District Ventures is a unique ecosystem which is home to professionals beyond just the marketing space. Our accelerator program has some of the country’s greatest minds supporting, mentoring and assisting our entrepreneurs: which is where Mike McNeil comes in. Having been part of the founding team that helped jumpstart our accelerator, Mike is no stranger to the needs of our entrepreneurs – he even worked for one from 2017 – 2019.
We sat down with Mike in his new capacity as Vice President of Accelerator and Kitchen Programs to learn more about him, his highly anticipated return and ask some questions.
Q: What is your history with District Ventures?
A: I started at District Ventures in 2015 when it was just starting up. A former colleague recommended me for a role. At the time, I was leaving politics, and I did not have any experience in consumer goods. Nevertheless, Arlene took a chance on me and I moved across the country in just a few days to help launch the accelerator.
At DVA, I discovered my passion for business. After a couple of years getting DVA up and running, I joined one of the accelerator companies – Purple Frog. The company was doing well until some regulatory changes triggered a massive product recall, which almost put us under. I spent nearly two years working with the founders to stabilize the company and raise capital.
Once Purple Frog was in a good position, I joined the Alberta Small Brewers Association as Executive Director representing Alberta’s craft beer sector. I loved that role and the opportunity to improve the value of the organization for our members.
While away from DVA, I learned so much. And since my return, I have worked to bring that knowledge back to the program and make significant changes to help entrepreneurs during this challenging time. I am excited to launch those changes soon.
Q: What is the best thing about working with CPG and/or entrepreneurs?
A: A successful business changes everyone’s lives – the founders, the employees, the investors, etc. The potential for that success excites me, and it is what I enjoy the most about working with entrepreneurs. Recently, I met with one of our past cohort companies. They are growing at a fantastic rate and employing hundreds of Canadians – even during a global pandemic. It reminded me that entrepreneurs are the answer to Canada’s economy. They create wealth, jobs, and commercialize innovation. Now is the time to double down on supporting them.
Q: How can our followers get involved or be a part of DVA or the success of our entrepreneurs?
A: Order a Bundle Box and try their products. If you like one, leave a review on their website. The next time you’re at the store, try to locate their product. If you can’t find it, suggest to the manager that they list the brand. Alternatively, if you were in a leadership position at a company that serves entrepreneurs, send your remote employees a Bundle Box. They will appreciate the gesture, and everyone will benefit from supporting Canadian entrepreneurs during this challenging time.
Q: If you’re not in the office, where would we find you?
A: My wife and I had our first child during the pandemic, so we are usually looking after him. But now that he is sleeping through the night, I have more time for hobbies, including playing the guitar and trying to stay active. On the weekends, I usually challenge Shawn – Venture’s IT manager – to a Fitbit step challenge. He always wins. But Shawn, if you are reading this, your reign as champion will soon come to an end!
Are you an entrepreneur in the food & beverage or health & wellness space who would like to learn more about the programs we offer at District Venture? Click here to learn more.