Just like that, 12 weeks have passed since entering the LeapIN Business Accelerator at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. I entered the accelerator with Wheel Easy in May, and now leave with an expanded mind, many new ideas, and a supercharged network of entrepreneurs, industry contacts, leads, mentors, and supporters.
Where we started
The summer time frame for the accelerator could not have been better for Wheel Easy, coming off our first full tire swap season (we commenced operations in November of Fall 2021, midway through the busy period) and into slower times. We didn’t reach our sales stretch goal, but definitely did enough to confirm my feelings that we were on to something.
I considered this a chance to step back, take stock of what worked and what needed to be refined, and learn from some new perspectives. My goals coming into this program:
Continue to develop our marketplace concept with a custom platform.
Structure marketing strategy and execute (both organic and paid).
Build a network of passion-fuelled entrepreneurs and industry veterans.
Personally understand ways that my experience can add value to others, and try to connect different parts of my network together.
It was also great timing in the sense that I received additional insight into the parts of the business I was approaching that I didn’t have experience with - adding internal and external people to my team, navigating new potential revenue streams and models, applying for grants and competitions, and developing a robust marketing plan.
As we moved though
There were challenges in adding this program to what I was already trying to do. The month of May still saw many tire swap customers and this meant busy weekends and evenings besides the work we were assigned. But I saw utility in what we were doing - I reaffirmed the value proposition I knew Wheel Easy was offering, and started to consider the VP to the other side of the marketplace - the service provider partners. Interviewing some of these guys led me down specific paths on how I worked with my development team to give them what they needed.
Our guest speaker list reads like a who’s who of entrepreneurship in London - Brian Malott, Paula Morand, Paula Parlette, Swaraj Paul, Mina Behrooz, Liz Gray, Mike Weinberger, Taylor Carson, Julie Forrester, Mariam Waliji, Pragya Singh, Dave Bowman, Tuan Lam, Luca Monti, Marley Harris, and Stephanie Hernandez. Thank you everyone who took the time to help our group learn more about the finer details of what entrepreneurship really means.
With regards to my list of goals, I was able to gain a lot of insight into the marketing strategy that I’ll deploy in Fall 2022. Ultimately, a “show, don’t tell” approach with a distinct acknowledgement of the emotions that customers are experiencing throughout the customer journey will be important, and is something our value proposition can connect people to; avoiding the widely recognized pain associated with a trip to the auto shop. Helping to simplify the experience, in both convenience and the interaction with your service provider, is something that many people connect to.
I’d be remiss to not mention my other extra-curricular adventures throughout Summer 2022!
On June 16, 2022, my wife Sarah and I welcomed our second child, Dexter Tye Ho, happy and healthy and just in time! Dexter reminds me every day that everything we’re working towards is for a much greater good than just myself.
That was followed shortly by my graduation from the HBA program at Ivey Business School on June 21, 2022. Walking across the stage at Alumni Hall and then taking the Ivey Pledge were two great moments to cap off an unbelievable week (and four years!)
Where we are now
We wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for the LeapIN program. As I gear up for Fall 2022, I am set with a defined marketing approach, I have made connections that I know will be valuable for life, and some of my ideas have really come to life!
Our marketplace platform is set to launch in September 2022, giving customers a user-focused online booking experience, while also demonstrating the value of being on the Wheel Easy platform to service providers. We have partners set to work together to give customers as many mobile automotive services as possible - dent repair, locksmith services, and detailing.
We’re also happy to be working with Wilma Technologies as a mobile automotive service for their drivers. Wilma is a Women-Driving-Women ride hailing membership service dedicated to creating a safe space for women to travel and work within the gig economy. They are at the forefront of solutions to provide an alternative, hassle-free ride hailing service and job opportunities that work for and empower women. Through a collaboration, Wheel Easy will provide automotive expertise and service as a benefit to Wilma’s drivers.
We are also working on many other exciting projects, so stay tuned!
Overall, being in LeapIN was a fantastic part of my journey so far, and I got to work towards more of my list than I honestly thought there was even time for in this fairly short program. I have definitely expanded my network and have contacts that I couldn't have dreamed of before LeapIN, and I am so excited to launch our MVP platform and continue the process of iteration with our customers.
Further to that, I did feel like I was able to add some value to my community, trying to help out with insights where I could, and connecting people who I thought might be able to help one another. I won’t forget the time spent with our Leap mentors Dave Oullette and Nick Hlymbicky, or many of our Leapers - RK, Derek, Angie, and all you others.
Can’t wait to see you at the top!