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  • Big Stories from Small Business Qualifiers

    Second of 5 Qualifiers

    Ross O’Keefe – The Nexxbar Equipment Inc

    While working in remote locations in northern BC, I found myself falling ever further into a vortex of pain from past injuries. I was 38 when the chronic pain began to change my life from being very active to struggling to stand for any real length of time at 43. I had two young children and I was becoming desperate to find a way to help myself. Present day treatments in various disciplines are refined and effective, the problem for the majority of people afflicted is there is not enough insurance coverage available and time in today’s busy lifestyle to get enough treatment to truly get out of the chronic zone.

    I realized I had to receive frequent short daily massage and to force the effected muscle in to true healing i had to find a way to treat myself. I began a journey as inventor and entrepreneur after stumbling on a way to treat myself all day long through a leverage system. The missing piece had been found and using the body as the point of leverage opened up a whole new concept immediately validated and accepted by all disciplines in the health and wellness space. We have brought this company to full operation and administration conjunction with a great team of Newfoundland’s best Physiotherapists. The development and administration of Nexxbar INC. has and will always remain in this great province.


    First of 5 Qualifiers

    Alex Henniffent – VOLTFUSE

    At a very young age, I knew that snowboarding was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was something that truly made me happy, and I was determined to do whatever it took to continue doing it. Undoubtedly, I wanted to be a “pro-snowboarder.” However, my career didn’t exactly follow that specific path.

    Before discovering and realizing this burning passion of mine, I had never considered myself to have any real interests or hobbies to keep myself busy with – thus leaving plenty of time on my hands to get into trouble. Consequently, I found myself hanging out with people I probably shouldn’t have been with and experimenting with things I had no right reason to be messing with.

    After my parents found a pack of cigarettes in my coat pocket – which I had purchased for the purpose of individually re-selling to other kids at a profit – the path I was venturing upon changed completely. Thanks to my parents and their traditional parenting style, I was disciplined the good ‘ol fashioned way – grounded, revoked privileges, and isolated from my troubled acquaintances. For this, I’m forever grateful.

    While in “confinement,” I spent a lot of time messing around on the computer with web-design and development. Through this, I was able to self-educate myself within these disciplines and gain an understanding of the emerging online world. During this same time, my father had taken me snowboarding for the first time at Marble Mountain. The combination of these two events were pivotal for me and played a huge role in deciphering what I was meant to do with my life.

    After these realizations, I told myself that I was going to “pursue snowboarding” – in hopes of progressing my technical abilities enough to entice prospective sponsors, collect cash through the events that I competed in, and film for feature-length snowboard videos. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the chances of me achieving such a career were pretty slim – given the unpredictable winters and lack of training resources within Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Knowing that I wanted to create a career that would allow me to live within the sport and industry that I loved, the next logical move was to explore the realm of entrepreneurship – something that subconsciously occurred for me and was fueled solely by my passion for snowboarding.

    From my experience as a snowboarder, I had first-handedly encountered voids within the market, both in terms of product and also how the brands were being managed as a whole. First and foremost, I noticed a lacking of brands that were truly owned and operated by snowboarders, which in turn lead to a disconnect within the products that were being offered. I felt that if a brand was producing products to meet the needs of snowboarders and enhance their respective functionalities, then it would only make sense for them to be designed, developed, and marketed by snowboarders themselves. This simple ideology, in conjunction with my own creative outlook and experience as a snowboarder, served as the founding principle and kick-starter to my business, VOLTFUSE.
    VOLTFUSE is a specialty headwear and apparel brand, based out of the small Atlantic Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Established in 2010, VOLTFUSE’s founding principle was and continues to be being a truly rider owned and driven initiative, while placing a strong emphasis on incorporating authenticity, durability, and technicality throughout each of its products. Its products are sold both online and in retailers throughout Atlantic Canada. I’m 22 now, but I was 14 when I first founded the business.

    Distinctive product attributes that focus on differentiation, such as uncommon fabric compositions and materials, unique embellishments, and technical functionalities each play a role in capturing the interests and serving the needs of VOLTFUSE’s target market. It’s not necessarily one “large” thing that differentiates VOLTFUSE from its competitors, but rather a combination of multiple “little” things that our customers desired and our competitors weren’t providing.

    The initial days of VOLTFUSE were nothing short of humble. A considerable portion of my youth was spent designing, hand-printing, and embellishing garments and hats. There were times in which I even had my grandmother helping out. After the goods were made, I would then distribute them throughout my network of snowboarders, garnering awareness and feedback towards improvements.

    While traveling myself as a snowboarder, I was able to network with many up-and-coming athletes and industry experts, in which I was able to showcase my products, gathering further feedback, and attracting prospective talent to get involved within the brand. Today, VOLTFUSE has nearly 20 internationally-located athletes contributing from both a promotional and product development standpoint.

    As each year passed, the product quality consistently improved. Each product collection was an opportunity for VOLTFUSE to improve upon the last, while striving to experiment, differentiate, and innovate within the goods that we were producing.

    Today, VOLTFUSE has been able to scale is operations and reach an international audience by leveraging its unique product offerings and employing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.

    My vision with VOLTFUSE is to grow it into being the leader and innovator within the headwear and apparel space, while utilizing and embracing its youthful heritage within snowboarding.

    8 years ago, my love for snowboarding had introduced me to the world of entrepreneurship – an entirely new and equally as rewarding passion of mine. Since the beginning of VOLTFUSE, I have went on to pursue other ventures and serve as a mentor for other entrepreneurs. This entrepreneurial lifestyle is indescribably fulfilling, and I get those warm fuzzy feelings whenever I hear someone tell me that I had played even the slightest role when inspiring them to take the leap into starting their own business.

    Regardless of how niche something may seem – if someone has the passion, drive, and willingness to relentlessly work towards and believe in something – it’s possible and within reach. My story is proof to that.

    To learn more about VOLTFUSE, check out this video

    “The Trail” | VOLTFUSE from VOLTFUSE on Vimeo.

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