Tech Boot Camps Gaining Traction in Surrey

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Mike Bell of Envisio

Envisio Solutions Inc. co-founder and CEO Mike Bell: “understand the investors who understand your market space. Those are the ones you want to reach out to” | Chung Chow

By Krisendra BisettyTue Dec 10, 2013 12:01am PST

Published in biv.com

Entrepreneurs seek advice on how to commercialize ideas and attract capital

Surrey has aspiring entrepreneurs brimming with ideas, and the city has the ability to become a bedroom tech community, but they need help getting off the ground.

The BC Technology Industry Association (BCTIA)’s Centre4Growth “boot camps” are where they’re getting it, said Mike Bell, co-founder, president and CEO of Surrey-based Envisio Solutions Inc.

Bell said the advice, networking and information his company received from the Centre4Growth’s free monthly meetings held in Surrey proved invaluable.

Envisio acquired its web-based software – which helps non-profits with strategic plan implementation and reporting – from Australia where there was a proven market. Without the same proven market in Canada, Bell said Envisio needed help breaking into the market and raising funds.

Envisio is now close to getting its final injection of seed capital 18 months after acquiring its key software.

The advice he received?

“Just keep it lean, less is more,” Bell said. “Prove out your concept before you spend a whole lot of money. And make sure there’s an accessible market.”

His advice for new startups is to understand their product and customers. “Understand the investors who understand your market space. Those are the ones you want to reach out to.”

The Centre4Growth hosts the boot-camp meet-ups across the province. In Surrey they’ve been held for the past six months at the Central City Brewing Company.

Participants who had registered to attend the last meet-up included an IT implementation specialist, a mobile app developer and a self-described YouTube expert.

They learned how to put ideas into practice, how to commercialize products and how to attract business capital.

Companies at different stages of development attend Think It, Build It, Grow It and Scale It boot camps, BCTIA’s president and CEO Bill Tam said.

He added that Centre4Growth’s primary focus is to help companies increase revenue faster.

“They might be a few hundred thousand to a million dollars in sales, and through a combination of resources that we can provide to them – that’s coaching, that’s best practices, it’s leadership development and it’s connections to customers and markets – we can help them accelerate the growth curve of their company to realize $5 million or $10 million in sales over a relatively short time.”

Tam said that over the past three years across B.C., the association has helped almost 400 companies to cumulatively realize more than $100 million in incremental revenue and investment.

He added that Surrey is one of B.C.’s fastest-developing communities in terms of entrepreneurship, and he’s noticed an “incredible onset” of people who are looking to start businesses there.

His advice to entrepreneurs: look to see to how you can build a global business, leverage community assets to help you get there faster and accept that it might take more time and money to happen. •