By JOHN T. WARD
Got an idea for a business, but don’t know how to bring it to life?
Defined Logic, a Red Bank company that specializes in leveraging digital technology for large and medium-sized enterprises, recently launched an incubator to help Monmouth County residents test the viability of their dream businesses, even if they’re barely a gleam in the eye.
Dubbed Studio Red Bank, the effort’s goal is to put the talents of Defined Logic employees — and some of its clients, including River Road Waste Management CEO Kristen Bunnell— to work in helping new entrepreneurs develop ideas into sustainable businesses, said Gordon Foryth, a brand strategist at the Chestnut Street company.
“We’re looking at it really as mentoring in that very early stage,” when a would-be entrepreneur might not have a sense of where to go to get things rolling, Forsyth said.
One key distinction between this and other incubators, said Forsyth, is that Studio Red Bank won’t insist on an equity stake in any business that develops from the process. It’s also free, whereas others charge.
Why give away a stake in what make turn out to be the next Facebook?
“Traditionally, there’s this huge gap between angel investment and venture capital,” Forsyth said. Early investors “are looking for huge returns, so they’re looking for ‘size’ ideas.” But that excludes many good business ideas that may not scale up very well, but still create value in a community, he said.
Those are the ones Studio Red Bank is most concerned about, Forsyth said— though it wouldn’t turn away a chance to help launch a fast-growing disrupter.
“We’re more interested in good ideas, and what makes a good idea economically sustainable,” Forsyth said.
A core team of mentors at Defined Logic will vet pitches and select applicants, then help them refine their thinking about business models and more, with the aim of “coaching them to the presentation level,” where they might begin to seek financing, said Forsyth. That could mean anything from launching a Kickstarter campaign to seeking out venture capital.
Already, the program has received some interesting submissions for the cosmetics and mobile gaming sectors, he said, though he couldn’t say more because of privacy agreements.
Anyone is welcome to submit a business idea, but the project is biased toward local folks and students at New Jersey colleges, Forsyth said.
In fact, a student-oriented arm of the program debuted last month at Monmouth University and the College of New Jersey, the alma maters, respectively, of Studio Red Bank employees Rob Arace and Erin Largey. It’s broadened so that college students across the state have until December 31 to submit 500-word business ideas. Studio Red Bank mentors will select those they consider the five best, which will be posted on a Facebook page for others to vote on over a two-week period. The top vote-getter will then enter the mentoring phase.
Submissions for the contest can be made at the Studio Red Bank website.