A Yukon College student enters the Whitehorse campus on March 18. The college is launching a program called PIVOT. which is aimed at linking businesses with experts who will help reenvasion a more resilient future and survive the economic crisis. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

College offers new program to help businesses evolve during pandemic

Businesses will be linked with coaches and experts

Yukon College Innovation and Entrepreneurship has launched the PIVOT. program aimed to help businesses evolve their services to better work for customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lauren Manekin Beille, manager of innovation and entrepreneurship, spoke with the News on April 15 about PIVOT.’s launch.

This program is for businesses that already have a customer base and will link entrepreneurs with experts who will help reenvision a more resilient future for businesses.

Any business that participates will get assigned a PIVOT. coach. This individual will act as a one-on-one mentor and will walk through the challenges the business is facing during the pandemic.

There is a pool of coaches available, depending on the specific needs of the business. Coaches will work with entrepreneurs between 25 to 50 hours to “explore a new way for their business.”

There will be a grant of up to $5,000 to help the business with its transition. This money is available through the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and the Yukon government.

All client businesses will be on a peer-to-peer channel so they can share information and communicate with each other.

She explained that the program’s goal is to help businesses pivot to a new way of operating, which will get them through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The idea is that businesses are revisioning a new future and rebooting probably to a new state,” Manekin Beille said.

She expects to see a lot of restructuring in the future. She feels businesses will have to take a look at their supply chains, where they get their goods, review expenditures and identify their customer base as well as how to reach it.

She said many businesses would probably need to create new websites or pursue new web development.

Marketing will be another major topic, she indicated.

“There are a handful of things we’re expecting that folks need,” Manekin Beille said.

She anticipates creating larger online marketing presences will be common pivots. This includes the strength of a website, social media communications and the overall portrayal of the company and its product.

These would be companies that traditionally rely on walk-ins to generate business.

“Online presence is a really big pivot that we are expecting to see,” Manekin Beille said.

She also said she expects that some businesses may need help on closing, as not all enterprises will be able to survive the crisis.

The college is looking for businesses to apply to PIVOT. and experts to apply to be coaches. She said she is looking for lawyers, business coaches, marketing experts and financial experts.

Applications opened April 14. She is unsure how great the needs are for specific types of experts at this time, but estimated web design, web development and finance experts will be needed.

“As the program grows, it will be interesting to see what else is coming up,” Manekin Beille said.

To qualify, a business must be based in the Yukon, must have an existing customer base, a clear pivot in the enterprise must be available, the owner must be willing to be coached, and an entrepreneur must be willing to hear feedback and revisit their operations.

She added that businesses must have a way of communicating with the program; a telephone would be enough.

She said eligibility could change to meet needs of businesses.

“This program is going to pivot as much as we expect the businesses that come in to pivot,” Manekin Beille said.

The college is accepting applications. Anyone wanting to be an expert, coach or to benefit from the service and apply through the College’s website at https://www.yukoncollege.yk.ca/innovation-entrepreneurship/PIVOT.

Contact Gord Fortin at gord.fortin@yukon-news.com

Yukon College

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