|Entrepreneurial Vision Leads to Successful Venture
Entrepreneurs typically begin their ventures with a product concept. Steve Taylor and his company IDBLUE had a very different genesis. Steve got together with three students at Memorial University with no product idea at all – just the drive and desire to start a business.
“In 2001, during my sixth term in engineering at Memorial University, a friend Colin Power and I were working on a robotics project,” says Steve. “I turned to him and said that we should start a company. He looked at me and replied that he was thinking the exact same thing. We enlisted two more students and got started.”
It was significant that the team had complementary skills – some focused on business, others on engineering – and studied in an environment that nurtured innovation. Memorial University had just opened an incubation centre to promote collaboration and entrepreneurial thinking. Steve’s group was able to access equipment and machinery while connecting with like-minded students and supportive faculty.
“To find a product idea, we did research and came upon RFID (radio-frequency identification),” explains Steve. “RFID is a wireless asset and tracking technology where an asset can be tagged in a way that is unique and highly secure, unlike barcodes, which can be easily copied and damaged. Each RFID tag is exclusive to an individual product, allowing tracking throughout the product’s life. We identified gaps in the existing RFID product lines that we could fill.”
From there, Steve and the team developed their flagship product IDBLUE, a handheld, lightweight, rugged tracking devise using RFID to record and transmit product information through mobile technology, like iPhones and tablets. A unique product is necessary to stand out in a cluttered and competitive high-tech marketplace. In IDBLUE’s case, not only is their product different from all of the others, it’s a high-quality, well-designed, effective and versatile solution.
“My perspective on success and growth from the beginning has been for us to act like the company we want to be,” says Steve. “That goal keeps us striving for improvement and new ideas. We are constantly looking to understand the future of our marketplace, thinking outside the box and going beyond our comfort zones.”
Another strong influence on Steve was his experience at Shad Valley. With a focus on science, technology and entrepreneurship, the program demonstrates how the fusion of these disciplines leads to infinite possibilities for innovation. Exposure to other highly motivated and talented students also creates a dynamic environment that develops leadership and management skills.
“The Shad Valley program surrounded me with tremendous teachers and students with different perspectives. That opened my eyes to new ways of doing things and to how innovation can inspire a career,” Steve explains. “What I have found is that being an entrepreneur is exciting because I can turn a vision into a reality – into a tangible product. The first time I saw our product in a client’s hand was a great moment.”
IDBLUE has been successful in securing funding, including government grants and private-sector support, to grow their business. These investments have enabled the team to focus on research, develop a world-class product and expand to a global customer base, becoming a leader in their field. Getting the funding, however, wasn’t easy.
“There is a massive amount of time involved in getting funding. Sometimes the process detracts from developing a new business and its products,” Steve says. “Entrepreneurial ventures create lots of jobs and are an important source of innovation. The easier and less time consuming it is to access funding, the greater the boon to the Canadian economy. My hope is that this process becomes easier for future entrepreneurs.”