New businesses finds success amidst pandemic

Despite economic recession, new entrepreneurship is on the rise in B.C.

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By Alaina Saint Amour

Despite the economic recession caused by the pandemic, more British Columbians are turning to entrepreneurship.

According to a Royal Bank of Canada national survey, 112,000 Canadian small businesses closed between January and May 2020, and by January 2021 the Canadian Federation of Independent Business reported one in six business owners were considering permanently closing. However, recently there has been a surge in entrepreneurship in British Columbia.

Andrea Welling, the regional director for Futurpreneur B.C., a not-for-profit organization that offers entrepreneurs capital and mentorship, said it’s seen a 25 per cent increase in applications and 15 per cent increase in grants and loans given to start-ups over the past fiscal year.

“[Entrepreneurs] have got a little bit of extra time to finally kind of decide to execute that business that they’ve been thinking about, and that’s what they’re doing,” Welling said.

New delivery services helps keep businesses afloat

In March 2020, when the first wave of pandemic restrictions occurred, Ryan Parfitt of Luppolo Brewing in East Vancouver co-founded BeerVan alongside Chris Charron of Slow Hand Beer Company. BeerVan is a mobile craft beer service that makes food and beverage deliveries across Vancouver, offering a safe way of getting a cold one.

“We were sure that we didn’t want to start using one of those services like DoorDash and SkipTheDishes. They just take such a large percentage of sales, don’t provide a great service, and they don’t treat their employees very well,” Parfitt said.

BeerVan delivers daily throughout Metro Vancouver and processes as many as 50-60 orders a day. Parfitt said the supportive local community and collaborating with other breweries has been key in BeerVan gaining success.

“The biggest element of our success was working together. I think if I tried to do this on my own it never would have worked [out] and it never would have been anywhere near as successful,” Parfitt said.

Launching your own business might be a great option for graduating students

Deland Jessop, a Langara College instructor in the school of management, encourages those who wish to become entrepreneurs to be prepared.

“I’m hoping a lot more students are realizing, [they need to] be responsible for my own success,” Jessop said. “Maybe launch[ing] a business might be the best way to go. It might hurt, but it might make them stronger.”

When the pandemic hit and the restrictions on restaurants were implemented, Parfitt said it was difficult being in the hospitality industry. BeerVan has been a way to help keep Luppolo alive and thriving, especially during the months it was closed.

“BeerVan’s probably been the driving factor for our success, or rather, [Luppolo Brewing] not going out of business. So it’s been really awesome,” Parfitt said.

Watch the video below to hear Ryan Parfitt share his thoughts about BeerVan :

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