If elephants could jump, they would jump up and down with excitement of this marvelous Alberta business.
Jumping Elephant came about after a long and successful career with large agencies in the digital space. Sarah Kirkpatrick, founder and owner of the business finally decided to become her own boss and help small and medium size businesses market themselves online through the power of social media.
The genesis of the idea, however, happened long before that. With entrepreneurial blood running through her veins, inherited from her Mom who was also an entrepreneur. Origins of the idea began when Sarah was in school. She started helping family members and friends market their own businesses. This raw talent caught the eyes of some big digital agencies, who ended up hiring her full time. Thus, launching her successful digital and social media marketing career.
Today, Sarah runs a full-fledged and successful boutique digital and social media marketing agency with a cohesive team of sub-contractors doing many different tasks, such as blogging, social media content creation, web design, and digital marketing, just to name a few. She also works directly with small and medium sized businesses valued between $1.5 - $7 million in the capacity of a Fractional CMO.
Simply put, a Fractional CMO is having a ‘fractional’ marketing executive to help companies increase their return on marketing spend through digital marketing strategy, team development, implementation management, customer acquisition, and company growth. The business gets executive experience without the full-time cost.
This third pillar of their market offering was recently developed in response to a dire need in the small to medium size business world for specialized expert digital marketing services that go above and beyond the traditional social media support services, but without the full time expenses.
In terms of what challenges that could face startups and budding entrepreneurs in the online world, Sarah deftly advises: “get your email list started from day one, get some funnels in place, start collecting those emails, even if you're not using them now, you will want to use them in the future.” Sound advice indeed.
Jumping Elephant specializes in organic digital marketing. This includes, building digital marketing strategies for clients and building social media and blogging campaigns tailor made for their businesses. All that in addition to their excellent online courses on digital marketing, which can be registered for through their website.
The unique niche that Jumping Elephant has chosen, coupled with Sarah’s all-encompassing formal education and practical experience, in addition to the absence of costly overheads, all contribute to their competitive advantages in their marketplace.
Sarah’s dream five years down the road is to settle down in Victoria, BC by the ocean, while remotely running Jumping Elephant, which hopefully would become its own entity as an efficient engine running smoothly by a reliable and skilled team.
One final thought from Sarah is her recommendation to small business owners to take advantage of her free online course on how to optimize their social media channels.
Her last sage advice is:
“It doesn't take very long to polish your presence online and make it look that much stronger and more reputable for your audience, and it will make a measurable difference.”
As the real estate market in Alberta started rebounding from COVID-19, some proactive agencies are already ahead of the game.
Bridge Realty Group a proactive real estate business in Edmonton was incorporated by Travis Bannert, in 2019, after a long and successful career in sales and in real estate specifically within the last five years.
Travis declares “I really enjoyed the process of helping people out with selling and buying home.” Which was the genesis of his real estate career, in addition to having an entrepreneurial spirit and inclination to be his own boss.
Travis goes above and beyond the call of duty when dealing with people and potential customers. In some cases where the person might be facing financial hardship or have bad credit and does not know what to do or may have received some bad advice and was facing bankruptcy or foreclosure, Travis would step in and helps them with good advice or directs them to a good mortgage broker or a lawyer who help them get their financial affairs in order and save them from financial ruin sometimes.
He does that without asking for anything in return, regardless of whether they will eventually enlist his services or not. In many cases, when people do get out of trouble, due to his help, they appreciate his selfless help and end up buying a house from him. That is how good deeds pay you back in buckets.
This kind of great customer service has led to his real estate agency to grow by almost 40% every year. So much in fact, that even during the pandemic downturn, business is growing. In fact he is currently interviewing people to hire in his agency. Hoping to have an additional two full time positions by the middle of 2021.
His biggest challenge is “trying to make sure that we're not wasting time on tasks that don't help the client and ourselves as well.” Travis puts it succinctly.
Cleverly, instead of cutting costs like most realters did, Travis invested more in marketing his business, which helps keep him on top of people’s minds, so when life returns to normal after COVID-19, whatever that normal might be, people will remember him mostly and choose him for their next house. True enough, his plan is now paying big dividends. That is the winners’ way.
Some time ago a survey was conducted asking people their opinions on how their experience was when working with realtors. The number one complaint of people with realtors in Canada was that they didn't get Back to them in time. People valued most a prompt response from realtors they worked with. This survey had a big impact on Travis. He vowed never to do that when he became a realtor. True enough, he honoured his vow and has always been honest and gave people the right advice. This is what put him ahead of the curve and gave him his greatest competitive advantage.
Travis’s sage advice to other entrepreneurs is: “If you are starting a new business, it will be your #1-time consumer. You need to be available seven days a week otherwise you need to figure out an alternative. Maybe get a partner that can take on some of the load.”
Success is sweet, and this Alberta business story, without a doubt, is very sweet.
Originating from a sheer coincidence of using a cigar humidor to store brown sugar, a star was born. A star business that is, was born in 2018.
SugarBaby Saver started with a chance spot at the Millarville Farmers’ Market and branched out to other farmers’ markets including the St. Albert Farmers’ Market which is the largest outdoor farmers' market in Western Canada, as well as selling their unique quality glass jars with humidor lids through Amazon and their own online store. You can also find their products in some boutique stores around Alberta cities.
This small, but vibrant, Calgary based business started producing their proprietary designed multipurpose SugarBaby Savers to enable people to preserve their food from waste. With vintage 1950s look and feel, they not only developed convenient useful products, they even designed them to match most kitchen décors, with white and black lids. All while being environmentally conscientious, as their jars are made from recycled glass.
Their customers loved the jars so much they were ingenious, by using the jar for all sorts of other things. Thus, giving SugarBaby viable new ideas of marketing it for marshmallows, dried fruits, cigars, soft pet treats, baked goods, and anything that needs that little bit of moisture. The jars are convenient to use, put in a cupboard and you forget about it for four months, then when you want to use it again It is still going to be soft and usable. Its ingenuity is in its simplicity.
With the reopening of Alberta is gearing up slowly and the St. Albert Farmers’ Market opening, SugarBaby Products is launching their newest product, a mini humidor, the “humi pocket.” Which came about in response to customers’ need for a smaller version of the SugarBaby jar and fits any wide mouth mason jar.
Jennifer Pedersen, founder and owner of SugarBaby Products, would tell you: “in business, you have to be able to trust yourself with your decisions, and if you fail, well then you have learned a valuable lesson.”
Their excellent customer service is what distinguishes them, in addition to their unique niche products.
Jennifer described it best by saying: “I think our number one competitive advantage is the fact that customer service is so important in our company. We strive to excel at earning and keeping our customers. I care how I make money, so I want to make sure that my customer has the best experience. I would not sell my products if they didn’t work.”
As for the quality of their products, Jennifer explains “I'm proud to say we've never ever once had any customer come back and say, I tried that, and it didn't work. That stands to show that our products actually do work.”
In terms of future vision, Jennifer explains that five years from now, they would like to be transitioned completely from retail to wholesale.
Her sage advice to other small Alberta businesses:
“believe in what you do, If you don't like what you're doing, you are not going to get far. You need to know who you are, what you offer and how you create value to your customers and don't be afraid to fail because it is the trying that matters.”
Going on a virtual tour of Canada’s largest race simulation venue is very impressive in itself let alone when you learn the inspiring story behind this “fast and furious” business that is rich in car culture.
The beautiful lobby is adorned with lots of car memorabilia, and their 3,000sq/ft venue is home to 12 mixed-reality, full-motion cockpits. Whether you prefer Formula, GT3, Touring, or Karts, TracksVR can put you on one of their 50+ world famous tracks in the car of your choice.
In the main venue, there is a spacious lounge where corporations can hold one of a kind, unique, and ever-lasting experiences of team building exercises or planning sessions or board retreats.
TracksVR Virtual Racing Inc. opened its doors in 2018, in Calgary, Alberta, by Howard Trawick, the visionary founder and his wife (co-partner), out of passion for car racing and virtual reality. His deeply ingrained love of car racing started while growing up in Alberta at an era when there were many more car racing activities and events. He was hooked ever since and naturally progressed through a 25-year career in the car industry.
With a dedicated team of tech savvy, VR loving, and car racing enthusiasts, their vision encompasses mashing VR and racing together into a seamless offering for their customers, by fully immersing them into the driver's seat of a racecar with full motion unique experience. An idea that was born out of a trip to the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in 2015.
Explained best by Howard: “I wanted to create a sim racing venue that can bring the racetrack to people, to provide them with the actual feeling of being a racecar driver and feel like an athlete, while we build a community at the same time.”
Technology is one of the most powerful competitive advantages they enjoy. With the addition of VR, they’ve got a lot of wizardry going on in the background to run all this and they can start all of the machines at the same time, and everyone can race on the same track simultaneously. Thus, adding that additional level of immersion for all race drivers. With the VR headsets, everywhere you look, the generated world is there, and especially in racing, that is paramount. With a VR headset, you can turn your head anywhere and you are still fully immersed in the experience. This unique technology enables them to do streaming and eSports.
Excellent customer service is a major factor in their competitive advantage quiver, as they not only say it, they actually live it and breath it, day in and day out.
Described best in Howard’s own words: “I know everybody says it, but you have to live it. You must be passionate about what you are selling. That comes through to your customers when you look after them, they feel it.”
With an abundance of ambitions, this innovative Alberta business has plenty of futuristic visions to wow us. Opening more branches around Alberta, branching out to other provinces, even possibilities of franchising, in addition to some amazing new and innovative ideas of diversification. But we will just keep those under wraps for now.
Howard’s sage advice to fellow Albertan small businesses: “in crisis lies opportunity, and when you need help, ask for help. That’s part of community building.”
As per his goodbye bidding to people when leaving:
“don't drive out there like you did in here.”
Although this melodious small Albertan business officially started in 2019, the foundations of the business have been laying down for the last 16 years, by Daniel Jackson, founder of and lead educator at “Revolution Music International”.
Daniel had the passion for music since he was six years old due to the influence of his father. He became a travelling music educator. It was during that time when he noticed that many of the music lovers, he was teaching, were missing some fundamental aspects of playing instruments. So, he felt compelled to impart this essential knowledge and ability to others. He started writing music instruction books, since most of the books available in the market were lacking in that area.
Some of his former students who excelled, demonstrated the potential to teach as well. But how would they know what or how to teach? He needed to come up with a strategy to help them to not only hone their own musical skills, but also their teaching skills and leadership abilities. Hence, his slogan “making musicians into leaders.”
With the help of God, some experienced business mentors, friends, and his wife, Daniel started developing a whole music school around this concept. Which proved to be the launching pad of his music business career for the last 16 years. That too was the inspiration behind the business’s mission “to help musicians and aspiring musicians to learn, get paid, and to grow.”
Revolution Music International teaches various aspects and instruments of music, to name a few: guitar, bass, piano, drums and voice lessons. Their focus is on four basic elements of musicianship which are emotional quality, music theory, practicality, and mathematics while combining it with leadership and character-building principles, because these are traits that need to intertwine with being a well-rounded musician.
What sets Revolution Music International apart from their competition?
They not only provide music students with excellent teachers, but also provide online videos to accompany the lessons. They have successfully created a hybrid service model that helps students learn in person, then augment their learning with an online video recording of their newly acquired skills, thus, bonding the two together and solidifying the learning experience.
Another distinct competitive advantage they enjoy over their competition is the combination of the leadership development and character building into music lessons so that students, especially children and teenagers, would be able to go out into the world and be effective in whatever they do, even if it had nothing to do with music. They want to see their students become more than just musicians but become well-rounded effective persons in their life.
Dan’s final words to fellow Albertan small businesses is: “Don't give up. Keep persevering. Make sure to take the training necessary to do anything you can do to keep improving yourself, achieving excellence, and keeping your costs low. If there's something that you cannot do, farm it out to others who can. But always, always try to manage yourself well.”