Incubating new business in Sooke

SookeSpace: Mission impossible, or not? Economic change needed.

Michael Clouser

Michael Clouser

What exactly is the industrial base of Sooke?

There once was an answer to that.

An article by Sooke historian Elida Peers (“Where the rain forest meets the sea,” posted on the Sooke district website) presents a long history of logging and fishing. The article concludes with the ominous line, “Until a decade ago, it was the harvesting of the rainforest that built the economy of the district, and fed the coffers of the province.”

Which begs the question, what sustains Sooke’s economy, now and into the future?

Sooke’s 2011 Official Community Plan presents us as a “bedroom community” for Victoria.

Some, like Ken Stratford, have a vision of Sooke being a hub for telecommuters.

Hope — in and of itself — will not bring about economic change to the greater Sooke region.

Maybe what is needed is a serious shake-up, a radical re-thinking of what Sooke can offer.

One individual offering an alternative framework is Sooke’s Michael Clouser, who is in the beginning throes of exploring an entrepreneur’s incubator here in Sooke.

“Incubation is a process that provides a framework of support to help entrepreneurs build business and social organizations that are profitable and sustainable,” explained Clouser.

Clouser knows business. Currently an associate faculty member at Royal Roads, his bio reads, “He was the CEO of Cornell-affiliated Student Agencies Incorporated in Ithaca, New York. Run by students, the firm had 14 operating companies, $20 million in real estate assets, an incubator, and student venture fund.”

He was also involved in establishing TechCube, an incubator in Edinburgh.

“I helped start TechCube in Edinburgh,” said Clouser. “It’s a mixed arts and technology incubator near the University of Edinburgh.”

Clouser said incubators help nurture businesses through start-up and often launch their success.

“An incubator helps nurture start-up companies and/or not-profit organizatons get through the very early stages of life which are the most difficult and where the prospect of death is very apparent, since most startup ventures fail. An incubator may have physical space associated with it, or not. Either way it provides business advisory support, management guidance, educational programs, mentor networks, and other resources. It helps the founders and early management teams of ventures with strategy and the acquisition of resources to grow as well.”

Clouser’s vision for an incubator in Sooke is one with three “verticals,” or areas of concentration, tapping into some of the core strengths of the community: Arts, technology, and food production.

It’s codename, for now, is “SookeSpace.”

“Eventually, the vision is to have a space, a physical location, with probably various wings to the building for two things mainly. One is for creativity and a space where you can make things. And another one is about excelaration and incubation of new organizations.” He is also passionately committed to food production and sustainability. Ideally, the space would be centrally located, accessible on foot or by bicycle.

“It would help create jobs, eventually, that could be sustaining for the community, instead of being a bedroom community.”

Clouser believes everybody has some form of creativity. “An incubator gives them the space to create,” allowing them to make a living from their passion, be it in the arts, in business, or in the garden.

At the project’s end, he envisions a 40,000 square foot building (built in segments, up and out) that offers start-ups a reduced rent and access to key start-up resources like fundraising and resource acquisition expertise.

There would be an expectation of start-ups benefitting from the incubation centre to give back to to the community to youth and senior through volunteerism. Examples can include things like education and training.

To get there, he will need a core team of five to six people who share the vision. He already has a few people in mind. Clouser is currently engaged in pre-incubation conversations with a number of entrepreneurs in Sooke, and is looking for others who might be interested. He is also engaged in discussions with the three post-secondary educational institute in our midsts: Royal Roads, University of Victoria, and Camosun College.

To reach Michael Clouser, email michael.clouser@gmail.com

According to the Canadian Association of Business Incubation (cabi.ca), an incubator is a start-up hub “engaged in business incubation and economic development, dedicated to supporting the growth of new and emerging businesses.”

A Forbes article (“Five Reasons 8 Out Of 10 Businesses Fail”) states that 80 per cent of all new business ventures fail. Entrepreneur Incubators reverse those numbers. CABI states, “The average survival rate of companies in Canada that go through business incubation has been shown to be higher than 80% after five years.”

Entrepreneurial incubation is not new. The first U.S. incubator was founded in New York in 1959 by Joseph Mancuso. According to the National Business Incubation Association there are over 7,000 business incubators world wide.

And, if it chooses to accept the mission, Sooke can help that number go up a notch.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Victoria-based orthopedic surgeon has been reprimanded after using sexualized language during a surgical consult with a pre-teen patient. (Pixabay)
Victoria doctor fined and reprimanded for calling pre-teen patient a ‘loose woman’

Dr. Bruce Taro Yoneda admitted to using sexualized language in surgical consult

Victoria police are asking for the public’s help locating Alexander Stokes, 19. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police searching for missing teen

Police looking to ensure safety of Alexander Stokes, 19

Sweetpal Chauhan, operator of several Shell Gas stations in Greater Victoria, donated 100 jackets and 100 sleeping bags to Our Place on Friday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria businessman donates 100 jackets, 100 sleeping bags to Our Place

Warm jackets, sleeping bags can mean the ‘difference between life and death’

Anvy Technologies CEO Victor Nicolov displays his company’s innovative garbage disposal device, the Sepura. (Courtesy of Anvy Technologies)
Goodbye garburator, this Victoria company has a clean composting solution

Sepura has made Times Magazine’s ‘100 Best Inventions of 2020’ for its hassle-free functioning

Merchants along Fort Street are hosting the Winter Wander holiday shopping event Dec. 5. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Wander along Fort Street for a total holiday shopping experience

Merchants featuring discounts, special offerings; community event set for Dec. 5

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. to test emergency alert system on cell phones, TVs, radios on Wednesday

The alert is part of a twice yearly test of the national Alert Ready system

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Phillip Tallio was just 17 when he was convicted of murder in 1983 (file photo)
Miscarriage of justice before B.C. teen’s 1983 guilty plea in girl’s murder: lawyer

Tallio was 17 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his 22-month-old cousin

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

7-year-old Mackenzie Hodge from Penticton sent a hand-written letter to premiere John Horgan asking if she’d be able to see her elf, Ralph under the new coronavirus restrictions. (John Horgan / Twitter)
Elf on the shelf an acceptable house guest, B.C. premier tells Penticton girl

A 7-year-old from Penticton penned a letter asking if she’d be allowed to see her elf this year

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

Most Read