Despite the economic challenges we have seen since 2020, there has been a spike in startups, a recent report from the Census Bureau found. The number of startups in 2020 surpassed 2019 numbers by 24.3% with 4.4 million new businesses created in 2020 in the U.S. alone.
While some of us were working on our sourdough starter, it seems that others were digging in on their big idea.
One such entrepreneur is Anastasia Kiku, COO and co-founder of Reusables, a packaging-as-a-service company launched in 2020. Looking around and seeing a city that had become desensitized to its single-use plastic addiction, Kiku and her business partner set out to flip the script on single-use plastic.
But where does one start?
This is the question facing many innovators when they are ready to take the leap on their business idea. For Kiku, the answer came knocking through League of Innovators, a long-time partner of SAP and leading social entrepreneurship accelerator program focused on providing game-changing resources and experiences for young people, ultimately helping to amplify their impact on their entrepreneurship journeys.
“What no one tells you is that, first, it can be really lonely. And second, it will be hard to show up each day and keep going,” says Kiku.
This is where the network of support and mentorship became invaluable to fuel momentum and get their idea off the ground, as the experienced professionals participating in the program “know that the road to entrepreneurship is not perfect, so even though they are advisors, mentees can be candid and feel that their mentors have their best interests in mind.”
At SAP, employees invest their time in mentoring early ventures like Reusables to help scale their businesses. Externally, this investment also takes place through partnerships with organizations such as Templeton Stem, Junior Achievement BC & Central Ontario, and League of Innovators.
We sat down with Kiku to learn more about her League of Innovators mentorship experience. Hear from Kiku in this interview for a deep-dive on what it takes to get your idea off the ground and what no one tells you about launching your startup.
Thinking outside the box often means thinking differently from within your organization.
SAP has its very own startup accelerator program, SAP.iO, which has helped over 450 external startups and internal ventures accelerate their growth while enabling thousands of SAP customers to access innovation. As part of this program, SAP Labs Canada recently launched True North Ventures Startup School, which leads employees through the basics of entrepreneurship from pitch to product.
Whether you are launching your startup solo or leveraging entrepreneurial support internally, SAP knows when we help cultivate fresh ideas, innovators are empowered to take the leap.
Cindy Fagen is managing director of SAP Labs Canada.