Nevin Buconjic wants to create opportunities for entrepreneurs to thrive in Sault Ste Marie

Nevin Buconjic wants to create opportunities for entrepreneurs to thrive in Sault Ste Marie

Middle: Nevin Buconjic, Startup Sault Ste. Marie’s Community Leader with fellow entrepreneurs.

Startup Sault Ste. Marie, one of the newest additions to the Startup Canada Communities program, will be featured on November 26th at the 2014 Startup Canada Day on the Hill with the support of CANARIE.

During Day on the Hill, Startup Sault Ste. Marie’s leader, Nevin Buconjic, will represent Sault Ste. Marie’s entrepreneurs in the Capital, meeting with Members of Parliament, Ministers, Senators and senior government officials. Nevin will also meet with his counterparts from other startup communities from across Canada and will present his progress over the last 12 months to conference delegates, showcasing the impact of entrepreneur-led economic development initiatives at the local level connected nationally through technology like StartupConnect.ca.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Nevin to hear about some of the early progress of Startup Sault Ste. Marie and what he hopes to achieve at Startup Canada Day on the Hill.

SC: Nevin, tell us about yourself and why are you passionate about building Startup Sault?

NB: My name is Nevin Buconjic, and I am the founder of Startup Sault Ste. Marie. I have been an entrepreneur for most of my life – since I was 10 years old, and I am passionate about helping others to pursue their dreams of building a business.

I followed my passion for business by earning a business degree in marketing and management, an MBA and later a computer science degree. I went on to start or co-found four tech-related companies, and learned a ton about launching and growing small businesses along the way.

I founded Startup Sault because although there are numerous resources in Sault Ste. Marie to help small business, I felt there was a disconnect within the small business community itself. I wanted to build a community where entrepreneurs could connect with each other, learn from each other, collaborate and share skill sets. I want to see our startups thrive, and encourage more entrepreneurs to step forward and take a chance on themselves and their ideas.

SC: What have been some of your highlights and your impact over the last 12 months in growing your Startup Community?

NB: Startup Sault had its first event in March 2014 and we were blown away by the interest. Since then we have held numerous Startup Drinks events, hosted a week of training by the Canadian Entrepreneurship Institute, launched a small business column on a local news website and are excited to hold our first Startup Book Club in early December. Overall I would say we have raised the profile of entrepreneurship and small business in our community. Our members enjoy the events we put on, and look forward to connecting with others on a regular basis.

SC: How has becoming involved in your startup community helped to benefit your own business? 

NB: As an author, business consultant and entrepreneur myself, I just love meeting other entrepreneurs who are passionate about their businesses. I have also enjoyed building our local team of entrepreneurs and volunteers – our core Startup Sault team is eight members strong, and I am proud of the work they have done to help make Startup Sault a success.

I think on a personal level, being involved in Startup Sault has helped to raise my own profile within the community, and helped build my personal brand as a small business authority. I have written two small business books in the last three years and plan on writing more in the future. I know that this experience will benefit me in that effort.

One of the greatest things about being involved in Startup Sault is meeting other entrepreneurs and finding talent in our community. I’ve met graphic designers, computer programmers, app developers and more – entrepreneurs that I intend to work with and partner with in the future.

If I’ve learned one thing as an entrepreneur, it is that you can’t do it all and sometimes it makes more sense to bring in people with stronger skills, and focus on your own strengths. To know that these skill sets exist in the community is exciting for my own future business ideas.

SC: What is the biggest value that you feel Startup Sault brings to the community?

NB: While the Startup Sault team has helped refer individuals to existing small business support organizations in the community, I think the biggest contribution we have made is to create the opportunities to come together on a regular basis. Through our networking and training opportunities, our members are able to learn from each other, share experiences and ask questions. Since most of our events are informal in nature, our members feel more at ease and comfortable meeting new people. Along the way we have met some successful entrepreneurs with amazing stories and experiences and we hope to create a forum where they can share lessons learned for the benefit of the entire community.

SC How has being involved with the Startup Canada Communities program helped your community? What have been the greatest benefits?

NB: I would say, first of all, that being part of the Startup Communities program has raised the profile for Sault Ste. Marie – both on the national level with Startup Canada and at the local level as well. While others locally have tried in the past to bring entrepreneurs together, I honestly think that our affiliation with Startup Canada has made the difference and has helped Startup Sault build momentum as a legitimate movement within the community. When we combine our local events with Startup Canada’s national presence, our members feel like they are part of something big.

SC: What is your vision for the future and impact Startup Communities and the Startup Canada in the long term 

 NB: My vision for Startup Sault is to help build and diversify our community and create opportunities for our businesses to thrive, and for our young people to stay or return. Sault Ste. Marie is a great place to grow up and raise a family, but if you ask the young people, I think you will hear them say there are limited job opportunities keeping them here.

SC: What do you hope to get out of 2014 Startup Canada Day on the Hill for your community and for Canada? 

NB: Personally, I am looking forward to meeting many of the other startup community leaders from across the country. Every one of us is at a different stage in building our startup community and we’ve got so much that we can learn from each other. I am hoping to forge strong connections with these community leaders and with the Startup Canada staff. I truly believe that this will benefit Startup Sault in the future and help us to bring more ideas and events to Sault Ste. Marie.

I also think for all of us to come together in one location and show how we are making a difference across the country, is very powerful. We (and all of our volunteers) are very dedicated and passionate about what we are doing. I think this will be impressed upon our federal politicians, and encourage them to support entrepreneurship and Startup Canada even further in the future.

Join us on November 26th in Ottawa for Startup Canada Day on the Hill.

Visit www.startupday.ca to register.

Rosanne Li
Rosanne Li
[email protected]

Rosanne is a project and data analysis expert who volunteers on Startup Canada’s Impact Measurement Team. Based in Hamilton, Ontario, Rosanne is passionate about research, analysis, policy and entrepreneurship.