November 30th has marked the end of the University of Windsor EPICentre’s EPIC Nimble Program. Funded by FedDev Ontario, the EPIC Nimble Program was launched in partnership with WEtech Alliance and WindsorEssex Small Business Centre and sponsored by the Lucas Imagine Fund to support existing traditional small businesses currently facing challenges due to the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We strongly believe that small businesses are the backbone of our community,” said Wen Teoh, EPICentre Director “So, with the help of our community partners, EPICentre was able to offer guidance for local entrepreneurs to flourish amid the pandemic”
Throughout the 7-month program, seven small businesses gained the skills, knowledge, and tools necessary to create new revenue streams or to pivot to a new business model in order to achieve sustainability and stay competitive in the fast-changing marketplace.
“On one side of us, we are seeing so many fresh ideas born from the minds of the people that are starting their entrepreneurial journeys amid this pandemic; on the other side we are surrounded by small businesses that are struggling to make the “old way” of doing things work in these dynamic times,” said Paul Brereton, EPIC Program Lead. “We are uniquely positioned to join those concepts and bring fresh approaches to these companies, helping them find ways to keep growing long past the end of this crisis. The EPIC Nimble Program resulted in not just hope, but excitement from these business owners. They aren’t just looking for a way out… they are looking for a way forward!”
Valued at over $6,000 in cash and services, the EPIC Nimble Program cohort received access to the WindsorEssex Small Business Centre’s programs and services, access to WEtech Alliance’s client perks on eligible discounts and credits on various cloud platforms and software’s and much more.
“[EPIC Nimble] opened up a whole new networking opportunity that I didn’t know existed,” said Sue Brunet, owner of Ergonow Inc. “The program increased my awareness of the services we have available for small business owners locally. I have had the opportunity to benefit from receiving services performed by a University of Windsor student and the talent and performance to date has been excellent.
The members of the EPIC Nimble cohort ranged from seven diverse industries yet had their own, unique experiences in learning how to pivot and grow in this fast-paced economic climate.
“[The program] has helped prepare us for the next generation of customers and given us a way to engage with others that we aren’t currently reaching. Going forward we will be able to build our brand up significantly thanks to the work done within this program” said Chris Courey, owner of Dan’s Nautical Shop.
Not only did the program serve our small business community, but also provided opportunities for students to learn more about the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Spencer Briguglio, University of Windsor Computer Science student, co-lead of the University of Windsor Developers Student Club, and Vice-President of Research and Development for Enactus Windsor had the chance to work with one of our EPIC Nimble members, Sue Brunet.
“As a past entrepreneur, the skills I learned with respect to time management, project development, and collaboration with stakeholders are something that I feel will benefit me in all of my future endeavors” said Spencer. “Whether you’re already established in a large corporation or just starting to get into the workforce in a small business, everyone should try to get some sort of entrepreneurial experience. The skills you learn and developed will make you a stronger individual, employee, and leader across the board. I strongly recommend experiences like the EPIC Nimble Program for everyone!”
The EPIC Nimble Program aimed to equip all members with tools, resources, and know-how to move forward among any changes that may arise amid the covid-19 pandemic and beyond.
“[The program] has given me confidence, support, and knowledge in growing my business the way that I am,” said Lora Colautti, owner of Yoga with Lora. “One of the other biggest things is that I felt incredibly supported throughout the entire experience. It was like I had, and still have, a team of others rooting for the success of my business”.