At the November Morris Tech Meetup, John Carini, CEO of iEnterprises and one of the organizers of the meetup, announced the establishment of a New Jersey-based technology incubator/accelerator for very early stage founders with no technical expertise.
The iEnterprises Technology Accelerator is looking for B2B software companies with nontechnical founders who also require help with their mass marketing.
Based in Chatham, iEnterprises is a customer-relationship-management (CRM) and social-marketing-tools company.
The accelerator will focus on eliminating a problem typical of nontechnical founders: They usually have an idea for a B2B solution, but know nothing about technology, don’t know how to find a developer and don’t have the ability to manage the development process.
“What we’ll do is provide the developer resources to help you develop your product,” Carini said. “We are using our own staff to do that. We have staff in New Jersey, some in London and a large group in India, as well.”
Carini said that he has seen many companies hire third-party companies to do their development, using angel funds or their own funds. “Then you get locked in. You think you are building a product, and you get to a certain point, and you think your product is done. But you are really never done. You need sustained development in perpetuity to keep the product fresh and to compete in the marketplace.” Startups tend to keep paying and paying, and sometimes are held hostage for their software by those third-party developers, he said.
iEnterprises will provide a three-step program. During the first step, the accelerator will help its client companies develop a minimum viable product. However, in the B2B world, showing an MVP is not enough.
“Imagine going into Chase Bank and saying ‘I have an MVP right here. Nobody’s ever used it, but why don’t you give it a try.’” B2B companies have to go a little further.
During the second step, the accelerator will help the startup develop a production-ready program and will help them go to market. “We are a CRM company, so we provide you with the CRM tools and some marketing tools” to help your company get customers, Carini said.
Along the way, Carini said, the iEnterprises accelerator will teach the startup about what it is like to manage developers, so they can make them a part of their companies. During the third step, iEnterprises will turn over the developers to the startups, so the founders can have a sustainable business.
Carini adds that he is a big believer in bootstrapping for technology companies. “I don’t care how much funding you have, there will come a time in your company’s existence where you’ll have to bootstrap your company. What we are doing is giving you the tools to allow you to bootstrap for much longer. We get you out of the gate, we get something developed, then we seed your staff with capable people, as well as sales and marketing tools and skills, so you can move forward yourself.”
Of course all of this isn’t a free service for the startups. The accelerator will take a “little bit” of equity up front, and will share some of its software development costs, which will be below market price, said Carini. “We want to make sure that whoever comes into the program is committed to the product,” he said.
At the end of the program, when the accelerator turns over the developers, iEnterprises will take a bit more equity, Carini explained. Although completing all three stages of the accelerator provides the highest possibility of success, he noted that startups are not committed to go through all three steps of the program. They can do any combination of the steps and then drop out.
Companies can apply to the iEnterprises accelerator here. Applications are based on rolling admissions.