The soup bone quote from Gair Maxwell in this column today about the launch of a youth entrepreneur program.
It seems to be a reality TV kind of program backed by the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.
It’s about playing in a YouTube world,” said Gair Maxwell, a consultant that works with PropertyGuys.com. “Where else are we going to find young entrepreneurs?” The winner will be picked by some of the stars from CBC’s hit business-pitch reality TV show Dragon’s Den including Arlene Dickinson, Jim Treliving and Brett Wilson. The top prize is a free PropertyGuys.com franchise in the market of his or her choice, valued at $50,000. The company has 120 franchisees spread across all 10 provinces. The winner will also get a free cellphone plan with Rogers and free advertising in the National Post.
I like the idea and it’s great to see this kind of thing based in New Brunswick but you know my feeling about entrepreneurship – particularly IT and technology entrepreneurship.
A few years ago I took a high level look at most of the successful IT start ups in New Brunswick. The vast majority – something like 80% had leadership (VP, CEO level) that had cut their teeth with a large tech firm like NBTel, Nortel, etc.
It’s the same story eleswhere in North America.
It is true that on occasion someone creates something trulyremarkable in their basement while in university and goes on to become a gazillionaire. We all know the stories. Funny thing is that even those guys end up partnering up with folks with middle or senior management in large technology firms.
So, to answer Gair in his search for young entrepreneurs. They are right now in low or mid-level positions in Canada’s large telecom and technology firms. They are sitting inside large manufacturing firms frustrated with the bureacracy and looking to break free. They are annoyed financial planners working for a Big 5 thinking about starting their own business. And where are all these large technology, manufacturing, finance, telecom, etc. firms located? Not here.
I am very supportive of young entrepreneurship but I think that for most people five or more years inside a larger firm will hone their skills and mature them to a better point for starting a business.
So good luck to Gair and the folks pulling this together. It sounds like fun.
When we are thinking about public policy and entrepreneurship let’s base our approach on realities.