Chris Ridley and April Link are working with Futurpreneur Canada and her mentor

Heart of our City: Two minds are better than one for April Link

After meeting her partner on Vancouver Island nine years ago, April Link chose to set up shop in Prince Rupert

Many entrepreneurs likely know the feeling.

Starting up their own business, they might have a solid idea in their mind of what form and shape their initiative will take, how it will look and what it’s designed to do and to be.

But that image changes, many times more than once over the course of actually putting an enterprising idea together.

So it’s been for April Link and her partner in life and in business, Chris Ridler.

“We’ve had a few different ideas to how exactly the business would look and each time we’d come up with an idea and work on a plan with some financial stuff. [We then] decided whatever that vision was, wasn’t actually going to be something viable to support our entire family right away, so that has definitely been an up and down [process],” said Link last week.

“Each time we thought we were close to being able to start and then when I really worked it out, I realized it wasn’t going to work … We both reworked the idea two or three times before we got to where we are now.”

Those types of struggles are far from uncommon in the often cutthroat business start-up world, but Link and Ridley figure they’re right where they need to be and know the right people in order to be successful in Prince Rupert with their new outdoor adventure company focused on guided canoe and hiking trips, outdoor education programs and gear rentals, called Outer Coast Outfitters.

Growing up in Prince Rupert, Ridler knows the North Coast area quite well, and he met Link almost nine years ago at a Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training (COLT) guide training course at Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. She then visited Prince Rupert a few times and decided if they were going to start a business, doing it on Ridley’s traditional territory through his Tsimshian roots would be the best place to do it.

“We both had these visions independently of each other more than 10 years ago and then we decided we were going to combine those visions and do something that would work for a family business … We wanted something that would allow us to stay close to our community and family and still do the work that we love,” said Link.

Link and Ridler have been working with Futurpreneur Canada’s core loan program. She’s received her loan and is currently working with her mentor match, Kristi Farrell, owner of Cow Bay Cafe and Opa Sushi, to help her get started on the launch of her business.

“She’s shared some resources and information with me that I was needing to get lined up for this startup right away … She was telling me her story about becoming an entrepreneur and what that’s been like for her for two different businesses over the years,” Link said, adding Farrell will be working with Link and Ridler over the next two years as a mentor.

“We actually first got tied up with ThriveNorth – Futurpreneur Canada through the small business challenge last spring and that got the ball rolling. Over the last few months we’ve been working with them – they’ve given us a lot of coaching around the business planning and the peer mentor circle.”

Outer Coast Outfitters and the duo are in the North Coast for the long haul and there’s nowhere they’d rather operate their own enterprise than in Prince Rupert.

“I love the size of the community and the feel of the location as well. Especially when you leave town, you have immediate access to really wild areas, so that part of it is very appealing to me. I think it makes it really well-suited to this type of business,” she said.

 

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