June 29, 2017
Two months after winning a $5,100 entrepreneurial grant from JMH & Co , Colton Eremenko has been selling his salsa and getting ready to compete at the Innovation Rodeo, an Alberta-wide pitch competition for new entrepreneurs in Calgary.
“There are a lot of opportunities for start-ups seeking funding right now, and not just from government grants,” says Eremenko. “There’s money out there.”
While finishing his Bachelor of Business Administration at Medicine Hat College, Eremenko participated in the JMH & Co. Summer Company Program in 2016. The bootcamp for aspiring entrepreneurs teaches business planning and coaches them through launching their business.
Eremenko spotted a business opportunity in the millions of pounds of produce grown in Medicine Hat.
“Making the salsa takes 48 hours from vine to table,” says Eremenko. “I use an old family recipe.”
The tomatoes, green peppers and jalapenos used in 41 North Salsa are locally sourced from Red Hat Coop. Many veggies lack the eye-catching appearance for grocery shelves, making them perfect candidates for salsa ingredients.
Medicine Hat and Redcliff supply roughly 70% of Alberta’s greenhouse vegetable crop, with more than 150 acres of peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers and lettuce.
One day Eremenko will be prepping salsa in a commercial kitchen and the next he’ll be working on his marketing campaign. He is enjoying the variety of jobs of a small business owner and is receiving a warm reception to his product at the local farmers markets, where businesses like Sweet Pure Honey got their start.
“Medicine Hat food processors are on the doorstep of Canada’s third largest cluster of greenhouse vegetable growers with access to more than 100,000 consumers in the Medicine Hat region,” says Ryan Jackson, CEO of Invest Medicine Hat. “Setting up a food or beverage manufacturing business in the city makes sense.”
Eremenko sells out of this salsa at the local markets and is seeing interest from his social media following, where he receives enquiries about shipping.
Only two months after pitching 41 North Salsa, Eremenko is looking to test his business plan and product in a bigger arena with the vision to start small and grow.