QUICK SUMMARY OF THE PROGRAM EXPANDING THE CREATIVE NINJA (BUSINESS IN THE STREETS)
On January 29, 2016 The Creative Ninja and I were officially accepted into a program known as the BITS (Business In The Streets) Bootcamp with the purpose of expanding my business knowledge and to potentially obtain a hybrid loan/grant being offered to successful graduates of the program. Of 16 accepted applicants, 11 were enrolled into the program.
The program held 7 Group Sessions on Saturdays from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM from February 6 – March 19. 2016 covering topics ranging from:
- Business Plan & Model
- Market Research
- Marketing & Advertising
- Financial Planning for Business
- Operations Plan
- Legal Advice …and more.
Each participant was also assigned a business mentor with a requirement to meet with them outside of the program hours on Saturday’s to assist them in their weekly business tasks and offer assistance with questions and how to proceed.
The BITS program participants whittled down in numbers during the operating weeks and were left with 6 graduates including myself and my business The Creative Ninja.
Each graduating program participant walked away with a better understanding of their business and a completed business plan to be submitted along with a presentation to a loan/grant review committee to pitch for the money to start or expand their business on March 24, 2016.
With a successful presentation on March 24, 2016, The Creative Ninja and I submitted our materials to apply for the funding. On April 27, 2016 I received a call from the BITS Program Manager, Veronika Kvon (now Kyle Monczack) to notify me that I had been unanimously approved from the Loan/Grant Review Committee for the funding. I literally hung-up that call and did a happy dance in my home office.
I was successful in obtaining my first outside funding and can now focus on expanding my marketing and putting some proper systems in place to handle my growing client base.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE FROM THE BITS PROGRAM
When I first applied for the BITS Program I had mixed feelings as I had been through a few other entrepreneurial programs previously that didn’t really focus a lot on my own business idea; but rather a “cookie cutter” model that generically put your idea to paper (they shall remain nameless). I assumed BITS would also resemble the same model but I decided to apply as after speaking with Veronika (BITS Program Manager) during the application process, it just felt different (and the lure of having a business mentor and acquiring funding to finally expand my business helped a bit too).
The. Experience. Blew. Me. away. Unlike the other cookie cutter programs, BITS delved right into my ideas and actually understood what I was trying to accomplish. Each session gave me more insight into how to apply our presenter’s information to my own business. They genuinely cared to help me succeed and kept reinforcing that concept throughout the program – always offering help whether in the group sessions or one-on-one. Having access to the combined business knowledge and support of my program peers, the mentors, my assigned mentor and the program staff really gave me a sense of community and family that wanted me to accomplish something and succeed.
At the graduation we were able to meet Mark Simpson, Founder and Chair of BITS as well as the panel of decision makers and people involved in supporting the program, which was really amazing. Everyone reinforced the idea of an eco-system and a family to support the graduates and that really is something amazing vs traditional program methodology. It’s not a handshake and you’re done with BITS; you become a close part of the BITS family and network, and that relationship I am very grateful for.
“I would recommend this program to anyone looking to get into entrepreneurship, or like myself, expand their business with fresh ideas with real support to tackle their small business ideas”.
SOME INFORMATION ABOUT BITS
Written By: Matthew Young, CEO & Creative Director, The Creative Ninja
The BITS Program receives funding for its program and financing opportunities through the City of Toronto in partnership with AlternaSavings’ Community Micro Finance Program, The Ontario Trillium Foundation, The Robert Kerr Foundation and Private Donors.