A group of 30 students from Grenoble Ecole of Management and Simon Fraser University who are participating in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program which started for the first time this year, were grateful to visit and discover GrowLab accelerator of Vancouver.
Charlyne Fothergill, program director of GrowLab showed dedication presenting the company. GrowLab is a start-up accelerator founded in 2011 that selects twice a year, 4 start-ups among three hundred applications through a very competitive selection process. Once selected, they provide the start-ups with a three-month mentorship, including resources and global network access. They say they ‘bring together the best and brightest entrepreneurs from the world and connect them with their global network of top tier investors, mentors and partners.’ The team of mentors is composed of five world-class “super angels” and is directed by Jonathan Bixby, giving their business full legitimacy and high potential for success.
Here is some relevant advice they gave us to integrate their accelerator. First, evaluate the readiness of your business among the actual market and the dedication of your team towards project. Then, a key question: would YOU invest in YOUR business now? If not, then apply again when you are can say yes to that question. Consider then what your biggest obstacle is. Don’t forget that accelerators can take equity stakes from your company.
Surprisingly, in Vancouver, accelerators seem to be more partners than competitors. When a start-up goes through the selection process but does not match Grow Lab assets and specificities, yet they are still noted to have a great potential, they don’t hesitate orientating the start-up towards more adapted accelerators.
After theory, we were told the personal experience of Jonathan Bixby, the actual CEO of the company. Originally the dunce of the class, he finally found his way through entrepreneurship after a road trip in Europe and Australia. Thanks to his considerable experience, he shared with us what he learnt: never work for anyone but yourself, emphasize your strategy on human resources management, go outside of your comfort zone and make your own experiences and create your business model in terms of margins. He insisted on human resources: measure output more than inputs because results matter more than the amount hours of work put in. Furthermore don’t waste your time with assholes, and always remember that at 90 years old you will only be concerned about your family and not your business, so don’t put your family aside for the company.
Two important questions came up from the group in response to his speech. A) What are the main sources of failure encountered by entrepreneurs? B) What do you consider to be promising businesses? He first answered that entrepreneurs leave behind marketing and sales and rely heavily on the product itself. Also, lack of trust in teams, is often a reason for a business to sink. He ended the presentation by telling us that mobile, system of records, business efficiency, Internet protocols, animal wearable technologies (biased), drones and 3D printing are key innovations for the future.
Written by Carole Attia, Julie Pichon and Caroline Prax