Introducing Orchard. The ultimate co-working space for entrepreneurs.

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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 dissatisfied customers.

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.

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 FIs 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.

Last week, my colleague Iain Montgomery shared the first of our concepts called Launchpad. In case you missed it, you can find the details here: Launchpad Concept

The big problem #2 …. Legitimacy

Entrepreneurs who are just starting out are attempting to credentialize themselves, but often don’t know if what they are doing is correct or even legal.

SMEs need to develop a network to build their reputation, market their business, and gain advice on how to properly run a business.

Introducing …. Orchard.

Orchard is the ultimate co-working space. In big cities around the world, the likes of WeWork have filled a gap in the market for startups, small businesses and even some larger enterprises to locate together resulting in flexible office space and better networking opportunities. Whether you’re just starting up and need some advice on how to file a trademark, looking to test a new idea with potential customers or seeking networking opportunities, WeWork have done an impressive job.

That said, WeWork might be huge in New York City and growing in Toronto and Vancouver, but where does that leave you if you’re in Moncton, Regina or even Hamilton?

 
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There are more bank branches in Canada now than there were 20 years ago yet digital channels have never been so popular, especially for retail customers. We propose that Canada’s banks start to repurpose some of that retail footprint for small business customers. Orchard is just that, co-working, networking, accessing advice and actually building a relationship with their bank in a place you actually want to spend time.

Banks have actually started doing this, we were inspired by the likes of ATB Financials Entrepreneur Centers, Studio B by Clydesdale Bank and RBC taking space at WeWork.

 
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To make Orchard real we learned a few important things. You need to do it on the entrepreneur’s terms (no shutting the doors at 5pm, no cycling advisors in and out as their careers ebb and flow and certainly no ugly cubicles. You need to make this place as welcoming and comforting as the best coffee shop with advice and networks that are more than a tagline in an ad campaign.

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, FI or even a real estate company, 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 Canadian business owners to build a network, access expertise and build a better relationship with their bank.

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

 
Iain MontgomeryComment