LEAP! 2015 – Jesse Willicome

LEAP! Participant Profile

Name: Jesse Willicome

Business: Hearth & Coat Hook Adventure Hostel

Description: My proposed business concept was to start a boutique adventure hostel in the Creston area to cater to an increasing market of active and adventure tourists visiting the Kootenay region.

Location: Creston BC

LEAP! Q&A

Q. Why did you join LEAP!?

I was interested in a tourism business idea that I had been toying with for a few years, but wasn’t entirely sure if it could fly in Creston just yet. I also wanted to learn some basic business planning skills for work I was already doing. The LEAP program was a perfect place to test out my idea and worked well with my working schedule.

Q. What was the benefit of attending LEAP?

The benefit of attending the LEAP program was being given the time, space, and support to develop my idea with other like-minded entrepreneurs in the Creston area. I also get the critical feedback I needed to determine my businesses viability, further suggestions and insights that helped me flesh out my business concept, and a greater understanding of the tourism business industry.

Q. What awards and/or grants did you receive at the Barnraiser? And how did you spend your earnings?

After pitching my business concept I was awarded $500.00 grant from RDCK Area B after the LEAP Barnraiser. As this amount was not enough to launch my business, I instead used it for further market research, primarily to visit hostels while travelling to learn about their successes, challenges, and unique selling features.

Q. How did working with other LEAP! participants affect you as an entrepreneur and impact your business start-up? 

I think it’s crucial to get outside your comfort zone and the reassuring, echo chamber of your friends and family. Thanks to the critical feedback of other participants I was able to strengthen my business idea. It was alos great to have the support and understanding of other participants at time as we often struggled with the same issues and it helped my self-esteem knowing I was not the only facing these challenges.

Q. Do you have any advice for someone starting out? 

Caution: Don’t get too attached to your idea. It will grow and change for the better, but only if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and be open to critical feedback.

Encouragement: You never know how these skills and experiences will affect your future. I did not launch my hostel business after LEAP, but it has opened all sorts of new doors for me. I’m now working as a consultant on a tourism development project for the Creston Area that I feel will make the area a great place for tourism business ventures in the future. I would never have had the confidence to do this work if it hadn’t been for this experience.

Q. What can the community do to support your business now?

My ask would be that the community recognize the great potential that tourism offers our valley and support it’s development. I also encourage other ambitious entrepreneurs interested in tourism business ideas to seize the opportunity of LEAP to explore these and hopefully implement them.