A New Look for The Spiders Edge

It’s summer. Time to catch my breath, preferably in a lounge chair under a canopy of trees while a gentle breeze cools my dewy skin. Birds churp, vegetables grow, thoughts turn philosphical. 

This year, I’m contemplating the ethics of artificial intelligence and why toilet paper isn’t a better business to be in. Not that those two things are related. I don’t think. But I’m not done researching yet.

Also on the list: an update to my website and the logo for my business, The Spiders Edge. This isn’t related to toilet paper or artificial intelligence. I don’t think. It’s summer, thoughts wander. And wonder.

Perrenially, I wrestle with how to reconcil all my professional interests. Disconcertingly1, it suddenly seems simple. The underlying interests are the same, the implementation has two sides: practical and philosophical.

There was a time when I wrote science fiction. Science fiction was a conduit for me to bring science to people. To increase their understanding of scientific practices, to bring comfort with technological advances, to make them ask questions about the implications of emerging capabilities. This segued into a passion for business ethics. Science and technology are evolving so fast, writing science fiction to contemplate how it will effect humans and the planet is too slow. Science fiction happens in real time. So I write about business ethics now. These interest are philosophical.

The practical. I can’t sit still without envisioning how a scientific developments can be deployed to solve problems, fulfill a needs or generally make themselves useful. This has fired many professional roles (investment banking, technology transfer, research management) and now inspires my teaching interests in business and entrepreneurial strategy. It’s why I like being around entrepreneurs, helping and mentoring them to start their own businesses.

The Spiders Edge is part of my practical side, working with entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them. Why the update to the logo and site? Five years ago, the original logo 5 years came from digging through old files (paper ones!) to find something that resonated with the value I deliver to people I work with.

The old chromatograph depicts purifying a protein, symbolic of hitting on the one, right thing.

That’s what I deliver – the way forward, a rationally-derived focus. And the graph paper resembles a spiderweb, which reflects my network, linking entrepreneurs to the connections they need. Marvel Comics inspired the name with the concept of spidey senses. My spidey senses allow me to know how to communicate about a new business idea. Articular what investors, government, angels, investment bankers, need to hear about a new venture. And what the entrepreneur needs to know too. What’s important for the best chance of success.

These themes carry on in the new logo. Striking the right cord, the spidey network and the colours. Red and black and white. Fire and energy, with clear direction and message. The update is professionally drawn, modern, crisp and clean. Of sufficient resolution to say I mean business.

My message hasn’t changed. I help people find their way to making a difference by translating their invention, concept or startup into a focused business model that investors, customers and suppliers understand and appreciate. The Spiders tagline has changed, from ‘Business Savvy for Technology Commercialization’ to ‘Business Savvy for Innovators’. Modern entrepreneurship includes doing all sorts of creative things with technology and business models, including bringing inventions to market, finding applications for emerging technology, and leveraging technology to satisfy needs in a new way.2

The new logo and updated message reflect dedication to this mission of making entrepreneurs more successful. Updating reaffirms rather than changes. The vision remains: to help innovators/inventors/entrepreneurs achieve their goals of making other people’s lives better/easier/happier.3

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1Generally, amateurs writers use too many adverbs. They too are flowing for me this summer. Swimmingly.

2I’ve written about this before. The technology is often no longer limiting. Fulfilling a need is the key.

3If this sounds too socialist for you, bear in mind my philosophy about business is that if a product or service is appreciated by the customer, if there is value, money will flow to the entrepreneur. There’s a bunch of math behind this to explain how much money, but that’s the basics. If you build something people find useful, the money will come. However, this is predicticated on finding the right target market , a viable value propostion, a competitive advantage and a bunch of other fundamental business concepts.

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Neighbours in the Innovation Ecosystem

I have been asked if the services offered by The Spiders Edge are competitive with local government agencies that support entrepreneurs, like the Spark Centre, the Business Advisory Centre of DurhamĀ BACD, MaRS, economic development agencies and their equivalents in other regions in Ontario and Canada.

Absolutely not. I believe we are complementary. In fact, one of the first questions I would ask any potential client is whether they had taken full advantage of such services.

It takes a lot of different kinds of expertise to support the growth of a single new company and every young company is different. Each company creator, entrepreneur or inventor, brings a unique mix of skills and knowledge with him or her. This means that the type of services they need to complement their own expertise is unique.

The following lists the components a startup or small technology-based company will need early in its development. There are likely other specialized things individual companies will need.

  • business strategy, including:
    • competitive position
    • value proposition validation
  • accounting
  • finance
  • legal, including
    • incorporation and company structuring
    • shareholder agreements
    • intellectual property protection
    • legal agreements with suppliers, client
  • manufacturing, prototype development, productization, suppliers, facilities, certifications
  • sales expertise and experience
  • marketing plans
  • marketing materials
  • business development planning, including
  • budgets
  • financial projections
  • hiring of staff
  • product delivery logistics
  • quality control
  • developmental milestones and timelines
  • relationship management, networks

Depending on the founders skills set, some of the above will need to be outsourced. The company will also need the funds to support its growth and development. Finally, people to do the related tasks are needed, including the critical task of raising the money.

Organizations like Spark, MaRS and the BACD will work with entrepreneurs to help them decide which of the above elements they need to develop to move their business forward and also provide access to experts to facilitate this. Economic development folks can provide assistance with facilities, suppliers, labour force, and networks. Various professionals, such as lawyers, accountants, sales and marketing professionals, and leadership coaches can provide services in their area of specialization.

The Spiders Edge offers services with a focus in three areas: business strategy, intellectual property, and access to funding. What sets me apart is the way I can deliver these services. I want to be an integral part of the business, involved in the day to day operations, doing what needs to be done, but also making use of the skills I have, to complement those of the company founders. I have the flexibility to contribute a variety of business development skills and understand the science behind the technology.

Each professional service provider, government-funded agency, and entrepreneur is part of the local innovation ecosystem. We all have our part to play, and we all need each other to create a vibrant, healthy environment where businesses flourish.

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