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For U of G alumnus and entrepreneur Ben Cullen, starting a business is all about capitalizing on opportunities
A U of G Ridgetown graduate with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Dalhousie University, Cullen’s business idea came from a farmer friend who didn’t have a way of selling his organic beans. Having experience in consumer-packaged goods and familiarity with agriculture the idea was illuminated. Cullen did some research and realized that the majority of organic beans sold in Canada were coming from other parts of the world, including China.
Cullen saw his opportunity.
Enter the Wood Centre
Being a solo entrepreneur can sometimes be a lonely path. The community at the Wood Centre was a great fit for him as it provided him with access to different support groups and helped him formalize business plans, develop a proper pitch plan so he could articulate his company’s vision in pursuit of investments. Cullen’s business – Cullen's Foods – was born.
Cullen fondly remembers participating in the Wood Centre’s Hub Pitch where he won the Warren and Deborah Jestin Impact Award and tied for the Gryphons Helping Gryphons Award. This helped grow his confidence and validated his business idea. More importantly, it helped Cullen refine his “elevator pitch.”
Business as a force for good
Wanting to improve his community, Cullen’s Foods gives 1% of its sales to not-for-profit partner Share - a registered charity that supports sustainable and socially responsible agriculture. Upon starting his business, Cullen started with just one farmer and 15 acres and has since grown to 7 farmers and over 400 acres in a matter of years. In the next year, Cullen’s Foods will be stocked at Sobey’s, Thrifty Foods and the Real Canadian Superstore.
One entrepreneur to another
When starting a business, Cullen suggests fellow entrepreneurs not wait and “just start and dive right in.” He references the mistakes he makes and that is typical for a young entrepreneur starting out.
“If you spend too long in the ideation phase, you will never get to your final stage,” says Cullen. “Get the minimum product out there, listen, and then improve on it.”“That is the uncomfortable part. Putting something out there that you aren’t sure if the market wants, but you need to test the waters to continue to grow and develop.”