Move together like the Borg? Not really, but my yoga teacher said this in class once and I’ve been dying to use it ever since (Do I date myself with my love for all things Star Trek? Perhaps). The point here is that innovation needs community to really thrive!
Side note: You may think “What is she talking about? The Borg aren’t exactly innovative.” I’d argue that the Borg, as a community, set out to identify and assimilate awesome technology to advance their collective!
To really drive needed change, entrepreneurs can’t operate in isolation. We need the support of early adopters, thought leaders, fellow-entrepreneurs and awesome mentors. Communities of innovation like the RIC Centre provide us with the infrastructure needed to bring all the right people and resources together to support change.
Our Experience in the RIC Centre Incubator Program
Kabuk was lucky enough to be selected by the RIC Centre as part of its Incubator Cohort for January-July 2015. This is a fantastic program, designed to take businesses to the next level of growth over a six month period. Each cohort is comprised of five promising companies who move into the RIC Centre to work with entrepreneurs-in-residence and other RIC resources to drive commercialization of their technology.
Nearly six months in, we couldn’t be happier with our experience. The staff at the RIC Centre really cares about its companies and have gone out of their way to connect us to the right people to move our business forward.
Work with Entrepreneurs-in-Residence
As part of the incubator program, each company is assigned an entrepreneur-in-residence to work with one-on-one. Kabuk was assigned to John MacDonald with whom we’d already been working prior to joining the incubator (Indeed – John was a driving force in our decision to apply for the incubator program in the first place). Having bi-weekly progress updates with John were fantastic to keeping Kabuk on track and helping us refine our strategy and tackle specific challenges. John (and all the RIC Centre staff) was great about introducing us to other companies with potential synergies, prospective clients, and more. He was also a priceless resource in preparing us for pitches and helping us really up our presentation skills.
Access Great Mentors and Training
The RIC Centre also has a wealth of great mentors that they refer their clients to when they don’t have the expertise on staff. Andrew Yoshioka and Axel Kuhn are only two of the fantastic mentors we had the pleasure of working with during our incubator stint. Being on site at the RIC Centre was also extremely convenient for accessing the Lunch & Learn seminars and other presentations and workshops that the RIC provides to companies in the Mississauga/Brampton/Caledon area.
In addition to making personal connections, the RIC got us in front of a number of panels that provided us strategy/product feedback and additional introductions. They also invited us to participate in events such as Mississauga’s inaugural First Look event that put us in front of a room of potential investors.
Work Side-by-Side with Other Entrepreneurs
Last, but certainly not least, we loved being located right on premise with other great innovators. We compared challenges and successes and helped bounce ideas off of each other, both informally and formally, during our bi-weekly team meetings.
Check out our fellow incubator companies. They are doing some fantastic things.
- ColdBlock Technologies: ColdBlock has developed new sample digestion technology that results in significant productivity gains. This innovative technology is making waves in the mining industry.
- EnviroDiamond Technologies: EnviroDiamond has patented technology that creates nanodiamonds from high velocity explosions that consume carbon dioxide. Seriously – what could be better than diamonds and explosions in one cool package? Not much!
- NextGrid Inc: NextGrid has developed a furnace that generates electricity and can save businesses and consumers thousands of dollars per year. How cool – or hot – is that?
- Talon Pharmaceuticals: The team at Talon is working hard on new drugs to treat Ataxias and other orphan diseases. Take my word – these guys are going to change the world.
If you are a start-up looking for resources to take your business to the next level, I strongly recommend applying to the RIC Centre’s incubator program. It’s been incredibly valuable to us.
My one complaint? Six months isn’t nearly long enough. We’ll be sad to go, but look forward to keeping in touch with all the great friends we’ve made along the way.
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