Sowing the CEEDs of Success

Sowing the CEEDs of Success

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Paula Lehr and Craig MacMullin

For over 25 years, the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development (CEED) has been empowering and advancing entrepreneurs in Nova Scotia. CEED supports innovative ideas, creative enterprises, and scalable strategies through our programs and partnerships. Our goal is to help build successful and innovative businesses that contribute to a vibrant and entrepreneurial Nova Scotia. We pride ourselves on being the place where early-stage entrepreneurs can access the knowledge and expertise they need to begin their journey, grow their current business, or take their idea to the next level.

The COVID-19 pandemic created significant challenges for small, locally owned urban businesses. But we were able to continue helping entrepreneurs without missing a beat, quickly pivoting program delivery and strategies. CEED offers startup and expansion loans, but we were also proud to help administer the Urban Main Street Loan Initiative (UMSLI). UMSLI was a Regional Relief and Recovery Fund provided by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Through UMSLI, we were able to have an extraordinary impact on a variety of Main Street businesses, disbursing over $2.6 million to finance their day-to-day operating costs through each phase of the pandemic.

In the Nova Scotia ecosystem, CEED is known to support early-stage entrepreneurs. However, that support is broader than most people think. While CEED continues to support the development of small and mid-size enterprises through the Self-Employment, Incubator, and Accelerator programs, we are also supporting several early-stage, innovation-driven companies. CEED’s Innovator program focuses on a product idea that could be the basis for a business. The program engages innovators to think entrepreneurially about product-market fit, customer discovery, competitive difference makers, and build this thinking into a compelling value proposition. This method has delivered results by helping Nova Scotian entrepreneurs to secure investment, win pitch competitions, and establish a commercial hypothesis for their product.

CEED’s Launchpad program goes even further. This program draws from Lean Startup methodologies to assist entrepreneurs in developing and validating business models for launch. Entrepreneurs work toward the development of their business model through active customer discovery, business model testing, and MVP development. It is a highly experiential program that relies on coaching and peer-to-peer engagement to drive business model development forward. CEED has partnered with Strategyzer, the developers of the Business Model Canvas, to use their online tools as part of this program.

Most recently, CEED collaborated with Ignite Labs, the Rural Innovation Hub Network, to develop Ignite’s Amplify Acceleration program. CEED’s Launchpad was the core of the program, with CEED also contributing coaching and additional program elements — like our four-session Innovator Mindset program.

Regardless of the program, we focus on providing tools to the entrepreneur, but it is up to the entrepreneur to find the solutions with their customers. Businesses are in the business of solving problems for customers. Successful businesses solve the problems that really matter to customers and, by extension, provide more value. In a startup of any kind, the initial business idea is a series of guesses or unvalidated assumptions. Our programming is designed to challenge those assumptions and either validate the entrepreneur's hypothesis or gain enough knowledge from their customer to pivot to a better value proposition.

The HubNS

The HubNS, powered by Startup Space, is a manifestation of trying to create a vibrant and entrepreneurial Nova Scotia. Developed with entrepreneurs in mind, The HubNS provides next generation community-building tools to help entrepreneurs facilitate meaningful connections, navigate local resources, measure impact, and grow communities across the province.

The HubNS is a free virtual community for any member of the entrepreneurial ecosystem looking to enrich the spirit of business across Nova Scotia. On The HubNS, you can interact with the ecosystem — it's designed to expand access to resources, events, knowledge, and mentorship. Whether it’s connecting you to the people who can help you, leveraging community events, or accessing resources, The HubNS provides the information to take you where you need to go. If someone has a spark and they want to be an entrepreneur, we wanted to ensure that they could go somewhere and get information at any time. They can ask questions, find resources and events, and start to chart a path for themselves. The mission of the HubNS is simple: create and provide a thriving, entrepreneurial ecosystem that business owners like you can call home.

One of our favourite resources is the Resource Compass. There are a lot of supports from organizations out there, and we wanted to bring them into one spot. Any of the organizations can claim their resource to manage their message and presence. Our hope is that they will do more: participate in discussions and help entrepreneurs achieve their potential. The HubNS is a platform for entrepreneurs across Nova Scotia — and the organizations that support them — to truly collaborate, break down barriers, bridge the rural-urban divide, and build a robust Nova Scotian economy.

Curious? We encourage you to become a member and connect with our growing community! Visit to learn more.

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