Incubation program to nurture start-up firms

IBM Canada Inc. and Exclamation Inc. are building a joint shelter in which to nurture and feed young Web start-up firms.

The companies will review a select group of start-up business plans for their newly-launched incubation program. Proposals will be generated from within Exclamation, as well as submitted from outside entrepreneurs. The final plans will receive funding, technology infrastructure, general management and technology management support, as well as joint marketing assistance.

“We were looking for a technology partner. IBM is a leader in the technology world everywhere,” said Christopher Barnard, president of Toronto-based Exclamation. “They were our first choice.”

According to Stephane Boisvert, business unit executive of IBM Canada’s Net.Generation Business, “It’s a great way for [IBM] to work with companies at the early start. Under the coaching and supervision of the incubators, incubatees could be more successful than just starting on their own.

“They’re given coaching and admin services. A new company will be there for approximately four to eight months, and as their skills grow, they exit the incubation process and usually have a sustainable business model.”

IBM Canada has agreed to provide the hardware and software necessary to support the start-up companies, as well as technology management assistance. They will supply all of the technology services, such as e-business consulting, application design, development and implementation services.

Three companies Exclamation has already worked with –,, and – will be the first participants in the joint IBM-Exclamation program.

“Exclamation has been there since the idea came to me. There’s professional support, moral support, and there are times as an entrepreneur you just need someone to talk to because things aren’t going right. You need someone who’s had business experience in other areas,” said Rochelle Mathias, president and founder of, a business-to-business company that sells office products over the Internet.

Exclamation’s role in the incubation program is to review and supply business plans. They make a capital investment in the company and they also provide general management assistance.

Mathias said she is extremely happy with the involvement of both companies.

“[IBM has] done a lot for us. They make available hardware, software and services to us, at a great rate. They’ve been phenomenal,” she said.

Mathias’ feels her business has been a success thus far. “Customers that use it love If we can get a customer to use the site two or three times, we find they become loyal to us. As they use the site, [the system] becomes more and more intuitive, and it makes it harder for them to go elsewhere.

“The opportunity has been phenomenal,” Mathias said. “Never before in the history of the world has there been opportunities like this, where young people with good ideas get a chance to test them out.”