Space is filling up at North Iowa Area Community College's Business Incubator with two very different start-ups joining the entrepreneurial community. The North Iowa Business Incubator is operated by NIACC's John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.
The first new tenant is God's Perfect Masterpiece, which distributes character-building programs to parents who home school their children. "As we home schooled our children," noted owner Becky Huang, "we found ample resources for academic subjects, like Math, English and Social Studies, but almost nothing to support character development, like Ethics and Social Responsibility. For many parents, character development is a primary reason for home schooling and yet that need was not being adequately served. We sought out the best programs available and can now offer them nationwide through our Web site, www.godsperfectmasterpiece.com ."
"God's Perfect Masterpiece is facing many of the same challenges that other Internet-based retailers face," observed Mark Olchefske, Incubator/Accelerator Director. "In the vastness and selection of products available on the Internet, how does a company identify and get the word out to their niche market and how does a consumer find out about a specialty e-tailer like God's Perfect Masterpiece? The most successful strategy will be to use a mix of modern and traditional methods to develop the brand and to build awareness in the marketplace."
The second new incubator tenant, North Iowa On Shore, represents a bold challenge to the practice of sending high technology work overseas to India, China or Russia. Their business concept is built upon fast, high quality, domestically produced SQL database development by people who work in the same time zone as their customers. More information is on their Web site, www.northiowaonshore.com .
"As an Internet-based business, we could operate anywhere in the world, but North Iowa is the ideal spot for a company like ours," said Chief Technology Officer Mike Mastro. "We are centrally located to Minneapolis, Rochester, Chicago, Des Moines, St. Louis, Omaha and Kansas City, yet have a better cost structure because of the lower cost of living in North Iowa. I have had to deal with foreign-located providers for most of my career and the time difference, language barrier and difficulty in having face-to-face meetings caused a lot of problems. The Internet is wonderful, but sometimes it is so much more efficient to be in the same room together. We can be at a client in our first tier cities in a matter of hours."
Another benefit of being in the NIACC Business Incubator is ready access to interns and potential employees trained in database development and software testing.
"NIACC is a fabulous resource to our company," said Mark Meier, Chief Operating Officer. "The education the students are receiving makes them ideal interns before graduation and ideal employees after graduation. Being in the on-campus incubator allows the students and the company to work around each others schedules for maximum benefit to both."
"On-shoring is a phenomenon we have been seeing for the past four or five years," noted Olchefske. "American companies are successfully repositioning themselves against foreign competition and bringing business back from overseas. They can offer conveniences that are more valuable and cost effective to clients when compared against foreign vendors. It is very difficult to manage a business relationship across 12 time zones and different cultures. More and more, client companies express a preference to talk to and work with Midwesterners, who are famous for their work ethic, giving supplier companies in our area a huge competitive advantage."