2018 Bronze Prize Winner
2018 Bronze Prize Winner
truLOCAL named a top 10 winner in Canada’s FedEx Small Business Grant Contest as it redefines farm to table experience
When Marc Lafleur, the CEO and co-founder of truLOCAL, found out that he needed to submit a video to reach the next level of the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest, he considered his options: create the typical talking head video describing his small business, or really go for it and write a rap involving everyone in the company.
Given his passion for his company and his willingness to take risks in order to succeed, it’s not surprising that Marc started writing rhymes, creating a video that helped his company win a Bronze Prize of $5,000.
“Our passion for our business is so much more than just a mission statement. Our passion is reflected every single day with early mornings and late nights, with missed outings and no holidays, with emotional roller coasters, and personal sacrifice. It's reflected every single time we make a risk or a decision that could either take our business to the next level, or leave us with nothing,” Lafleur said. “This video sums up everything that is truLOCAL; we are young and a little crazy, and a lot of the time we have no idea what we are doing. This video gave us a chance to act a little ridiculous and step out of our comfort zones for our business.”
truLOCAL, based in Kitchener, Ontario, is an innovative online marketplace that connects health-conscious consumers directly to local farmers and suppliers in order to access locally sourced, clean, high-end meat. With a focus on sustainable practices, truLOCAL’s goal is to empower and help grow the business of local farmers.
Working as a door-to-door meat salesperson right out of university, Lafleur saw an opportunity to build a company that didn’t only provide access to quality meat, but also an amazing customer experience.
“truLOCAL isn't just about a passion to create a platform that connects local farms and suppliers directly to consumers; it's the passion we have for the friends we work with, the passion we have for our culture, the passion we have for building something meaningful together and doing whatever it takes to stand out,” Lafleur said.
For truLOCAL, that means paying close attention to everything from website design to product delivery, which is why FedEx’s reliable shipping is so important to the company.
“We have a very finicky delivery process, because we’re shipping meat. Because we’re so brand-focused, we need to know that our customers will continue to get the best experience once we hand the meat off to the shipper to get where it has to go. FedEx is so good at meeting our specific needs – they’ve been awesome.”
In terms of the $5,000 grant, truLOCAL plans to invest further in platform development to make the customer experience even better.
“We’re taking best practices from other industries and bringing them over to ours,” he said. “We’re using technology to be the best at connecting customers to the source of their food. Our vision is so clear. It’s our guiding star.”
Running a small business means stepping out of your comfort zone, and taking a chance, according to Lafleur. While he says there’s no silver bullet to success, he has found that these pieces of advice have helped him along his new business journey.
- Understand your brand
Lafleur has seen companies struggle when they try to take on too much, muddling their vision. Rather than attempt to do many things in a mediocre way, he believes in the value of focus.
"Do what you do and do it well,” Lafleur said. “In your early stages, once you latch onto an idea, define who you are and what you stand for, build your brand, and don’t diversify too quickly.”
- Seek out support
Because entrepreneurship can be isolating at times, Lafleur is a strong believer in tapping into a network of likeminded business owners.
"Running a business can be a lonely journey, so my advice to others would be to surround yourself with a network. Regardless of where you live or the size of your community, there will be other startups in your town. Seek them out and support one another,” he advised. “Plug into a network – it’s a huge game-changer.”
- Adjust your mindset
Small business ownership isn’t glamorous. It’s hard work, long days, and sometimes a grind, but Lafleur believes that if you put yourself in the right mindset, you’ll better set yourself up for success.
"It’s easy to be bogged down with doubt when you’re first starting out, but I believe that if you have the right mindset going in, and really make a commitment to yourself, you’ll be much better off,” he said. You need to be realistic about committing the next few years of your life to your business, so you need to put your vision and dreams first to find success.”