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Local start-ups collaborate, reach-out to a larger market

When David Shadbolt and Denise Lawson first met in August, they connected over the fact that they were both building businesses and had similar ambitions.

When David Shadbolt and Denise Lawson first met in August, they connected over the fact that they were both building businesses and had similar ambitions. Six months later, Lawson and her husband Marco Coda are working with Shadbolt and another home-based business owner, Neil Hammond. They say they've developed something of a symbiotic relationship that helps each business grow, and they believe that through monthly gatherings of the newly formed Bowen Island Home-Based Business Network, more relationships such as this will emerge.

As a personal fitness trainer and wellness coach, David Shadbolt has, until recently, worked with groups and clients in-person. After his first year living and conducting his business on Bowen, he decided he needed to reach a wider audience.

"There's a great gym here, several yoga studios, and other personal trainers here already," says Shadbolt, "and the market is small to start with."

Neil Hammond's company, Learnbase, develops interactive online learning platforms, and the idea of developing such a platform for Shadbolt's business, Peak Symmetry Transformative Fitness and Health, seemed like a perfect fit to grow his business beyond Bowen.

"Nothing I'd seen online prior to Neil showing me his work, captured my vision accurately."

A key component of developing such a course is video, which just happens to be the business that Denise Lawson and Marco Coda are starting to build.

For Lawson and Coda, the idea of developing a videography business stemmed out of Lawson's web-building business, which itself is an offshoot of her personal blog.

Currently, Coda spends half of every week in town working as a paramedic while Lawson is happy to stay on-island after 12 years of commuting.

"Staying on-island, not paying for the ferry everyday, it's such huge savings," says Lawson. "And running a business is a way to work in a place where you otherwise wouldn't be able to have a job. I see it as a key component to building the local economy, but part of making that work is by bringing in money from elsewhere."

Coda says that because he and Lawson are just starting out as videographers, they are offering a reduced rate to Shadbolt on this project.

"On our first shoot, my battery died and I used a hand-held light from Home Depot," he says. "All of us are in learning-mode to some degree, and by working together, we can help each other move forward."

As the collaboration between Learnbase, Peak Fitness and Lawson and Marco's currently un-named company moves forward, the group has also come together at a number of meetings of the Bowen Home-Based Business Network.

Launched in September by accountant Randall Yip, the Network features speaker's who offer insight into various aspects of business. It is also a chance for people running home-based businesses to get to know one another, and find ways to collaborate.

"We have so much talent on this island," says Lawson. "The problem is, people don't always know each other, or know what other local people have to offer that might be helpful to them."

In that spirit, the members of the Bowen Home Based Business Network (with Lawson taking the lead on this occaision) have booked their next speaker: David Van Seters will be talking about the "sharing economy."

"We all have something to share," says Lawson. "We just need to get better at recognizing those assets."