We are so grateful to all that have supported us along our journey as a growing small business within the sustainability sector. Here’s to celebrating our achievements from the last year and looking forward to the next.
The year began with great excitement with a surprise nomination for the Small Business BC Awards in the category of “Best New Concept”. We made it into the top 5 in our category, which was an amazing accomplishment for such a new group of entrepreneurs. Although we didn’t win, we came in second place and took away some invaluable confidence, which has allowed us to flourish in ways we couldn’t imagine.
Following this, we received the honour of Top 100 in TELUS Pitch, a national contest for Canada’s best new startups. Despite our efforts to make it to the Top 10, we didn’t quite make the cut. However, like the SBBA, it taught us so much. We grew as a team and as a business. Watch out next year Telus PITCH, we’re coming and we’re coming to WIN!
Susgrainable was also thrilled to have received a ton of news and media coverage this past year. It started with a feature in Edible Magazine followed by editorial pieces in, The Globe and Mail, the Canadian Press, Western Producers, and Grains West. We finished off the year with some video on City TV and were live on Global TV weekend noon news hour where we baked our treats live in studio!
We were blessed to have grown our team in many ways. We hired our summer intern, Monika, from the UBC Sauder School of Business MBA Program with a little grant help from New Ventures BC (thanks!!). Monika, aka Angela’s long-lost twin sister from Toronto (for those that saw them work markets together), was a fantastic addition to our team and we’re hopeful she considers rejoining the team upon graduation!
We grew our production team with the addition of Bruno, our Head Baker, who has been invaluable to us as we create new delicious recipes and build out processes including inventory management, food safety protocols, and more. Bruno brings an enthusiastic energy to the team and we can’t wait to see what he develops this year – stay tuned!
Mikaela joined our marketing team in Fall 2019 as Impact Coordinator with a grant from Canada Green Corps to help us refine the sustainability elements of our business. Mikaela is full of energy and you’ve definitely seen this if you’ve visited our Squamish market! Her passion for zero waste is infectious and spills over into her entire work. She has worked diligently engaging the community, preparing impact metrics, and research ways to improve our operations to minimize waste, save energy, and build a healthier future.
Finally, we were excited to have Stuart join the Susgrainable team at the Executive Level as our Chief Financial Officer. Stuart’s timing was impeccable, as he joined in late July when traction was really picking up here at Susgrainable and growth was becoming unsustainable (very off brand if we do say so ourselves). Stuart had previously worked closely with Marc on Susgrainable and was able to hit the ground running and provide help wherever was necessary. Stuart’s tireless work effort and can-do attitude has been a refreshing addition, rounding out the Executive Teams skillset. Now that’s thinking circular!!
To say 2019 was a big year for Susgrainable may be an understatement. We grew from 1 to 6 retail partners and executed over 100 days of markets and events (not sure we’d recommend doing this… it was a grind near the end). We had the privilege of partnering with NADA Zero Waste Grocery in the Mt. Pleasant area early in 2019. NADA was our second retail partner and we couldn’t be more pleased to be working with another business in alignment with our sustainable value system and our mission to reduce waste. We look forward to where this relationship takes us in 2020!
Fast forward to the spring, and oh my, did we dive into the farmers’ market season headfirst! It started in April at the Squamish Farmers’ Market and quickly grew to include four Vancouver Farmers’ Market locations, two Artisan Farmers’ Market locations, the Granville Island Groundswell Test Market, and UBC Farmers’ Market. Getting to know the amazing groups that run these markets was a pleasure and we truly treasure all the friends we’ve made along the way. The farmers’ market community is a special one that we look forward to be a part of for a long time coming. Other notable events include Feast of Fields, Every Chef Needs a Farmer, the Calgary Stampede, the Pacific National Exhibition, Crankworx Whistler, and sustainability focused events hosted by MEC and Patagonia. Our schedules were so jam packed throughout the summer, you could find us at any of these six markets, up to six times in just one week! (This may sound rough but talk to our bakers who often worked throughout the night to make sure we had product… champions!)
With the summer ending and the markets slowing down, we took the opportunity to expand our retail customer line up. You can now find our spent grain treats at multiple locations. We have joined forces with two more Bean Around The World locations, one at Vancouver General Hospital and one in North Vancouver, in addition to South Granville, our first retail partner.
Most recently, Café Lokal in Kitsilano has taken on our two delicious vegan cookies, and Faculty Brewery, the first brewery to supply us with spent grain, now carries our cookies in their tasting room. If you have been to their tasting room recently, you may have noticed folks (or done it yourself) dipping Susgrainable cookies in Faculty’s feature stout beer. Who said cookies were only supposed to be dipped in milk? PS. If this happens to be you, please send us pictures!!!
Our 2020 goal is to continue expanding our retail presence, making consuming upcycled baked goods a little more convenient. Stay tuned to our Instagram account to be in the loop as we add new locations.
We are so thrilled at how quickly we went from testing products in the kitchen to a small business in the blink of an eye. The opportunities we’ve had this year have been amazing and that momentum is carrying right into 2020. We are so grateful to everyone that has supported us along our journey – we couldn’t have done it without you.
A special thank you to our brewery partners - Faculty, Parkside, R&B, Dogwood, and Monkey 9 - for supplying us with spent grain (sometimes at a moment’s notice). Thank you to our café partners - BATW South Granville, VGH, and North Vancouver, Café Lokal, and NADA Grocery – for your continued enthusiasm and support. Lastly, thank you to everyone with VFM, Squamish, Artisan and Granville Island Groundswell and UBC. Thank you for taking us on and all your endless help at the markets!
Lastly, thank you to all of you for helping us rescue over 1000 kg of spent grain in 2019. We have lofty goals to rescue over 75,000 kg in 2020. We won’t be able to do it without you. We look forward to sharing our journey with you. Please never hesitate to reach out with any ideas, no matter how big or small. After all, that’s how this business started in the first place – a crazy notion that we could turn beer waste into baked goods!!