“Building a start-up is like having your first child,” says Rajeev Kugan, a new father and co-founder of an emerging start-up in the insurance technology (InsTech) space called ClientDesk. I am the other co-founder. Together, we are introducing something new which, we believe, will disrupt the insurance industry.
As entrepreneurs in the start-up space, being relatively “new parents” in the game, we needed all the support we could get. As a team we needed a space that would allow us to work with a community of like-minded, innovative individuals that are working towards building great companies – we found Ryerson’s DMZ was the best place for the team to start and to grow the company.
What is a Business Incubator?
A business incubator is a “home” for new companies and start-ups. It provides work space, training programs, advisory resources and funding opportunities to take start-up businesses to market.
According to the 2014 University Business Incubator (UBI) rankings, the DMZ is the #2 business incubator in North America, and #5 in the world. It is located in the heart of downtown Toronto. This allows us to attend all of the events hosted within the space, to mingle and meet potential clients and investors, and to receive advice from an extensive list of business experts. These advantages have helped us grow our start-up from just an idea to an early stage company with a product that is ready for market penetration.
A Day In the Life Of A Start-up
A start-up goes through multiple stages in its lifespan. From ideation to acceleration, growth depends on each decision made throughout the cycle. No decision is singular and as much as you may have doubts, you must move forward, Steve Jobs said it best, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
Within the idea stage, a founder focuses on brainstorming to ensure this idea is unique and solves a real problem. The entrepreneur must ensure that ideas are tested by what the lean methodology would refer to as “validated learning”.
Intense customer development is the key ingredient to help shape the “personality” or unique feature set of the product and company. It is the ONLY way to solve real problems. Pivots are natural during these stages as the entrepreneur is essentially finding himself by creating the company culture, values, and product roadmap during these initial stages.
Within a start-up, everyone in the team wears multiple hats, working with one another on many different aspects of the business, taking on many responsibilities. It is hard work with delayed gratification but it is worth knowing you are working towards a worthy cause. Building a solid core team is the cornerstone of success.
Where to from here?
Rajeev and I firmly believe that a strong team will dictate the formidability of the company. Lastly, as founders we must believe in ourselves and what we are working towards no matter what.
Newton Asare II is Chief Executive Officer of ClientDesk and Rajeev Kugan is the Chief Technology Officer. The ClientDesk is a Mobile-insurance-as-a-Service Platform that helps insurance companies and brokerages mobilize their operations and customer experience. Additional information is available at www.clientdesk.co
We met these gentlemen at Ryerson’s DMZ (thanks, Randy). It’s a really cool space. We thought you’d be interested in an inside view of the incubator and its residents.