In part I of this interview with Owen Matthews, co-founder of Alacrity, we asked him about the origins of the foundation and the vision behind it. In part II, we discuss where the foundation is headed.
Building on Experience
Using a unique model, Alacrity leverages its network of advisors, mentors, and partners to identify gaps in the market. By founding and / or helping secure funding for companies that fill these gaps, Alacrity is able to provide value to both the company and the investor, ensuring a higher than normal rate of business success.
There are two programs operating under the Alacrity banner designed to serve a very different group of business people.
“Through the Entrepreneurship program, we typically work with people to create businesses that are based on some known and quantifiable customer demand that has been clearly identified in the marketplace. We work with our larger portfolio companies to understand what is happening in the market worldwide, and we focus on developing solutions to meet those identified market pain opportunities. We are very practical in this approach, and this is a major reason why we have such a great success rate.
In contrast, the Investor Readiness program works with entrepreneurs whose companies are already established, but are seeking mentorship and guidance to continue developing their business and preparing it for investment. The focus of this program is on attracting capital from investors globally. Long-term goals aim to make the process repeatable and evergreen.
We want to build on our portfolio companies successes to support more entrepreneurs and fund our further success.”
Alacrity’s efforts have provided critical benefits to the teams and companies that the foundation supports, the most important of which is being able to share invaluable knowledge and experience.
“In most cases, Alacrity companies are led by first time entrepreneurs. As a result, they have not yet acquired the experience needed to know how to best spend the time and money required to most effectively drive growth in the company. We offer the companies mentorship and access to the experience to help them manage a business through growth and the resulting steep learning curves growth brings as some things can be counter-intuitive. We provide member companies with experience in ways they would not typically receive. The combined experience of the various Alacrity team members has a huge impact on the companies. When building their first company an entrepreneur is normally pretty much on their own. But with Alacrity as a partner, the entrepreneur has an established organization behind them to provide support and help mitigate risks.”
Advice and strategies to help mitigate risk are among the key benefits that Alacrity program participants receive.
Building Thriving Localized Tech Centres
The success of the Alacrity Foundation is evident when looking at what it has been able to accomplish since it was founded in 2009.
“We took a handful of university graduates and helped them become CEOs of companies that currently employ more than 100 people locally. These are high-paid, good quality IT jobs that have been retained in Victoria and Vancouver instead of becoming part of the brain-drain that typically occurs as local IT companies develop. The entrepreneurs stayed here, built companies here, and now attract talent to the local community and economy. The long-term ROI to the community of retaining these entrepreneurs and their companies locally is immeasurable.”
Being able to create significant local opportunities has been a defining value and benefit of the contribution Alacrity makes and it is an important component of local economic development that the foundation has pursued doggedly since its establishment. Partner support, coupled with success in the model and an increased recognition of this success, has encouraged Alacrity to evolve beyond Western Canada. The success of the model has been repeated in a similar program in the UK and about to be repeated in other areas globally.
“Our initial focus was on creating companies and teaching people how to manage risk in a start-up. As Alacrity has matured, we have broadened our scope beyond just participating in companies that we were forming ourselves. We continue to mentor and assist businesses through various phases of corporate development, but we now also invest considerable resources and effort into developing extensive relationships with potential venture partners globally with the goal of helping companies attract new business opportunities and the interest of optimal funding partners. With the Investor Readiness program, we are also providing value outside of our immediate founding teams and thus have a much broader impact than when we started.”
Owen and all of the Alacrity team members are dedicated to establishing strong, evergreen tech ecosystems that support entrepreneurs and investors.