Glue: A Sticky Approach to Business


Glue 1
Fiona Robinson and Abdi Mohamed Brenda Sawatzky

While Glue may sound like an unusual name for a training and marketing business, one local pair believes it perfectly describes their business model and services. Fiona Robinson and Abdi Mohamed recently relocated to Niverville from Nanaimo, British Columbia to grow their business in a whole new sector of the country.

“Glue is a long-standing metaphor for bringing people and ideas together,” says Robinson. “I have a history of doing entrepreneurial training and marketing training with small and big business. I have a specialty niche with creative entrepreneurs, those being freelancers in general. Some are emergent entrepreneurs, but my area of focus is really more at the commercialization stage—they have a viable product and are ready to go fuller scale with it.”

Robinson and Mohamed describe their business as one that assists both budding and established entrepreneurs in networking with other entrepreneurs to help grow their business. The pair also provides resources for improving a business’s marketing strategies by connecting owners with creative types such as writers, graphic designers, website designers, photographers, programmers, and others.

While some entrepreneurs are looking for the meetups and creative connections, others can just turn to Glue for the answers. It’s Glue’s job to read the client and determine what’s best for them.

Glue can take the burden off entrepreneurs when it comes to dealing with all the different marketing aspects they face. As Glue builds on its creative business resources, they’ll help people grow by making referrals and bringing in new clients. Robinson and Mohamed say it’s a process where everyone wins.

“As I grew up and as I went to university, I was always the person that pulled in all the loose ends and made something come together at the end of the day,” Robinson says. “So, running an agency like Glue, you’re always pulling in new talent and you’re always doing it toward the end goal of a campaign or brand.”

Robinson began the business back in 2004 in Calgary and soon broadened it to include Vancouver Island communities. She has a degree in Community Planning and is working towards a doctorate in Creative Entrepreneurship specific to rural regions. Mohamed comes to the table with a master’s degree in Business Administration. Together, they are a formidable team.

“He’s the analytical, I’m the creative,” jokes Robinson.

Because Glue’s business model is mobile and adaptive, the pair decided to move their venture to a more centralized location.

“We looked across Canada,” says Robinson. “We chose Manitoba because of the central location, west to east as well as down south into the U.S. market. Also, we looked at corporate taxes, cost of business entry, availability of commercial leasing and purchase space, which is not available everywhere. As well, [we considered the] cost of labour and rural manufacturing incentives that were available in several Manitoba towns.”

What attracted them to Niverville specifically? They were given a personalized tour by a local entrepreneur and business developer when they inquired about the area. What was instantly evident and appealing to them was the large residential population within a commercial region that has so much potential for growth.

“One thing that I’d like to bring to Niverville that I love doing is group training, running entrepreneurial workshops and training sessions, because then you get that real face-to-face,” Robinson says. “That’s something that we can offer the small business community. We’ve done group training in the past and the connections that people make are just so trustworthy that they can last a lifetime when they go through that kind of stuff together.”

The duo previously created a research project for creative entrepreneurs called “Make it to Market.” The pilot project was run with groups of eight entrepreneurs in both Tofino and Nanaimo after they put the call out to a variety of different cities. The project’s focus was on how to make the best commercialization decisions possible. The results of this research led the duo to further adapt their business for the current market.

“I think what makes it unique is that there is so many different aspects to entrepreneurship and marketing, so you get into conversations really easily,” adds Robinson. “We have experience with a lot of different sectors now. It’s really about forming that creative collective and supporting the local entrepreneurs. One thing that I’ve learned without exception is that there is no cookie-cutter approach to any business.”

While their business structure sounds vast, varied, and complex, Mohamed boils it down in one simple statement: “Let’s say somebody has a business and they are a bit shy to get it out to the market. We help give them the confidence and tell them this is doable.”

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