Start-up business network to launch in Lower Mainland 0
As a start-up entrepreneurial network touted by Victoria is nearly set to launch in the Lower Mainland, fledging tech companies flock to a Vancouver Convention Centre event Wednesday to describe their "aha" moment.
British Columbia Innovation Council, through its acceleration network program, has been connecting experienced entrepreneurs with their junior counterparts the past two years around the province.
The provincially funded program has yet to reach Metro Vancouver, but is slated to arrive within the next four months.
So far, it's generated $4 million in investment and 47 start-ups have joined.
BCIC's Dean Prelazzi said the cost for a startup CEO to sit down with an experienced executive, every second day, would generally be prohibitive.
"The start-ups will pay a marginal fee, like about $200 a month for approximately $3,000 to $4,000 of value," he said.
Here are a few local presenters, and what they had to say, at Wednesday's conference.
The mobile app
Founder of the CarrotLines iPhone application, health-conscious Wahiba Chair realized her destiny as a teen while living in the United States.
Shocked after witnessing what she calls an "epidemic" of obesity, she began developing a database app that lets users scan food products, and tells them whether it's suitable to eat based on preprogrammed health requirements.
Two years after opening office, the 30-year-old's database now has more than 30,000 Canadian grocery products. Chair expects to turn a profit in six months to a year.
Her advice for start-ups? Have a backup plan, keep a second job, and be patient.
The online photo booth
SMART Pics co-founder Ray Kanani initially wanted to build a "before and after" picture booth for salon customers, but that was before celebrity big shots took an interest.
His twist on the traditional snap-and-print technology puts pictures on an online gallery, and is mobile enough to place in venues like Vancouver nightclub Ginger 62.
"Our big break was at a New York Fashion Week (in 2010)," the 25-year-old said. Notable users include the casts of America's Next Top Model and Breaking Bad, Russell Brand, Ciara and Jay-Z.
Starting with $5,000, the company now pulls in six-figures annually.
"Jump right in and don't be afraid to fail."
The scalpel grid
Colin O'Neill's story begins as an engineering and economics student at the University of B.C. But the Target Tape creator realized, during an elective medical course, how surgeons using "eyeballing" techniques could spell disaster for patients.
He developed a grid-based tape, suitable for a patient's skin, for use before and during surgery that could eliminate the guesswork in surgical practices. The project is currently under clinical testing at Vancouver General Hospital.
Armed with $500,000, he hopes surgeons will be using his device by the end of 2013.
The first step for the 25-year-old, formerly a "poor" fresh grad with a vision, was making friends in the biz and generating investments.
The kill switch
His device won't call you in the morning, nor will it scream an alarm, but it promises to stop your car from being stolen.
Todco Innovations Inc. founder Richard Downey began work on his no-frills immobilizer for used cars in 2008. It's since been uphill, however, as the 47-year-old unsuccessfully pitched his product to companies such as London Drugs and OK Tire as well as on CBC's Dragons' Den.
Unfortunately, the lack of a detail-oriented business partner has put him $80,000 in the hole.
"Take on a couple of business partners. You've got to check the evidence and you've got to listen to everybody."