Last August I blogged about my ideas for a Co-working/techhub/start-up center.
Since then I have had lots of discussions on this topic with a wide variety of people. People who I hardly knew would come up to me at conferences, tweet-ups etc. and mention the blogpost. All feedback has been positive so far. Not a single person thought that it was a bad idea. Off course there were differences of opinion on how to build o center like this and how to run it but everybody thought that it was a great idea and that it would help start-up companies a great deal if they had a center like this available. However work pressure has prevented me from exploring the idea any further.
Then Dell in Limerick, Ireland announced that they were making 1900 employees redundant over the next 12 months. After discussing the news at our local Open Coffee Club meeting I posted an offer of help to these (soon to be ex-) Dell employees. An offer to assist them with advice and guidance if they were interested in starting their own business. The blogpost was picked up by the media and resulted in an interview on The Last Word show on Today FM radio. Since the radio-show I have received numerous calls and emails. A lot were from businesses & people offering help either for free or by offering discounts. But what I also got was a lot of calls from people from all over the country who were thinking about starting their own business but did not know what or how to take the first step. All this made it obvious to me that in spite of all the funding provided and work done by the various state-owned development bodies that it is still too difficult for someone to start their own business (or even examine the feasibility of their business idea).
It has become apparent to me that there is an inherent conflict in expecting a public sector body to stimulate private sector enterprise. The involvement of a public sector body in a private enterprise (a start-up in this case) brings along a large amount of bureaucracy and red tape. It’s simply a fact of life and not a negative reflection on the public sector. However the last thing a start-up entrepreneur needs if to become entangled in paperwork & red tape and any other activity that does not directly lead to product/service development or revenue.
So here’s my idea:
I would like to take one of the many vacant office buildings in this region and set up an business incubator. However this one would be an incubator with a difference
- Start-ups would have the option to pay rent like a “normal” tenant or if they are short on cash to agree to pay equity in lieu of rent for the first 12 months.
- Tenants will have to go through a “vetting” process similar to Seedcamp, Dragons Den etc. They will be vetted on the strength of their business plan and management team NOT on how well they can fill out forms.
- The primary goal of the incubator would be to let the entrepreneurs and start-ups concentrate on developing their business by removing all “non-essential” activities from their workload and offering them not only work space but also advice, guidance and hands-on participation if needed. We will not only tell you how to do it, we will also show you how to do it.
- The center will have ALL facilities neccessary. Not just a shared reception and meeting room but also good canteen facilities (real coffee), in-house postal service, courier drop-off & collection, storage facilities etc.
- IT services will be second to none.
- There will be in-house legal, accounting and investment services.
- There will be short term leases and hot-desking facilities available.
- Sufficient (free) parking for you, your employees and your customers.
- 24-hour access.
- Daily or weekly “Open Coffee Club” type meetings in a shared room in the center. This is an essential part of the center. You meet, you discuss and you share. No hiding away in your office and not talking to anyone.
So what do I need? Well I need you to contact me if you think that you can help me or want to become involved in some shape or form.
I also need a property developer with a vacant office building and a forward looking vision. If you know one point them in my direction.
I will be posting regular updates on my blog but also keep an eye out here for more info.