At Planet Hatch. Cody Peters Photo.

INSIDE THE IDEA FACTORY

BY CODY PETERS

When you enter Planet Hatch you’re welcomed by an open door, bright polka dot carpets on the floor, light pouring through windows on every wall, and the strong aroma of fresh brewed coffee. There aren’t any traditional cloth-covered cubicles, instead offices with glass walls give the building an airy feel.

In one corner, people sit around a circle of desks and listen to a woman give a speech. On the other side of the office people sit at desks deeply indulged in their computers, only to look up if someone passes by.

Planet Hatch, located in Fredericton New Brunswick, is an idea factory. It’s an accelerator company that helps local entrepreneurs and investors.

The term accelerator and incubator programs are now common, but for people that aren’t involved in the entrepreneurial world, these words may sound like useless jargon.

Accelerators and Incubators work together to support entrepreneurs develop a foundation for their business through networking and collaboration. Incubators offer a professional space for small start ups to work, gain advice, and seek out funding for their ideas.

“We aim to provide programming, provide support through mentorship, and we provide a really cool collaborative co-working space for our start ups who are in the ideation and validation stage of starting a business to be able to grow. So we want to inspire them, support them, and help them grown their companies,” said Lisa Kinney, Planet Hatches Entrepreneurial Services Coordinator.

Planet Hatch brings in start ups that are at the idea stage, and works with them through mentorship programs and networking to get them to a more fully functioning stage.

The centre offers several programs and opportunities for local entrepreneurs to meet with people in the industry. Whether it’s a networking event, talking one-on-one with someone, or using office space, entrepreneurs are completely immersed in the business culture as soon as they walk through the door.

“This is our tenants space, its co-working collaborative, so that means that you just bring in your laptop and plug in. It’s hot desk seating, so every day you come in you may sit somewhere else,” said Kinney, “it’s a really nice way to collaborate. This model has been duplicated and replicated by several other accelerators.”

Mentors are a big part of the accelerators plan to help people get their businesses in motion. Rivers Corbett is a local entrepreneur that mentors at Planet Hatch and is a self proclaim “entrepreneur junkie”.

“I’ve been hanging out in the entrepreneurial space for over 20 years. I’ve had my own businesses, still have my own businesses, I mentor a lot, I coach a lot, my charity of choice is just to help entrepreneurs start their businesses and get them off on a solid foundation forward,” said Corbett.

Planet Hatch originally was focused on the tech start up industry, but over the past year has extended their reach to any and all business ideas.

“When Planet Hatch was initially started it was focused on the tech, IT, start ups. In the past year we have expanded our services to the broader community, so to anyone from local artists to any start up,” said Kinney, “we want to make our doors open and welcoming, anyone is available to use our space to access our services.”

Along with local entrepreneurs, they also focus heavily on international investors that are looking to set up business, or expand current businesses, in Fredericton.

The Hive is an incubator and business immigrant mentorship program with an office connected to Planet Hatch. The companies work together to help immigrant integrate into the start up ecosystem in Fredericton.

“We’re funded directly by the province of New Brunswick, through the population growth division, and our mandate is to support immigrant investors coming in to the province looking to start up business,” said Janet Moser, the director of The Hive.

Moser says it’s very difficult for local people to navigate the “convoluted” system of starting a business, and it’s much more difficult for those who are new to the local culture, economy, tax system and language.

“We provide a safe home if you will, office environment, programs that allow them to feel like they have been welcomed, not only in to our community, but our business ecosystem.”

The two companies host a weekly coffee chat networking event for immigrant investors and local entrepreneurs.

Planet Hatch is collaborating with everyone in the entrepreneurial ecosystem around Fredericton to develop what the call the subway system.

The system will allow everyone to know what an entrepreneur has done so far. This will prevent companies from telling the entrepreneur to do the same things he has already done in the past.

Mike Mazerolle is a business start up specialist at Ignite Fredericton, a community economic development organization.

“I may talk to an entrepreneur and say ‘hey you do this, this, and this,’ not knowing that they already did this and this because they talked to so and so before hand,” said Mazerolle, “that’ll make sure that doesn’t happen, there’s no duplication in program offerings that way because everyone is on the same page and knows what everyone is doing.”

This system will also help companies coordinate courses that they offer, so there is no duplication what they are offering.