Introducing Launchpad. Getting Canadian businesses off the ground.

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A few weeks ago, Market Gravity + Deloitte embarked on an open innovation initiative called D5. The aim of the work was to spend 5 weeks to uncover the biggest challenges faced by Canada's small businesses and create 5 ways that Canada's banks can solve for them.

We believe that small businesses are underserved by financial services and together we can find ways to better serve them for the long term benefit to Canada's economy. 98% of Canadian companies are SMEs with over half of them disliking their financial institution. That's 570,000 business owners. For clarity, we roughly considered anything below 100 employees and $5m annual turnover to be in the SME category.

Over 5 weeks, we spoke with 50 small businesses in person, surveyed 100 more in 12 industries across 8 provinces from coast to coast. We immersed ourselves in stories, struggles, ambitions and circumstances of every one of them.

We identified 3 standout persona types across scrappy business owners, savvy startup founders and rocket fueled entrepreneurs. From brunch spots, to social media agencies to health and fitness businesses. Five clear problems stood out and over the course of the next few weeks, we'll be sharing them alongside some of the concepts we created to help solve for them.

Our agenda is to share this work with each and every bank and financial institution in Canada, whether it's the big 5 or regional financial institutions serving their provinces. It's worth saying these ideas are works in progress, we welcome feedback and the next steps are to find ways of making them real for the benefit of SMEs in Canada.

The big problem #1 …. Starting Out

It can be complicated and confusing to start up a business in Canada from completing the business registration to learning what grants and funding could be available to them. SMEs thrive on momentum but for new entrepreneurs, it can be tough understanding where to start.

Introducing …. Launchpad.

Launchpad removes the hassle and headache from starting a business. By having all the necessary documentation and processes brought together in one place, it makes sure you never have to worry about missing an important business milestone again.

 
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The way we like to think about Launchpad is that getting up and running takes effort and enthusiasm away from the joy of doing something you love and the thrill of making money. Entrepreneurs created their business to serve a need, solve a problem, not fill out incorporation forms, uncover grants and go through complicated application processes.

We're inspired by the likes of Turbo Tax and Rocket Mortgage that have simplified complicated form filling and admin down to seamless processes. Launchpad breaks down the process into simple 'missions' and in effect, gamifying the process to make it feel manageable. Guided tutorials put learning into simple language, show progress and through an interface comparable to 'fun' experiences like browsing through an Instagram story.

 
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So what's in it for the bank? We feel this provides value to the business by actually giving them something before we get to what's in it for the bank with opening a business chequing account and applying for a loan.

But wait, if you actually help a small business owner do this and get going on what they love then that data collected is going to help your bank know about your customers, what they're doing, where they're doing it so you have the foundations to make intelligent decisions when it comes to lending, cash flow or just even providing a connection or some advice. One of the most damning thing we heard from businesses is that they often felt their bank didn't know them and couldn't explain their business.

Keep your eyes peeled for our customer vignettes where we'll let them tell you that in person!

So what next? Well if you're a bank, credit union, financial institution or even in government, we'd love to make this idea real. It's not perfect, we know that but customers we tested this with LOVED it. So let's make it happen so it's easier for Canadians to get their businesses off the ground.

Follow www.thed5project.com for more updates as we share interviews with our featured entrepreneurs and release more of our concepts in the coming weeks.

 
Iain MontgomeryComment