Entrepreneurial activity at the Jersey Shore ramped up on January 9, 2013, when Cowerks, the coworking space in downtown Asbury Park, began hosting the first IncubateNYC bootcamp to take place in N.J.
The bootcamp — an intensive program held at Cowerks on Wednesday nights for five weeks — is aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs, allowing them to build, test and learn from prototypes of their product, technology or service.
One IncubateNYC founder is on-site each Wednesday, and the other bootcamp leaders are dialed in via Gotomeeting.com.
According to Bret Morgan, Jersey Shore Tech Meetup co-organizer and cofounder of Cowerks, DBL Systems and the e-commerce site Bands on a Budget, “The main point of this collaboration is to aid in the growth of startups right here in New Jersey.”
Cowerks and IncubateNYC were looking for first-time entrepreneurs with ideas they wanted to turn into a real business; experienced developers who wished they had moved a little faster because “someone else is now making money” from their last concept; those who started “working on an idea, but now it’s collecting dust on the shelf”; and entrepreneurs who were “working on an idea and want to make progress much faster,” said Morgan.
Morgan said the idea for the collaboration arose from Superstorm Sandy. Brian Shields of IncubateNYC was supposed to speak about why business models matter at a Jersey Shore Tech Meetup on Nov. 14, 2012, but couldn’t be there in person because Sandy had interrupted train service. The meetup, practicing what it preaches, decided to link up with Shields via Skype, which allowed him to speak and “save the day.”
The virtual meetup was well received, Morgan said, so he and Shields began kicking around the idea of doing a joint “virtual” event with the group at IncubateNYC. “We both like to move quickly, so we decided to launch the event and see what the response was.”
Morgan ended up filling the six available spots with coworkers at Cowerks and to Jersey Shore Tech Meetup regulars in about 48 hours.
The intensive program will culminate with the MVP [Minimum Viable Product] Fair, on Feb. 6, 2013, at 7 p.m., which is open to the public. Attendees will hear an elevator pitch from each entrepreneur and see the products in action. Participants will be able to get real-life feedback from attendees.
Morgan said he would like to host a more formal incubator/accelerator program in the Asbury Park area in the future, but he feels there is more community building to be done before that can occur. “Brad Feld, of TechStars fame, recently released a book called Startup Communities that outlines the process of building a ‘tech culture,’ ” Morgan said. He wants to follow some of that advice first.
Concluded Morgan, the shore area “definitely has the makings of something great. We just need to let it grow a bit.”