Originally posted by The Windsor Star
Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator CEO Arthur Barbut said the societal changes created by the COVID-19 pandemic are creating opportunities for the area to shed its reputation as one of the least entrepreneurial regions in the province.
“Given the loss of the third shift, the economic shutdown and college and university graduates looking for opportunities, if not now when?” Barbut said.
“They may have gone to Toronto in the past, but Toronto is having the same problem. This is the best time to do it in Windsor.
“We’re the best value and we have an advantage no one else has in Detroit next door.”
To capitalize on the momentum of change, the Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator is launching a campaign this week highlighting how important entrepreneurship is going to be to the region’s economic recovery.
The campaign will come complete with a video sharing some of the success stories, new businesses being launched and the supports the accelerator can offer.
We have a history of making things,” Barbut said.
“The Detroit Three came here and we were happy to work for someone else. We have to change the culture, the mindset in Windsor-Essex.”
Colin McMahon and his brother Michael have taken advantage of the accelerator’s support and knowledge to launch their concept called Choreseek (choreseek.com).
The online platform allows people to post jobs or offer services and claims to be the fastest way to get things done by people wanting to do things.
The service allows someone to post a request and wait for bids on the job to come in. The registered users are pre-vetted and payment can take place online with direct deposits.
“I like to solve problems and create solutions,” Colin McMahon said of his attraction to entrepreneurship. “This is the biggest problem I thought I could solve.”
McMahon believes if people have better access to knowing what work is available, who is available to do it and give people more flexibility about how and when they want to work, it will reduce the number of people needing government supports.
“If you have that, you create a more equal playing field,” McMahon said. “Everyone has access to work. Society in general benefits.”
Currently there are 700 clients registered and 170 service providers.
Those seeking work will pay a small monthly fee of $5 while those offering work will pay three per cent of the total job cost and a $2 job fee. For a limited time, the monthly job fee is being waived.
“The accelerator has been a godsend,” McMahon said. “The mentality behind being an entrepreneur is difficult.
“The accelerator is filled with people who understand what you’re going through. You help them, they help you.
“The accelerator also has pipelines to people who have or know how to build a business from the ground up.”
McMahon said for Windsor to become more entrepreneurial — outside of manufacturing and agricultural — there’s a need for more systemic support and training.
“We don’t have the entire supply chain necessary to develop minimally viable products,” McMahon said. “There’s a disconnect there.
“There’s business support once your ready to go, but not enough in product testing and getting to that point.”
However, both McMahon and Barbut said the region has a growing pool of entrepreneurial talent and ideas to draw on.
Barbut said last year 87 per cent of the 200 to 300 students taking high school entrepreneurship courses said they’d consider starting their own business or working for a start-up compared to 20 per cent seven years ago.
“Entrepreneurship is going to become a necessity,” Barbut said. “People are going to have to create their own opportunities. No big company is going to come and rescue you.”