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Welcome to a special edition of the digest where we shine a spotlight on some great information, events, and companies within the Canadian natural products commercialization ecosystem:
  • Product development webinar (Part 1) on March 6th
  • Save the date for these three events
  • How a personal health challenge sparked a promising NHP company
  • Using PR to make the most of your tradeshow event budget
If you have story ideas or events and resources to share with the natural products ecosystem, please let us know. And if you have comments or questions, please contact us. We'd love to hear from you.
Pearl Strategy and Innovation Design
Product Development Webinar Need some help with your product development process? You won't want to miss this webinar with Susan Weaver from Pearl Strategy and Innovation Design. "We see a lot of business owners struggle to get a product off the shelves that wasn’t grounded in the basics of what customers are actually looking for. The 3D product development process is our reaction to that. It helps entrepreneurs look well beyond their own experience and personal interests to that of their customer.” Part 1 of this two-part series is Tuesday, March 6th. REGISTER TODAY >>
Courtesy: Colin Hall/CBC
Save the Date There are lots of valuable events on our radar in the coming months, but these three deserve serious consideration if you're looking to connect with real movers and shakers in the respective industries:
  • NeuroConX  Our Atlantic Canadian node partner, the PEI BioAlliance has been quietly growing a highly respected international event dedicated to brain health. This year's focus in on the fascinating connection between the gut microbiome and brain health and disease. You'll hear from leading researchers and connect with some of the innovative companies in the brain health industry. LEARN MORE>>
  • Benefiq (Montreal, May 15-16): NPC's Quebec node partner, the Institute for Nutrition and Functional Foods hosts Canada's biggest event focused on natural health and nutrition products. Benefiq attracts an international audience of companies, researchers and strategic suppliers. Adding to the conference and tradeshow, this year's event also features a pitch session with investors. LEARN MORE>>
  • Nutrition Capital Network - Natural Products Canada Investor Meeting (Toronto, June 27-28): Focused on the human health and wellness space, we are very proud to present this invite-only gathering. It features 20 high-potential companies pitching to carefully selected Canadian and international investors, including those from titans of the natural product industry such as Nature's Way, Nestle and Campbell's. LEARN MORE>>
Courtesy: Ioffe Biotechnologies
Naturally Energized

Most of us have had that feeling. You’re in a meeting, or listening to a lecture. You know you need to pay attention, but as hard as you try you just can’t keep your eyes open.

That’s what NPC client, Altair Ioffe, faced almost constantly before he found out he had narcolepsy.

“I was falling asleep in class, in the cafeteria, in the library. All the time. It was crazy. I wasn’t sure how I could finish my studies.”

Like most adults with narcolepsy, Ioffe was prescribed stimulants similar to those given to kids with ADHD. He didn’t like how they made him feel so he used his passion for biochemistry to do something about it.

While working towards his science degree, he started spending all his time researching the neuroscience behind the brain’s reactions to these stimulants. Leveraging decades of clinical research, he began to develop a natural solution to help get his focus and alertness back.

“It was really helping me, and my friends were interested. That’s when I realized I was on to something.”

Still working on his undergrad at Western University, Ioffe refined the formula into what is now known as Indezone, a patent-pending, Health Canada-approved natural health product that provides safe and sustained mental acuity without the side effects of coffee or other stimulants. 

But as everyone in business knows, having a great product is just the first step in building a great business.

“I’ve been so lucky to have all these amazing people around me, mentors and advisors - really busy people at the top of their game who are willing to help me take this company to the next level.”

With the networks he developed at Western, Queen’s, and the Smith School of Business, Ioffe has been introduced to all sorts of business-friendly programs, including LaunchLab, where he is part of the current cohort of companies receiving support and guidance.

Ioffe says the biggest challenge has been just how many things there are to juggle as a one-man show; from logistics to marketing and sales. And as much as he’s appreciated learning about each of these elements, he’s looking forward to being able to share the journey with a team, which he plans to have in place later this year.

One of the most unusual experiences for Ioffe was a recent stint on Dragons’ Den, which didn’t result in a deal, but was well worth the time and energy.
“They did a lot of editing to make it interesting for TV, but the dragons actually spent about 45 minutes with me, advising and guiding me. They were very supportive, even though my company was a bit early stage for them at the time.”

Ioffe has big aspirations for the company – while this year he’s focused on upgrading packaging, building his team and expanding distribution from his online channels to more retail locations, he hopes to be a leader in the booming nootropics business. And ironically, he thinks Canada’s stringent regulatory landscape will give him an edge.

“There are a lot of people trying to jump into this $2-billion industry. Not all of them have the validation of the claims they are making. With Health Canada making you prove your claims, it means you’ve done your homework. You’ve proven it works. For us, having the Health Canada approval is really important. Our quality standards are something we’re really proud of."

More importantly, Ioffe says it’s the customers who really drive him to make an excellent product.

“To me, the most rewarding thing has been to see the emails from customers who are so grateful for something that really works. People with concussions or recovering from chemo, they are able to concentrate again. It’s a huge motivator to get this into the hands of more people.” 
 
NPC is proud to work with companies like Ioffe Biotechnologies to help them meet their full potential. Ask us how we can help.
Leveraging your tradeshow investment with free publicity
 
NPC recently spoke with B2B media publicity and promotion expert consultant Steve Campbell of Campbell & Company Strategies Inc. The question: How can companies optimize the major dollars they invest to participate in industry tradeshows? One of the most important of these strategies is to leverage a booth presence by maximizing the many free publicity opportunities available to tradeshow exhibitors. And, Campbell notes, there are plenty of ways to do this. The key to taking advantage of them is to start early in the planning process.
 
Speaking opportunities
The first chance to get in on a gold-plated promotional opportunity, says Campbell, comes when you first deal with a sales rep about exhibiting. Inquire whether there are unpaid speaking opportunities for interesting technologies in the tradeshow (or accompanying conference); regardless of the answer, you can pursue these on your own.
 
According to Campbell, who works with Canadian natural products companies such as NPC client, Mazza Innovation, “What makes these speaking opportunities so attractive is that high-value targets will come to hear you speak simply because they must keep on top of new emerging, disruptive technologies and companies. They need to know what’s coming up that might help their business and also who they might do a deal with.” Attendance at one client’s presentation at a recent tradeshow in Geneva included a 5-star partner prospect they might never have met otherwise.
 
Campbell says companies should contact the tradeshow speaking organizer quite a few months ahead of time and be ready to submit a succinct but engaging topic “sell piece” that will interest both the decision-maker and, ultimately, tradeshow attendees. This may include explaining one of your technological advances that participants will want to hear about. While there may also be paid speaking opportunities, Campbell says it’s best to focus on the low-cost/non-paid ones first. If they tell you the conference agenda is already full, ask to be put on the waiting list; speakers sometimes cancel and openings can occur at the last minute.
 
Issue a pre-show news release
If you do get a presentation opportunity, issue a news release on the topic and send it to both the tradeshow’s PR staff and any trade magazine or newsletter editors attending the show. This might get your presentation written up, or encourage attendance or subsequent interviews. One other way to publicize the opportunity is to post it on your LinkedIn account. Campbell recommends building up LinkedIn contacts with plenty of industry players and customers. Taken together, your senior managers’ LinkedIn contacts can form a circulation list for your own industry-specific newsletter. His recommendation: have your senior managers make it their mission to greatly expand their LinkedIn contacts.
 
Another way to publicize your company’s presence in advance is to provide the tradeshow’s PR staff with an engaging written article about your company, complete with an “angle” focused on an industry challenge that your technology addresses. If you’re a start up, you can also apply for the show’s various awards, as many tradeshows will have a startup showcase competition. One client won a booth at the next year’s event — that was definitely worth the effort.
 
New product announcements at the tradeshow
New product announcements and launches are important, and trade shows are one place you will want to showcase new products. Campbell notes this should be backed up by written new product releases and graphics/photos distributed to all trade magazine writers and editors attending the tradeshow. Send these in advance to pique editors’ interest and encourage them to schedule a visit to your booth. And remember: these need to be written in a format that makes for easy publication. Editors have new product announcements coming across their desks all the time, so those that are print-ready will get published ahead of the ones that require significant editing.
 
Campbell also suggests you send out pre-show invitations to trade media editors, reporters and analysts to visit your booth or interview you on your new products or advanced technologies. Give them a good reason to drop by: usually it’s an impressive new product or technology announcement, or an opportunity for them to hear from your CEO about innovations affecting your industry. Even if they don’t have time to attend, they’ll appreciate the invitation and it might encourage them to get in touch with you later.
 
Is it worth it?
It’s a question worth asking: why put in this much effort for free publicity? “Because it’s the best and lowest-cost way of leveraging your tradeshow investment. It definitely beats the alternative of buying expensive promotional ads in the tradeshow program or sponsorships that can end up costing as much as or more than your booth.” Campbell adds that while tradeshows are often priced in U.S. dollars or euros, the bonus is that your advance work — conducted in the office — is performed in Canadian funds. Finally, you’re applying hard-earned corporate and product development knowledge that you’ve already spent a lot of money and time creating. Leverage both of these to the max and you’ll increase the value of your next tradeshow expenditure.
 
Need a refresh on the services NPC offers to help get natural products to market faster, cheaper, and more efficiently? Talk to us.
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