When Freeds of Windsor heard about two new programs developed by WEtech Alliance that support young startup entrepreneurs in Windsor and Essex, the 83-year-old local clothing store jumped at the chance to dress the first batch of entrepreneurs for success by providing complimentary business attire.
“It’s what we want to see, a new generation of business owners exuding confidence and professionalism, ready to make their mark on our city,” says owner Ari Freed. “I think they look sharp.”
WEtech, one of fourteen Regional Innovation Centres accross the province of Ontario, recently launched two new programs for startups.
DeskUP provides recent post-secondary graduates with subsidized office space, a computer and business amenities in the Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator including mentoring and entrepreneurial workshops, while VentureStart provides up to $30,000 in startup funding for graduates of science, technology, engineering or mathematics programs.
The significance of the gesture by Freeds was not lost on the DeskUP entrepreneurs.
“It’s great to see a successful local business, with the history and longevity that Freeds has, supporting young entrepreneurs,” says Tellbob President Dan Renaud. “And let’s face it, nothing beats walking into a sales meeting in a great suit.”
Tellbob is an innovative company that collects real-time customer satisfaction information using smart phones at the store or event. Each time a person does a Tellbob survey, they get instant rewards sent to them that they can trade with their friends in Facebook.
Across the hall from Tellbob in the Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator is Shally Lakshminarayan, one of the first DeskUP entrepreneurs. Her company, Psychotherapy of Windsor, provides online psychological counseling services.
“It’s encouraging to know that local organizations like WEtech and Freeds are there contributing to our success,” says Lakshminarayan. “We feel part of the business community in Windsor”.
“I’ve never heard of successful entrepreneurs going solo,” says Karen Behune Plunkett, President of WEtech. “Our entrepreneurs are the key to our region’s economy and we want them to know they have the entire city behind them. Freeds stepped up”.
Dr. Indrajit Sinha is the first entrepreneur accepted into the VentureStart program. His company, BIOMEDCORE, designs medical devices that enable personalized drug sensitivity testing of cancer tumors that allows doctors to match their patients with the right drug.
“Without the advice and support of WEtech, we would have never come this far,” says Dr. Sinha. “Having access to early-stage funding such as VentureStart is immensely valuable for a startup such as BIOMEDCORE.”
WEtech is taking applications for VentureStart and DeskUp. Contact Irek Kusmierczyk at WEtech Alliance: firstname.lastname@example.org or 519.997.2863