RH Accelerator helps small businesses gain city support

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RH Accelerator and other groups are helping to support small businesses grow London's economy.

London introduces a new incubator for start-up growth stage companies this month in the form of Roundhouse (RH) Accelerator.

rTraction works as a digital company from within the Roundhouse on Horton Street that helps its customers with the tech-savvy problems they are facing, and to help those changes make a long lasting impact. The company is now working towards supporting small businesses around the London area to become known and get their name out there.

“We kept hearing from the investing community that there weren't enough quality set-ups in London,” David Billson, co-founder of RH Accelerator and president of rTraction, said. “I've been running a business here for twenty years and know that there are some great companies doing some amazing things here. We thought maybe the ways to solve that problem was by creating a firm that gets more experience for the start-up growth stage companies with some senior level mentorship and support to make it easier to put those companies in front of the investment community and say we have something here in our hometown that I think we should invest in. Where as previously, investors had to do their own due diligence and take risks on their own.”

The firm will be housing the companies being supported by the initiative starting this month where they will get mentoring, networking and funding to help solve the barriers that have kept them from growing further. In the end, Billson said that the Accelerator's main goal “is to work with the start-up growth stage community and get lower risk opportunities in front of the investors”.

According an Aug. 30 article by The London Free Press, the Accelerator will only make income as the companies they support grow. No growth equals no income, giving the team even more incentive to help develop more growth for these new business.

The business has taken on three high-tech firms: Factory Bucket, a software company for the manufacturing industry, Curling Zone, who creates analytic data for a sports entertainment site around curling, and VisitorQueue, whose software keeps track of the foot-traffic through a company's website. Billson also confirmed that the company is already looking at supporting other small businesses outside the tech industry.

According to Billson, supporting small businesses helps bring and keep income in the local community.

“The more that we see investments and economic growth here in London companies, instead of investing money let's say into the stock markets, when those dollars come into the community they help grow talent and expertise,” Billson said, “it creates an ecosystem where people come up with good ideas, prototype them, then get them ultimately funded developed in our community, versus having those activities happen in other ones.”

When asked about whether or not students should also keep an eye out for jobs in small businesses or entrepreneurial opportunities, Billson stated, “I think that for the long term, jobs working for large multinational corporations and high-end opportunities are still going to be there, but that won't be the only career path available to students. Figuring out the relations between entrepreneurialism and small businesses is definitely where a lot of future opportunities are for students these days.”

While Roundhouse Accelerator focuses on the growth of small companies already with a toe dipped into the industry, other incubators such as LEAP Junction at the main campus of Fanshawe College, work with those in the hatching stages.

David Ouellette, community outreach coordinator for LEAP Junction, said that students interested should take advantage of what LEAP has to offer.

“I would say anyone who is thinking, or pretty much inquiring, into the idea of you may wanting to start a business, but you don't have an idea yet, there is a lot of people available here [at LEAP] who are ready and willing to talk, discuss and develop ideas with you. I think that students really need to take advantage of it because there is nothing better than being your own boss.”

Also a small business owner, Ouellette and his company Boarder Pass participated in the last incubator held by LEAP this past summer, and had some insight to share about what the incubator does for start-up companies.

“A facility like this for those in the early stages is extremely beneficial because all the knowledge is here and it's ready for you to take advantage of. It's up to you to use it. I saw a lot of people get a lot of value from the summer incubator program that were in those early stages. They helped develop their brand, develop their ideas, checked to see where they were going to go. For me personally that those would have been very helpful in the first few years of our business,” Ouellette said.

Billson stated that the company is part of a larger system in “building a community of entrepreneurialism and small businesses and we [RH Accelerator] are happy to be a part of that ecosystem.”