New Businesses in Vancouver

From concept to consumer, Vancouver has been the incubator of many innovative ideas. If you missed the IPO for Lululemon, here are two of the latest viable ventures we’re watching.

Go Voluntouring
Enjoy wine? Visit Bordeaux to help test and improve viticulture methods for enhancing biodiversity. (A tough job, but someone has to do it.) Want to help protect wildlife? Travel to Rwanda to track mountain gorillas, care for endangered elephants in Sri Lanka or take an Amazon riverboat adventure and help researchers collect information about wildlife conservation.

These are just a few of the amazing travel opportunities made possible by GoVoluntouring, an online company that pairs volunteers with organizations and communities around the globe. Opportunities fall into several categories: teaching, environmental and wildlife programs, community development, women’s and youth programs, and learning. On the website, you can further filter your options by cost, duration, age appropriateness, fitness level, religious affiliation and, naturally, destination.

The business was launched in September and has already matched up about 400 volunteers with 100 organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and WWF. And, last month, GoVoluntouring was acquired by Flight Centre. Founder Aaron Smith has stayed at the helm and will guide GoVoluntouring forward with greater resources and bigger networks.

What Makes It Viable?
The company’s tagline says it all: “Holidays for humanity. Escapes for your soul.” There is a strong desire among people to get away from their First World problems, help people less fortunate and become more grounded by experiencing what life is like in other countries. Still, trying to find a community to help develop in, say, Laos, can be a little daunting on your own. GoVoluntouring fills a gap and helps intrepid travellers have life-changing experiences, changing others’ lives in the process.

It’s the key ingredient in cocktails being served up at some of Vancouver’s most popular public houses, and it’s quenching the thirst of yogis in studios citywide. Some dog owners are even offering it to their pets. CoCos-Pure launched last October and the refreshing premium coconut water has quickly found its way onto the shelves of major grocery chains and the menus of high-end Vancouver restaurants like Cobre and Blue Water Café. It’s also available in many yoga studios around town and in pet shops in Vancouver and New York.

How did three 30-something guys with no experience in the food and beverage industry come up with the idea for CoCos-Pure? When travelling through the tropics, they went nuts over coconut water and wanted to share a taste of the good life. As more and more people learn about the benefits of pure coconut water, their timing couldn’t have been better. Today, one of the partners oversees production operations overseas, while the other two manage the business in Vancouver.

What Makes It Viable?
Positioning a beverage as mix for your booze, a natural alternative to sports drinks and a treat for Fido is a true marketing feat, and part of the reason the company has been so successful. Another reason is: the stuff tastes good. CoCos-Pure is made from a rare coconut unique to Thailand and known for its superior taste. No sugar or preservatives are added, unlike many other brands. It comes in a tin, not an aluminum can lined with BPA — which has been linked to a number of health problems.

Image courtesy of s.yume

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