SCOTSBURN - A one-time Wall Street trader turned Scotsburn farmer has won $25,000 from Innovacorp to grow his online wholesale market specializing in local foods.
BidSquid Online Marketplace co-founder David Hachey plans to use the Innovacorp Spark Innovation Challenge prize money to expand his business across North America and has already made inroads in Pennsylvania.
“We’re starting to already increase our reach,” said Hachey, originally from New Brunswick.
After working on Wall Street from 1997 to 2008, Hachey moved to Scotsburn and started his own farm.
It was then he realized that it was often tricky for farmers to market their products, while customers often find it difficult to buy good-quality local food, despite frequent farmers markets.
However, BidSquid is now receiving a positive response from institutions such as schools, both in Pictou and Pennsylvania, where Hachey’s fellow co-founder Dan Strock lives.
“We think the time is right for institutions to start increasing their local purchases,” said Hachey.
Other potential BidSquid users could be seniors homes, hospitals and other groups or individuals looking to buy local.
“There are a lot of places for farmers to sell their products,” said Hachey.
His Wall Street experience also came in handy for starting his business, currently made up of only himself, Strock and third co-founder Andrew MacDonald.
Having completed his economics education in Boston, Hachey started working in New York as a ‘market maker,’ seeking out new customers.
This helped him to identify a solution to the problem of local food supply in Pictou County years later.
“I leveraged my experience to be a maker of markets in local commodities,” said Hachey.
The other Spark North region winners include BioPolyOil, an agri-based technology company founded by Mostafa Aghaei, Alma Zanganeh and Arian Shahnazari of Bible Hill, who received $50,000.
They are joined by iCrowdX, a natural fruit-based drink company founded by Sean Sears of Antigonish, who also won $50,000.
Innovacorp and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency each contributed $400,000 towards this year’s Spark Challenge.
“The winners of this year’s challenge will build stronger products and create jobs for other Nova Scotians, particularly young Nova Scotians,” said Minister of Business Geoff MacLellan in a release Friday.
This year’s challenge was province-wide, with winners in each of the four competition regions receiving up to $50,000 in funding and mentorship from seasoned business professionals. The four regions were Spark West, Spark North, Spark Halifax and Spark Cape Breton.
The challenge attracted 136 submissions. Six finalists in the Spark North region pitched their ideas to a panel of judges.
Finalists also participated in several business workshops and were mentored by seasoned business professionals.