Archive for March, 2008

Startup Incubator to Launch in Maple Ridge, BC?

Can a small-business startup incubator exist and thrive in Maple Ridge, BC? Well that is what I am going to find out. You see… I am about to start one. Sort of. Eventually. Well it is a bit of a long story.

Two weeks ago, I was let go from Reinvent Technology as part of a corporate reorganization. Quite the shock to me I admit, and I was not ready for the, “It’s not you, it’s me” speech given by Kevin Ham, “The Man That Owns the Internet.” You know the one that starts with, “Your work has been top notch, you are well-liked by your peers, and you are very enthusiastic and passionate, but…”

That word hangs out there. But. But what? But.

In any case, the cheese has been moved, and I must dive back into the maze, but…

There’s that word again. But. But what? What on earth am I going to do?

I’ve spent a large part of the past two weeks trying to decide exactly that. Am I going to go back and find a “real job”? You know… the kind of job that your parents attempt to understand and the kind that makes your wife happy that you have a corporate benefit plan and a steady pay cheque [even more important when your wife is also self employed]. Or am I going to do something completely different?

But what?

You see…I am an ideas man. I always have been and always will be. I am also entrepreneurial and a bit of a dreamer. I get my kicks out of imagining the impossible. I derive incredible satisfaction from listening to new business concepts and pitches, offering my two cents, and then sending the concept back for further grooming. In essence, this is what I have been doing for the better part of the last ten years. While yes, I have ran a startup. But I am more referring to my experience within the local hightech scene. Be it as an active participant in early stage ventures, restarts, or well-established companies looking to reinvent themselves. My role has always been the painter. The one that crafts the vision, spit-polishes the product line, or sets the direction of the ship heading over yonder. But…

Damn that word. But… But how does that pay the bills?

Well, this is where the leap of faith comes in and my vision for the future. I am going to launch a small business incubator that caters to the entrepreneur in suburbia. Kind of like Bill Gross’ IdeaLab, but without the initial bankroll. And I am going to be my first client.

For those of you who may, in some off chance be reading this and have no idea who I am or where Maple Ridge is, it is a suburban town about 1-1.5 hour’s drive out of downtown Vancouver. And there is no industry to speak of. Just commuters. But there are also a lot of people who work in home offices, and there are also a lot of the techies who are commuting. The way I see it, it is about demographics. Those who are young entrepreneurs and heavily vested in the technology sector can’t afford to live downtown anymore. They (as I did) are at the stage in their lives where they are thinking about starting a family. But as soon as that young family comes, it really can be challenging to work out of the home.

 Yep… I am going to get out of the house and incubate my own startup (or startups), perhaps inviting others into the mix in the near term as well. But first I need a business plan. You see that is what every good business has. I read something earlier today when I was reading about the government-subsidized Self Employment Program that 9 out of 10 businesses that don’t have a business plan fail, while 7 out of 10 that do have a plan succeed. Quite the statistic if it is accurate.

So I need a plan. But… But what is the business?

Well initially it is a business that is … a business. One that will be focussed on surviving through scratching and clawing and doing whatever contract work I can. Whether this is by helping others with their business plans, writing marketing strategy documents, creating product specifications and market requirements documents, or even freelance advertising copy. I am sure I will even try my hand at trying to win the occasional government issued RFP and then leveraging freelancers to fill in the gaps where they exist. Or at least… I will do this for 80% of the “work” day. I will do this to pay the bills and survive. The other 80% of my time (or really, 20% plus whatever I can spare), I will invent.

Some ideas will be in stealth mode, and some will be public. Some will succeed and some will never get off the ground. In today’s economy and technology world, any good idea can be outsourced and grown quickly, organically, and with near complete automation. My goal is to have 5 companies by the end of 2008 each making $1000 in profit (or with a clear line to that profit marker). In 5 years, I will have 5 companies each making $1 million in profits. I will also have incubated and helped many more get off the ground.

This is the launch point of the business. Blast off.

March 26, 2008 at 6:54 am Leave a comment