Turning Our Idea Into a Startup

The summer of 2017 was a busy one. Kris and I were both managing the sales and marketing for the Cornwall Nationals, a minor professional hockey team in Eastern Ontario, and we were selling sponsorships to businesses around a town that had been burned by hockey teams in the past. Kris was also back and forth between Cornwall and Watertown, New York doing the same thing for their FHL team, the Wolves.

We kept running into a similar problem. Businesses were apprehensive to sponsor because they didn’t have a way to track their Return on Investment. One business owner in particular had told us she used to sponsor the local Junior A Hockey Club by putting a coupon in the back of their game day programs. Turns out, she never got any back and if she had she wouldn’t have known anything about the customers redeeming them.

That’s when we had our lightbulb moment. We were mainly selling rink boards and scoreboard ads but neither of those (or anything else we had) could allow a business to know how well their sponsorship faired. We thought “What if we created something that could allow businesses to track their ROI and gain those customer analytics?” We decided to create an app that works like a digital coupon book, giving fans discounts and deals from the business that sponsor their favourite teams. Thus, allowing businesses a viable way to track their spend and also gain important data all while helping teams increase their sponsorship sales.

It was around this time last year that the idea of FanSaves hazily came to life during a rainy summer that forced us indoors. While I had a marketing business of my own and Kris had a degree in Business Administration, neither of us were super savvy when it came to app development but we forged ahead anyway. We decided to bring this thing to life and started meeting with people and resources to get the ball rolling.

We both had a multitude of other work going on but together we managed to get FanSaves off the ground. We presented to the Cornwall Innovation Centre (a local incubator for startups) in August and got the yellow light (good idea but needs some work, come back and try again later). We were discouraged at first but we refined our pitch, went back in October and got green-lit. We could have given up in August but we didn’t. We got stronger.

By February we were able to launch the MVP version of our app (the hardship of app development is real) and since then we have piloted in two markets, pitched at numerous events, had incredible meetings with even more incredible mentors and advisors and fast and furiously showcased FanSaves to the world.

It’s been a whirlwind year that has both flown by and taken forever. There were many times when we could have thrown in the towel or not allowed FanSaves to become anything more than an idea but we didn’t ever consider that an option. We took our idea and turned it into a startup and learned the ropes along the way, never taking no for a (permanent) answer. We have had our share of adversity, ups, downs and roller coaster rides but every second has been worth it knowing that we took the next steps and turned out idea into a real-life startup!

3 thoughts on “Turning Our Idea Into a Startup

  1. Hi,
    Great article and kudos on not giving up!

    I was just curious as to what the Cornwall Innovation Center required to get the ball rolling on your app?

    Did pay them a sum of money, or equity into your company?

    Any info you can give me would be much appreciated!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cristen,

      Thanks so much for the message!

      The Cornwall Innovation Centre requires no money or equity to be part of it once you are chosen.

      They only select companies that they believe can reach $1 million in revenue in the first three years and then they provide resources and work space, free of charge, to help businesses succeed.

      We were the ones who still had to get the ball rolling on our app, as they don’t provide direct services like development, but the mentorship provided by Launch Lab has been incredible and the referrals we have received to help us grow have been invaluable.

      The best part of the being part of the CIC is that it has given us access to a bigger ecosystem of contacts and resources, all of which have helped accelerate our growth. The Executive Director, Kelly Bergeron, is always available to help any way she can as well, which makes all the difference.

      Thanks again for your questions, let me know if you have any more!


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