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Coquitlam group looks to give a boost to technology entrepreneurs
A future Steve Jobs could be working away in a Coquitlam garage right now developing the Next Big Thing and Jason Carvalho wants to find that person and make them the next digital superstar.
The digital marketing specialist said Coquitlam is ripe for the development of a startup accelerator, where entrepreneurs and investors could come together to create internet startups in areas such as e-commerce, mobile platforms and gaming apps.
"We want to build a local ecosystem that provides access to global mentors, funding and expertise to develop our high tech startup community," Carvalho told The Tri-City News in a recent interview.
Collaborating with three other business professionals with start-up experience, Carvalho and his team have established a website and are meeting the last Tuesday of every month at various Coquitlam locations, including city hall and the library.
Carvalho isn't new to this growing medium for business development.
Named one of Business in Vancouver's Top 40 under 40 people to watch in 2012, he cut his teeth on startups, ranging from the software security company ParetoLogic to the online custom apparel company Indochino. Carvalho has created two online companies of his own — a peer-to peer lending company called Fortuno he sold to an Australian investor and MarilynJean, which sells baby products online.
The experience he has gained has taught him how to get investment capital through government grants, "angel" investors and venture capitalists, as well as the importance of designing a superior user experience and gaining customers through digital marketing and analysis.
He currently donates 10% of his time to mentoring business owners and has been an advisor to several companies, including Launch Academy, a Vancouver based startup incubator. He's also working with a team of app developers on what he calls a "disruptive idea," an app that helps people remember their dreams (www.discovershadow.com), for which he obtained $80,000 in Kickstarter funding last October.
Although new to the Tri-Cities, Carvalho said he believes there are probably dozens of people in the area who are making apps, experimenting with e-commerce, new software and other online businesses that could benefit from advice and help to get their startup to the next stage. He's looking for 10 applicants to the new startup incubator.
"If you are a young entrepreneur, you don't know where to start because you are focusing on developing your product," he said.
And Carvalho believes there is no time like the present because B.C.'s high-tech sector is booming, with 84,000 jobs paying 60% more than the average salary. As well, B.C. remains the top place to invest for acquisitive digital companies looking for the next best thing, he said, noting more B.C. companies were purchased by U.S. corporations than in any other province: 76% compared to 65% in Ontario and 56% in Quebec.
He also believes the region's immigrant population could also provide some of the entrepreneurial know-how, and the cities should capitalize on the federal government's startup visa for entrepreneurs and their families to attract more high-tech people here.
• To find out more, email Carvalho at firstname.lastname@example.org.