Rogers has just announced that they are strengthening their strategic relationship with Vancouver-based wireless technologies accelerator Wavefront with a $4 million funding commitment.
Over the last three years Rogers and Wavefront have teamed up to help numerous entrepreneurs develop ideas that run on wireless carriers, including mobile, machine-to-machine and Internet of things-based innovations.
“This is really the continuation of that partnership,” said Mansell Nelson, the vice president of products and services at Rogers.
Nelson adds that the partnership will add to Wavefront’s efforts in molding ideas and innovations to fit within Rogers’ framework. Aside from providing investment capital, Rogers has also committed to continue providing mentorship support to members of the accelerator program.
“One of the things that we’ve found has been really successful through the mentoring program is getting these folks ready to work with a carrier,” he said. “Some of their visions are not aligned with the real world, so it’s about harnessing that entrepreneurial vision to help them become a commercial or viable success.”
The announcement comes only a few weeks after the launch of Rogers Ignite, the first innovations departments at a major Canadian telecommunications company. Previously, entrepreneurs had to jump through hoops in order to get their idea into the hands of the right person within the organization, but the new department will accept and consider a wide range of ideas from entrepreneurs.
According to Nelson, Rogers will now be able to refer some of the ideas that come by way of the Ignite program to Wavefront for further development.
“Ignite isn’t a development centre, it’s meant to be a way for people to get their good ideas to Rogers,” he said. “We think there is going to be a role for Wavefront if it (the idea) is not quite ready for commercialization.”
According to Brad Lowe, vice president of venture acceleration operations for Wavefront, the financial investment as well as mentorship opportunities will go a long way in helping entrepreneurs turn their ideas into market-ready products.
“Rogers has always looked outside of their traditional business for new and interesting business opportunities and revenue streams,” he said,
Lowe adds that partnering with Rogers has significantly accelerated the growth and development of the startups it supports.
“To have Rogers on your side and potentially be in the Rogers playbook of companies that they want to promote to their customers, that’s a great starting point,” he said. “Being able to integrate your technology or your company’s technology into a Rogers offering, or be part of their overall solution, that gives you the ability to immediately scale from the basement to the nation-wide reach that Rogers has.”
When presenting their ideas to Rogers Ignite or Wavefront, Lowe advises entrepreneurs to consider the real-world problem the their innovation attempts to solve, as well as strategies for developing that idea into a viable product.
“You’ve got to prove the short-term business value and the larger, more exponential strategic business value of what you’re doing,” he said. “You need to understand how it goes beyond the technology and be able to clearly state the business value proposition.”