I don’t have the guts to be an entrepreneur.
Sure, I’ve had some ideas over the years that might make it out there in the real world, but I’m a realist.
I doubt I have the wherewithal, the drive and determination to do it all. Build a team, find investors, make connections; live, eat, breathe my idea for as many years as it takes to maybe make it a reality.
But I salute anyone who can do that.
Which is why I was pleased to hear a local TV production just earned two gold awards at an international marketing and communications show.
“Extrapreneurs” is a TV/web show produced by Nine Island Communications of St. John’s.
It’s a show by entrepreneurs that focuses on women entrepreneurs in this province.
It won gold in two categories at the 2018 MarCom Awards. (Nine Island also won two other MarComs – one gold, one platinum — for other projects.)
Season 1 of “Extrapreneurs” went live in February, with five episodes broadcast on Rogers TV and streamed online.
Co-owner of Nine Island — host and executive producer of “Extrapreneurs” Ronnie Walsh — is over the moon about the award wins.
“I think I’m still in shock because we’re very proud of it,” she told me Thursday. “It was a wonderful project to do. It was a lot of hard work. There were times we wondered if we were going to get the funding to pull it off but, come hell or high water I was going to make this happen.”
The genesis for “Extrapreneurs” arose from Nine Island working for years with a regular client — the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE).
“We’ve been doing NLOWE awards videos for a few years and I keep hearing from women that, ‘We’d really like more of our stories told. There’s issues out there that we face that nobody is talking about and we want somebody to tell our stories,’” Walsh said. “They weren’t specifically asking me, but they were making these comments about ‘How come nobody tells our stories or talks about how hard it is for us to get loans?’ and those kinds of things.”
As a former journalist, the comments hit home for Walsh.
“I thought this was really important,” she said. “There’s a need for it, there’s an interest in it. Being a woman entrepreneur myself and trying to play to my own skillsets what can I do to shine a light on this; help spark some conversations.”
So Nine Island got to work, gathering sponsors and investors to help cover the production costs on a show that would explore the burgeoning community of female entrepreneurs in this province.
“We wanted to make it more than a streaming TV show,” Walsh said. “We wanted to have tips, words of wisdom from experienced entrepreneurs or even just startups to try and help people realize that they aren’t isolated they aren’t alone in some of the challenges they’re facing.
“We didn’t want it to be a (public service announcement). We didn’t want it to be just business promoting themselves, and this is coming back to my journalism background. It had to be practical. It had to tackle issues and ask some of the important questions.”
Walsh said they also wanted to probe topics that don’t often get talked about, such as mental health, because — let’s face it — entrepreneurship is often a lonely, emotionally and financially stressful ride.
And while women entrepreneurs were at the core of the project, Walsh said they hope the finished product transcends gender.
“The topics of the show are told through the female perspective but it applies to any entrepreneur,’ she said. “So instead of seeing the same person telling you something about marketing and communications or finances, or whatever the topic is, we have a diverse range of voices talking about things that apply to any entrepreneur, either in Newfoundland and Labrador or across the country.”
Buoyed by the success of Season 1, Walsh is doing what all good entrepreneurs do – working to secure sponsors, partners and investors to be able to produce Season 2 for early 2019.
Meanwhile, the MarCom awards provide something all entrepreneurs need – validation.
More validation came when Walsh was speaking to an audience of about 200 people at a recent conference. When she asked how many in the room had watched “Extrapreneuers,” everyone raised their hand.
“When you have something that you’re so passionate about and you believe in your heart of hearts that this is going to do some good and maybe help somebody or spark a conversation and you see that (response)? It makes being an entrepreneur even more worth it.”
Season 1’s episodes are available at extrapreneurs.ca.
Mark Vaughan-Jackson is The Telegram’s business editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @telebookmark
New TV series showcases female entrepreneurs in N.L.