The Valley REN recently joined in a curated discussion with John Frost, a local entrepreneur and technology enthusiast, at an event hosted by Refresh Annapolis Valley. We were inspired by the lessons John learned and shared, and think you might be, too!

Like many entrepreneurs, John and his team faced various challenges in growing Frostbyte. Along the way, John learned some valuable lessons that are applicable to entrepreneurs in any industry: collaborate, focus on the pain points, and fail fast.

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate

John highlighted the importance of learning what funding and networking opportunities exist and what supports are in place.

The Rural Innovation Centre at Acadia University was a productive business environment for Frostbyte, offering access to faculty and experts, a large talent pool of software developers and students, and business advice and information. The Nova Scotia Community College, through their Kingstec campus and the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) at the Annapolis Valley campus, was also a key partner for the startup. All of this support helped accelerate business growth for Frostbyte.

Associations and agencies, such as Refresh Annapolis Valley, Innovcorp, the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Nova Scotia Works partners, are critical in transforming an entrepreneurial idea into a successful business employing talent here in the Annapolis Valley. 

Focus on the pain

Making life easier for your customers is the key to business success. Figure out where your customers are experiencing challenges and find solutions to these issues. They will pay (well) to have their issues resolved.

To focus on the pain, you need to listen to the industry and understand the specific problems of potential clients. Learn how they are currently managing the challenges and get their feedback on your solutions.

When you fail – fail fast!

Bold ideas can lead to innovative solutions to lessen the pain of your customers. But not all bold ideas and solutions are valuable to your customer. Before investing heavily in product development and R&D, get feedback from industry and fail quickly. Get a prototype of your product or solution out quickly for feedback, learning from the reactions and tweaking your model. Explore through trial and error, and pivot.

It is better to learn early on that your solution is not viable or applicable than to sink money in a solution that doesn’t fit your customers’ needs.

Watch the full interview: part 1 here, part 2 here.

Read more about John Frost and his business endeavours here.