The MBET Experience

The University of Waterloo – Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Program

The MBET Experience header image 2

Celebration of CBET – Grand Opening in the Accelerator Centre

March 6th, 2007 · No Comments

I’m a little late with this post, but over reading week, the home of the MBET program, CBET (Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology) was moved from Needles Hall to the Accelerator Centre. The contrast is striking – Needles Hall is a typical old University of Waterloo building (and architecture is certainly not the source of its strong reputation), while the Accelerator Centre is a brand new, state of the art, business incubation centre.

Last Monday, the Spirited Investors Corporation sponsored a Celebration of CBET event to mark the opening of our new facility. Rick Baker, the founder of Spirited Investors, arranged for David Thomson, the author of Blueprint To A Billion, to be the keynote speaker. Other speakers included David Johnston, President of UW, and Dave Caputo, the founder of Sandvine Inc, a local high-tech company.

David Thomson’s Blueprint To A Billion book was based on reseach he conducted over a number of years to determine if there was a pattern that could be found in high-growth businesses. An interesting point he made was that revenue growth is the most difficult line item for management to achieve. He found that companies with compounding revenue growth typically hit an inflection point at $50 million in sales, and from there, went to $1 billion in 4, 6, or 12 years.

Thompson outlined 7 essentials to achieving the required “escape velocity” to reach $1 billion:

  1. Breakthrough Value Proposition
    The key point here was that you don’t need to create a new market – many companies achieved $1 billion by redefining or optimizing a market.
  2. High Growth Market Segments
    Another interesting point – most companies grow in mature markets, not emerging ones. A portfolio of products is vital to achieving $1 billion in sales.
  3. Marquee Customers
    Use big-name customers to test your product and help sell to other customers.
  4. Big Brother Alliances
    The big brothers can help you out – see Microsoft and IBM, eBay and AOL.
  5. Exponential Returns
    Get cash flow positive early, and scale up your cash flow positive idea.
  6. Inside-Outside Leadership
    Having a dynamic duo makes a big difference in the success of the business.
  7. Essential Experts
    Ensure you have the people you need to succeed on your board.

In the companies Thomson studied that went to a billion, over 90% of them had 5 or more of these essentials in place. One of the good points he made in the question period was that to maintain exponential growth, it is important to do things today that will benefit you tomorrow. This is a key point to remember in order to ensure that you don’t lose sight of the long term goals of the company. It was definitely an informative talk and I look forward to reading the book.

All in all, the Celebration of CBET was a great event. Over 200 local business people attended the event, giving us MBET students an excellent opportunity to network and show off our projects. James and I have been working on our new company, HealthSpoke, and we had the chance to create and display a poster describing our business at the event. It was a great opportunity for us to gain some attention from potential partners and investors! I’m looking forward to the rest of the year at the Accelerator Centre!

Tags: Uncategorized