With our accelerator program recruiting for the next cohort, we sat down to chat with Program Manager, Kalyan Chinnamanthur. Working closely with the entrepreneurs in the accelerator, Kaylan knows what it takes to scale a business and has helped transform the program.
We ask Kaylan about how the program has evolved to support entrepreneurs and what it offers prospective members of Cohort XI.
Q: What is your history with District Ventures?
I moved to Calgary as an immigrant in 2019 after spending almost 14 years in the Middle East in various CPG industry roles. That experience helped me gain a holistic understanding of running CPG brands – which I’m happy to share with the brands in the accelerator.
As part of my career transition, I was looking for opportunities that could allow me to do some meaningful work. Luckily, I connected with the accelerator program and immediately took the plunge as a mentor. It gave me an incredible opportunity to work with promising CPG entrepreneurs. The role then evolved into becoming the Accelerator Program Manager. I could not have asked for a better platform than District Ventures to contribute to the Canadian entrepreneurial community – needless to say, I love my job.
Q: What is the best thing about working with CPG and/or entrepreneurs?
The CPG industry has always fascinated me. It is so exciting to be part of helping nurture and grow brands that are going to change people’s lives and the planet for the better.
For me, working with entrepreneurs serves a higher purpose. It is all about going beyond ourselves, helping others succeed and helping them realize their dreams. Brands in our accelerator all operate in industries which are top-of-mind for North American consumers and impact the communities they are headquartered in.
Q: How has the accelerator program evolved to support CPG entrepreneurs?
The program keeps evolving to address the needs of entrepreneurs. When COVID-19 brought disruption to every possible sphere we could have imagined, the accelerator program was no exception, and there was a need to quickly adapt and pivot to a virtual program.
As a result, the program now focuses on these elements:
- It’s more intensive than it’s ever been – with weekly learning sessions, followed by advisory meetings structured around addressing each business’s specific needs and challenges.
- The content covered in the program includes all the essential areas with deep insights coupled with practical approaches to building and successfully running a CPG company.
- It’s an entirely virtual program that runs for five months.
Q: What types of businesses and/or entrepreneurs do you think can get the most out of the program?
Entrepreneurs need to be growth oriented. This program is all about taking a business with a refined product and developing a growth strategy to become a national brand. That requires a willingness to learn, challenge assumptions, and, most importantly, a desire to do the work – day in, day out.
If we are aligned on that, entrepreneurs in the accelerator program benefit from the resources to get where they are going faster. We take an in-depth look at each aspect of the business and provide them with insights and connections to help scale the company. The entrepreneur also grows as a leader and increases their confidence in navigating the challenges of running a growing start-up.
Q: If you’re not in the office, where would we find you?
I am an avid reader and very passionate about learning. As a result, I spend most of my non-working hours in my home library. If the weather isn’t freezing in Calgary, I’ll be out with my Celestron telescope exploring the night sky. The night sky never stops fascinating me!
District Ventures is looking for its next cohort of game-changing CPG entrepreneurs. Apply now at https://www.districtventures.ca/apply/