It has been a year since we began the Startup Garage program hosted by the Technology Transfer Business Enterprise (TTBE) and our company has made giant strides since then.

When we first started Gnowit in October of 2010, we had nothing more than an idea. What we also had – and still do – is an overabundance of passion and enthusiasm. At that time, we were overly excited and we just could not wait bring our idea into reality through a successful product launch. Even though we did not have a proper business model, we truly believed our launch date was just around the corner. Little did we know we were in over our heads; my partner and I thought that if we had a technology that worked, the rest would come naturally. Boy, were we in for a surprise.

We did not truly realize how much dedication, hard work and investment (both time and money) would be needed to build a startup. It’s amazing how people can understand something intellectually but the reality of it is lost on them until they experience it for themselves. We read about how difficult it should be and it was only after we started shedding our proverbial blood, sweat and tears that it really hit us. For example, it took us about a month to actually realize that we do not have a business model. We were two guys with a great idea and a working technology but we lacked the understanding that those two elements alone would not make a business.

After being accepted into the Startup Garage program, we were given an office, an $18,000 grant, and mentorship for four months. What more could we ask for?

Thanks to the Startup Garage, we have been able to move towards our goals on several fronts. We were able to boost productivity and hire student interns. One of them in particular has become an indispensable member of the team and has now become our creative director. With the help of the mentors and workshops, we were able to understand what was needed to create a proper business model and truly focus on our go-to-market strategy. In the spirit of entrepreneurial collaboration, here is a presentation that summarizes some of what we learned on creating strong business models:

The ten elements of a strong business model
View more PowerPoint from Gnowit Inc

Of course, there are other resources to study to learn more about business models. Bruce Firestone’s blog, EQ Journal is a good place to start, also check out The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and Startup by Elizabeth Edwards.

All in all, we owe much of our success to the folks at the Technology Transfer Business Enterprise because by helping us understand the fundamentals of a successful business. In addition, by connecting us with the right mentors, we were able to prepare and align ourselves up to enter the market with a focused and strong entry.
I encourage any student entrepreneur based in Eastern Ontario to apply to this program because I am sure that it will help them as much as it helped us.

Finally, I wholeheartedly wish to congratulate the winners of this year’s Startup Garage program. I can’t wait to see them shine brighter and brighter.

To: Spoonity, Proximify, Remay,, Sebertech, Campus Tech, Pic One and Simple Task

Congratulations and enjoy the ride!