Bellingham Innovation Group seeks to help small tech companies

The Bellingham Business Journal

A new organization in Bellingham has some big ideas to help small businesses gain a foothold in the technology sector.

Bellingham Innovation Group (BIG) Idea Lab plans to help foster local startups in the technology sector by providing business advising and office space in the former Room2Think space at 114 E. Chestnut St. with no upfront costs for accepted startups.

“What we’ve set out to create is a nurturing environment for early-stage, lean, profitable, technology-oriented ideas to get off the ground. This is not a new idea, but it is something unique to our area,” BIG Idea Lab president Shawn Kemp said in a news release. “Our aim is to help create a vibrant community of innovators who are building profitable businesses out of great ideas.”

The process will work as such: entrepreneurs with an idea for a startup business can apply to the BIG Idea Lab. Then the company’s 13 shareholders will review the application and if more than half of the group’s members vote in favor of supporting the project, it will be accepted as a provisional venture.

Accepted entrepreneurs will then have up to two months to put together a business model and presentation to attain full venture status. Startups must be able to secure funding on their own, as the Idea Lab will not be providing funding.

“Once an idea has been granted venture status, the team will have access to a wide variety of resources for a period of two years, all of which are aimed to help the idea become a profitable, sustainable business,” said Kemp, who has worked with technology startups as an Angel investor. “We’re interested in business ideas and solutions that are going to be around for a while.”

Accepted ventures will be required to provide the Lab with an equity ownership stake and 2.5 percent of gross revenues. This will provide the capital necessary to continue operating the Idea Lab.

To launch the new business accelerator, BIG Idea Lab is preparing a Speed Geek event at 5 p.m. Oct. 6. It will include an opportunity for eight startup presenters to share their ideas with local investors, professionals and like-minded individuals in brief, 10-minute segments. DIS Corporation will host the event at its offices, at 1315 Cornwall Ave. in downtown Bellingham.

“It is my belief that, if successful, the BIG Idea Lab will help create at least a dozen new ventures, employing hundreds of people, and contributing millions in revenue back into our local economy over the next decade,” Kemp said.

For more information on Bellingham Innovation Group, visit www.bellinghaminnovationgroup.com.

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