What if aspiring entrepreneurs had their very own “Dragon’s Den”-style panel that could review their business ideas, then provide an office space in which to implement them? That’s what entrepreneurs David Dueck and Michael Weston asked themselves before they decided to launch i-onCONNECT in 2017 in partnership with Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer Ernest Daddey. “The three had worked together on other companies, and it was an idea the three of them had. They thought the Lower Mainland needed a place where young, adventurous entrepreneurs and business owners who don’t have access to office space and tools could come,” says Kayte Gyles, Marketing and Communication Coordinator at i-onCONNECT.
The business offers two different services. The first is 26,000 square feet of event and co-working space, which includes boardrooms and meeting rooms that can be rented. There is also a 10,000-square-foot tech lab space. The second arm of the business is the incubator program where a team of engineers and marketers support inventors in developing their business ideas. “We’re trying to be like a tech hub in the Lower Mainland for inventors who are just starting out with a new project,” says Gyles.
While some local organizations offer co-working spaces, and others offer support for tech entrepreneurs, there aren’t a lot of places around Vancouver that offer both, says Kayte.
i-onCONNECT is creating quite a buzz in the tech community and among its employees. She says: “It’s really exciting being part of a start-up. Everybody who works here is so passionate about what they’re doing and the founders are so passionate about helping business owners in the Lower Mainland. They really want to help people and give them the tools that are necessary. We’re still starting out, but the potential to help businesses grow is really exciting.”