from a good pre-accelerator, or bootcamp, program:

1) Clarify that your idea can be a successful business

A bootcamp is a crash course in identifying if your idea can become a tangible business. The program identifies and tests the elements of your startup that will work and helps you refine the components that require some attention.

2) Connect to a supportive community and knowledgeable network

Joining a bootcamp program early in your journey will connect you to a cohort of people who can empathize with your experience, supportive facilitators who are invested in your business, and a network of experienced and skilled mentors with wisdom to pass on to you. Having social and emotional support in place at this juncture can make all the difference in how likely you are to see your idea through.

3) Lay the foundation that success is built on 

A Bootcamp clears your mind of the mental barriers keeping you from tackling the nitty gritty of a solid foundation to build on.  This is the space where things get done. Your elevator pitch, customer discovery, defining your sales cycle, customer acquisition, you’ll roll up your sleeves and get it done so that when your business or market require you to be agile and flexible, you can be -without breaking.  

4) Achieve more clarity than you thought was possible

As the saying goes “You don’t know what you don’t know”.  Bootcamp programs provide you with the environment to identify, test, and reiterate. You action the concepts you are learning in real time, allowing you to discover the nuances of your target market, the specifics of your sales funnel, and where you need to pivot. Ultimately, you gain a depth of understanding only experience can provide.

5) Grow your network

A bootcamp offers immediate access to mentors, investors and advisors. It gives you a head-start and teaches you how to expand your network as you grow and your business needs change..

6) Optimize your approach to work

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. A bootcamp program will help to develop and hone your skills, identify undiscovered strengths, and support you in finding efficient ways to manage the challenging elements of your business. You will graduate from a bootcamp understanding the critical skills that will influence your success and where to seek outside support.

7) Manage Risks

Identifying the potential risks and vulnerabilities of your business is imperative to having a reliable contingency plan. Bootcamp programs prepare you to pivot, reassess, and carry on, mitigating damage to your business.

8) Set long-term objectives

One foot in front of the other can be a great survival tactic but a long-term plan is essential to keeping you on track and motivated.  This can be easier said than done, so having access to experienced mentors and facilitators can be a total game-changer. They have the experience and knowledge to predict what is going to set you on the path to success and what may hinder your growth or sustainability.

9) Stay motivated

Having a supportive community is essential to your mental health. But did you know it also keeps you motivated? Not only are you exposed to a steady supply of empathy, but you also get to see first hand the successes and fallbacks of your cohort. You get to learn from them and share the insights and lessons you’re picking up along the way. You’re teaching as much as you are learning, and that makes for a special experience.

10) Continued support post-program

The goal of an accelerator is to see you and your company succeed and that doesn’t happen in 12-short weeks. After you graduate from the program, you continue to have access to support with check-ins, invitations to programs and resources that are a fit with your business, and introductions to funders and investors. In short, by joining a pre-accelerator, you become a part of a broader community that is invested in seeing you thrive.


If you are interested in learning more about what a Bootcamp can do for you, book a free consultation to speak with one of our facilitators!