The day Owen Wolter set up shop a year ago in the Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator was memorable.
The twenty-something publisher of hot local online news site, windsorite.ca—stylized —was the latest young entrepreneurs to enter the DeskUP mentoring program for startups organized by WEtech Alliance.
The business Accelerator is an open concept where thirty small businesses share professional space and resources, so we had to find a way to accommodate Owen’s crackling police scanner.
We went from office to office trying to find a spot that would interrupt the least amount of people without luck.
And then we decided to convert the Accelerator’s small library—a separate space with floor-to-ceiling walls.
It was an old lesson for a new startup: persistence pays off and where there is a will there is a way.
Wolter spent eight months in the DeskUP program and the accelerator, taking advantage of many mentoring opportunities.
He worked hand-in-hand with Rob Whent—the Entrepreneur-in-Residence—and had an opportunity to test his business model and practice his pitch in front of the Regional Resource Roundtable WEtech organized, which consisted of a panel of business experts including the Senior Business Advisor from the Government of Ontario, the representative from the National Research Council, the Ontario Centres of Excellence and the offices of research and development at the University of Windsor and St. Clair College.
The critical turning point in the success of windsoriteDOTca came when the President of WEtech Alliance—Karen Plunkett—helped Wolter connect with the Centre for Enterprise and Law (CEL) at the University of Windsor, which led to $5000 in seed funding and access to additional mentors from the business school.
“Those eight months at WEtech were instrumental for the growth of windsoriteDOTca,” says Wolter. “The networking really helped us tap into different resources including CEL”.
“Perhaps of greatest importance were the lessons we learned about doing business, both negative and positive, during our time with WEtech at the Accelerator.” Wolter continued.
windsoriteDOTca now reaches over 100,000 unique visitors per month and has moved out of the Accelerator to take up office space in the trendy Walkerville area.
windsoriteDOTca has brought on new staff and is looking to grow again.
“It was a little scary at first moving out of the accelerator and going out on our own,” says Wolter. “But I knew we were ready.”
Looking around his modern second-floor office with hardwood floors and exposed brick, Wolter says he is proud of his journey and loves coming into work.
You barely even notice the crackling of the police scanner.
Dr. Irek Kusmierczyk is the Director of Robotics and Youth Programs at WEtech Alliance and the program manager for DeskUP. If you are interested in DeskUP, please contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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