Just over a year ago the ventureLAB team embarked on a bold public/private partnership of purpose with IBM Canada and the City of Markham to create a global first innovation community inside IBM Canada Headquarters here in Markham, ON.
ventureLAB acts as the Creative Director for this amazing clubhouse for entrepreneurs, the IBM Innovation Space – Markham Convergence Centre! We have just under 30,000 square feet of dedicated accelerator space with some 240+ tenants coming to work here each day in support of building the Markham and York Region scale up community. Our partners include York University, Seneca College, Markham Board of Trade, Markham Small Business Centre, TechConnex, York Angel Investors, Ontario Centres of Excellence, the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) all leaning in to help support a growing community of great scale up companies.
Now, a few months into year two of directing the IBM Innovation Space – Markham Convergence Centre, I can say with absolute certainty, this space is working.
Recently, a story came to my attention about one of our Venture Services companies, Audiit. Like many entrepreneurs, co-founder Vladimir Urbanovich started his company when he identified a problem he was experiencing and decided to do something about it.
Working as a project management consultant for capital projects, he discovered that the standard tracking software didn’t track changes made to project plans. This resulted in budget overages and safety issues, just to name a few. To solve this problem, he co-founded Audiit Business Solutions and began to develop a software platform.
The eager company rented a local office space, but it offered no more than four walls and some meeting rooms. The team felt unguided, hoping for insights and ideas to grow their business, but the rental lacked a sense of community.
I myself faced this challenge years ago when I was developing a company out of my garage in Kingston. I didn’t know which resources were available, how to find them or how to take advantage of them. If you know me, you know that I bang this drum often; the importance of community-led supports and services that growing globally competitive companies is as serious as a heart attack, which is why I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished in just over one year at the IBM – MCC.
We are closing the gap.
The Audiit team felt as though they could be working harder and faster, if they could just spend more time focusing on developing their new software and business partnerships. Instead, they were spending hours upon hours trying to determine whether a certain program would be a good fit for their company. This truly resonates with me because I know that our extended innovation community is capable of so much more support for growing companies.
In August of 2017, the Audiit team moved into our innovation hub and began working closely with ventureLAB’s Venture Services team.
Because Audiit was physically closer to the abundant entrepreneur supports in Markham and York Region, the company began scaling rapidly, welcoming both a strategic advisor and executive advisor through connections made at ventureLAB.
By working in this space, Vladimir confidently states that the company has “achieved more in the last six months than the last three years,” and he has high aspirations for the months ahead.
The Audiit team have also discovered the benefits of being in a space with other innovative entrepreneurs, finding supports and collaborations through the challenges of growing a business. Another company in the hub, Hyperion Sensors, has supported Audiit through funding application processes and day-to-day challenges. Audiit also developed a strategic partnership with InField Clipboard, a complimentary tech company that takes up residence one table over in the large sunlit atrium.
Audiit’s success is a prime example of what ventureLAB wants to achieve in Markham and York Region. By empowering seasoned and new tech companies to partner and co-mentor, ventureLAB cultivates a self-sustaining ecosystem of innovation right here at home.
It is especially stories like these that continue to validate the hard work the ventureLAB team does to support entrepreneurs.