Volition Advisors | Winner of the 2018 Entrepreneur Support Award – British Columbia
“We need to break down the geographical and industry silos that currently confine our startup communities.”
Volition is an startup events and advising firm based out of Vancouver, BC. Sharing values of collaboration as an essential part of the startup journey, Volition provides coaching and advising services to help entrepreneurs with their investor and sales pitch, presentations, grant applications, marketing strategy and more; all the while collaborating to grow the entrepreneurship community.
Since 2016, the Volition team has hosted monthly Pitch Nights for startups and entrepreneurs to gain practical experience and valuable feedback on their ideas.
They have held thirty-four pitch nights in Vancouver and Toronto, including six Women’s Pitch Nights, elevating more than 200 companies and convening thousands of entrepreneurs and ecosystem partners.
Beginning to scale the Volution network across Canada, Volition is expanding to Calgary, while growing their Vancouver offerings via Hackathons, Sales Simulators, and digital education and training.
With its community-building and collaborative approach, Volition continues to bridge gaps between communities, fosters knowledge exchange that capitalizes on diversity, and has been an entrant and leader in the West Coast startup community.
Startup News had the opportunity to sit down with Melanie Ewan, Managing Partner, to learn more.
SN: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
ME: I wasn’t officially introduced to entrepreneurship until 2015. I was just coming off of a 10-year career in the federal government when I met Paul while writing for one of his companies. I was actively searching for a new adventure and was eager to learn about the wonderful world of entrepreneurship. I immediately fell in love with the vibrant energy and pace of the entrepreneur community – and the rest is history.
SN: What is the biggest lesson you have learned to date?
ME: Our biggest lesson has been the importance of open communication when building your company. The startup journey is unpredictable, inconsistent, and requires a high level of commitment, patience, and engagement. It requires a high degree of adaptability and resiliency and doesn’t stop just because you’re having a difficult day (or week, or even month). This is why it’s so important to trust and respect your team members, and to create a safe space for open communication. Life happens, and the startup grind is real – sometimes a team member needs a break or needs someone to tell them to take a break (more often the latter!). Be kind and listen to your teammates – they are the ones who will have your back and support you when things get really tough.
SN: What advice do you have to those starting up today?
ME: Go for it. But also – assess your support network, know what your sustenance number is and your non-negotiables in work and life. Create a plan ahead of time for when things get tough. Who can you lean on? Do you have any advisors or mentors? What are some activities or habits that will help you get back on track? Lastly – ask for help and advice. Fellow entrepreneurs have great insights, tactics, tools, and networks that you can tap into – and they love to share their stories! Learn from everyone around you and add them all on LinkedIn!
SN: What is the one thing you think we need to do as a nation, today, to position Canada as a global innovation and entrepreneurial leader?
ME: We need to break down the geographical and industry silos that currently confine our startup communities. There are entrepreneurs and startups everywhere, and you no longer have to live in an urban centre to launch a company. There needs to be more emphasis on connecting entrepreneurs from all over this country – learning from each other, growing together, supporting one another, sharing talent, etc.
SN: What is your message to the world?
ME: The time is now to create opportunities for conscious collision and true collaboration across our carefully constructed social, geographic and industry silos.
SN: How have you benefited from being a recipient of the Startup Canada Awards so far?
ME: Being a recipient of the Startup Canada Award for Entrepreneur Support has bolstered our brand trust and opened up doors to new connections across Canada. We received tremendous support and celebration from our community in Vancouver and have stayed in touch with a number of our award winner peers. It has also allowed us to work with Startup Canada on partnership opportunities.