A former Calgary Bow Valley College student is testing out his “LO8OP Home in a Bag” concept until the end of the month to brave the elements and raise money to move the idea to commercial production.
Micah Louison, 24, is camping outside his family’s northeast Calgary home in the Bridgeland area until the end of October. He has launched a crowdfunding campaign with ATB BoostR and hopes to reach $7,000. When his quest is done, he will have stayed 45 nights outside.
Louison said his prototype aims to provide protection and connection for those who are affected by displacement and natural disaster. It can also serve as durable camping gear for recreational purposes. He said the inspiration came from his own harrowing experience in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan ripped through his city in Grenada.
“My school and neighbourhood were destroyed and my family knew we couldn’t stay, so we made our way up to Canada,” he said. “From my point of view, a shelter is the most minimal thing you can have after a disaster passes. Having something you need when you’ve lost everything is powerful.”
The home in a bag can be set up in 90 seconds.
A year ago, Louison placed third in Bow Valley College’s VentureQuest competition, where entrepreneurial students compete for seed money, support, branding and business planning assistance.
The school said VentureQuest is a partnership between Bow Valley College, RBC Business Accelerator and Repsol HUB for Social Enterprise. The Business Idea Competition gives Bow Valley College students the chance to refine their entrepreneurial idea, business plan, branding, sales pitch and production – all with the help of the college, the community, sponsors and industry leaders across Alberta. To date, over $90,000 (cash and in-kind services) has been awarded.
Craig Elias, entrepreneur-in-residence at Bow Valley College who spearheads VentureQuest, said Louison’s idea has staying power due to the social impact and community perspective.
“He found a way to put a bunch of things to make it more compelling and he’s doing all the things that an entrepreneur should. I love his 45-day program, especially in this weather,” he said.
BVC said applications for the 2019 competition are being accepted until Sunday, Nov. 4. It’s open to students in good standing, in any course or program, from any of its eight campus locations. For more information, visit www.bowvalleycollege.ca/venturequest.
Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald, including 12 years as a senior business writer.