12 October, 2020
Looking back to the spring of 2020: A successful corporate pivot
At the initiative of Quebec's head scientist, The Québec Research Funds and OSEntreprendre have joined forces to promote the resilience, creativity and initiatives of enterprises having won the Student Founder of a Business Prize awarded by the OSEntreprendre Challenge.
The need for cervical pillows, lumbar pillows and sleep masks dropped off abruptly at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ask Simon Dallaire, co-founder of Ibboo, a young Montreal start-up specializing in comfortable travel accessories.
"Philippe Dallaire, my brother and business partner, had recently moved abroad. He witnessed the sanitation crisis where he was living, which permitted us to take action before COVID-19 swept over this part of the globe," says Simon Dallaire. When the wave finally hit North America in mid-March, Ibboo was well ahead of the game. Even better: it had already carved a new niche for itself in a sector altogether different from that of travel accessories.
"We inaugurated a new division, Ibboo Care, that specialized in medical equipment, such as masks, gloves and disinfectants. Once again, thanks to Philippe, we were able to take advantage of a network of reliable suppliers at a time when the demand for these products was skyrocketing," says the businessman.
Yet you need to have clients to sell your products to—something easier said than done when you are an unknown! To stimulate sales, the young entrepreneurs and their sister, who had joined her siblings during this hectic period, made many cold calls and sent out a flurry of unsolicited e-mails. All that effort paid off!
"A number of potential clients were receptive to our offer, especially among seniors' homes, several of which did not have enough inventory at the start of the crisis," he points out.
Ibboo Care's sales figures in its second quarter were higher—by a wide margin—than those of the parent company's first two years of business. This trend continued in July, when provincial public health authorities announced that masks were mandatory in public spaces and on public transport.
The quality and certification of medical products is an important concern. This is why Ibboo Care turned to Quebec suppliers for their materials, such as PurGerme antibacterial gel by Groupe LAV, a maintenance and cleaning product manufacturer in Montreal.
"We will maintain this division as long as the COVID-19 crisis lasts. The challenge is not to lose our initial corporate identity in the meantime," says Dallaire.
Participation in the OSEntreprendre Challenge
- Local prizewinner Business Creation section Mauricie 2018
- Jury's Favorite Student Founder of a Business Prize - Mauricie - Les Fonds de recherche du Québec