By Dave Stewart, May 7, 2012 – The Guardian
Rivers Corbett is trying to bite into the P.E.I. market and taking part in an entrepreneurial town hall meeting in Charlottetown Monday was as good a place to start as any.
The serial entrepreneur and author is the man behind the Relish Gourmet Burger franchise. Corbett wants to set up a restaurant on P.E.I. but he’s having a hard time finding a local franchisee to partner with.
“We’re coming here . . . but you Islanders are elusive,” Corbett told The Guardian on Monday at Startup Canada’s national tour stop in Charlottetown. “You’re hard to catch.”
Corbett chuckled as he said it as if to imply he likes the chase.
Relish Gourmet Burgers is in every Atlantic province except P.E.I.
“It’s (hard) finding a local business partner who wants to get in as a franchise.”
Corbett said he’s at the point now where the decision has to be made whether to come in as a corporate store or wait until that local franchisee steps up.
“My gut tells me I need a local partner. It’s better to have someone who is from the community because they have a connection.”
Startup Canada is a gathering of local startups and enterprise support organizations to discuss, celebrate and inspire entrepreneurship across the province. Monday was the second stop on the national tour, which began in March in Nova Scotia. By September, the tour will engage 25,000 Canadians and 250 partner organizations to identify actionable proposals and priorities for advancing entrepreneurship in Canada.
“It’s the signature of a new spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation in Canada,” said Rory Francis, executive director of P.E.I. BioAlliance and chair of the Startup Canada P.E.I. initiative. “That spirit is also at the core of Prince Edward Island’s bioscience cluster’s momentum and growth.”
The atmosphere Monday was noticeably more jazzed than most conferences of a similar nature. The tour stop began with a flash mob in front of the Atlantic Technology Centre (to the song Let’s Get Started), everyone was in bright red ‘Startup Canada’ T-shirts, colourful balloons were everywhere and the attitude was one of serious and positive energy.
Duncan Shaw, a local entrepreneur and co-owner of the Summerside Storm basketball franchise, was hoping the tour stop helped convince young startups that it’s a fun way to make a living and a career.
Shaw said he’d like to see more experienced entrepreneurs reach out as mentors.
“I’d like to see some more time put into mentoring or investing or just even helping with contacts for the younger folks who are trying to get started,” Shaw said. “That can have a huge impact (because) that was a big challenge for me, not so much the money but the contacts – who do you call for this, who do you call for that? How do you get something done? I’d like to see that happen.”