Company Name: Red Island Cider
Team details and background: Our cider family is made up of two islanders returning home, Robert van Waarden and James Van Toever and our highly talented and extremely supportive better halves Anna and Caralynn. After working in successful health care and creative arts careers for the past 10 years both Robert and James were hungry for a new and refreshing challenge. Red Island Cider was born out of a common dream to be a part of a local, sustainable and most importantly fun project that contributed to the rural landscape of Prince Edward Island.
What is your business mission and/or vision? “Our mission is to create a natural, sustainable and profitable product infused with friendship and fun from the first blossom to the last sip.”
Description of product or service that you provide? Premium Craft Apple Cider to be made available on tap in island restaurants, PEILCC locations, in our own tap room/brewery and eventually off-island.
Who has been your biggest influencer or role model in your entrepreneurial journey?
Robert: My mother. She was an artist. As a young creative spirit she told me to pursue a trade instead of the arts. But, I knew that she was behind me 100% and was just trying to help me understand the difficulties, especially financial, in starting your own venture. This has always helped me keep my priorities straight and my eye on the bigger goal.
James: My father. Growing up my father was the owner, operator of several Island companies. From a young age, I witnessed that hard work really can pay off and when you believe in yourself, and your family and friends believe in you. There is not much in this world you cannot accomplish when you set your heart and mind to it.
What has been the biggest obstacle you’ve faced in your entrepreneurial journey? The biggest challenge we have faced in our entrepreneurial journey thus far is time management. It can be real struggle at times maintaining a healthy balance between Red Island Cider work, family responsibilities, day jobs and all our other competing interests.
What made you decide to apply to become a resident company of Startup Zone, and what part of the program do you think will have the biggest impact on your business? We applied to become a resident company at the SUZ because we saw it as an opportunity to work and network with some of the Island’s and Atlantic Canada’s most experienced and knowledgeable business leaders. We felt that having the experience of a strong team of professionals behind us that has traveled the treacherous path of new business develop before would allow us to navigate around serious pit falls better and fast forward our ultimate goal of getting refreshing premium craft cider into the hands of good people. We collectively feel that having the opportunity to learn from other individuals mistakes who have been through the StartUp process before will be invaluable to the short term success of Red Island Cider.
Where do you see your company in 5 years? In 5 years we hope to be a household name to cider lovers all over Atlantic Canada. We are going to make it our passion to continually re-invest time, money and effort into Red Island Cider until we are consistently producing some of the best, award winning ciders in North America. Every year we would like to expand our capacity, grow our cider family and help promote “island grown” as far as we can. We want to be in a position to give back to the entire community that has allowed two rural PEI kids to chase and fulfill a dream.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Robert: A photographer; been there, got the t-shirt, looking for my next journey.
James: An NHL goalie; unfortunately I was afraid of the puck.
What’s your motto or favourite quote?
Robert: “Art changes people and people change the world.”
James: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky