The Prince Edward County Innovation Centre in Picton, Ontario is quickly becoming a tech hot spot. Not sure where Picton is? If you’ve ever been to Sandbanks Provincial Park, Picton is just down the street. Who would have thought this rural area in Ontario would one day lure an IT startup from Silicon Valley?

Who is Behind the Prince Edward County Innovation Centre?

Conrad Guziewicz started the Prince Edward County Innovation Centre last year. He was a Silicon Valley executive for several companies in the ’90s, making enough money to retire at 40, at which point he turned to real estate. Since retiring, Mr. Guziewicz bought a former resort and marina in Picton and renovated it into offices. He has now set up a personal fund to invest in tech startups.  So far the centre has 10 entrepreneurs and 37 employees on site.

Why Startups Are Choosing Prince Edward County Innovation Centre

One of the key benefits of the centre is that Guziewicz and a few partners provide startup capital to entrepreneurs they believe have good ideas. They put seed money forward and take an equity position in the ventures. Another useful item that entrepreneurs receive is mentoring and advice around business methods and product promotion. So far the centre has brought in 9 startups in their first year with the hopes of having 16 by next year.

Steven Chan has moved his gaming and animation, Little Think Tank,  from Silicon Valley to Picton. He said “In Silicon Valley, or Toronto, the cost of living is high. I realized our dollars could go longer here.”

Some startups may also qualify for matching startup loans through a community-based not-for-profit supported by $8-million in federal funds.

Success Stories So Far

The goal for companies at the Prince Edward County Innovation Centre is for startups to make money right away or as soon as possible. The centre already has a big success with Tim Ray, a Queen’s University MBA student who became a 27-year-old millionaire when he sold his online group-buying site to WagJag Ltd. after only seven months in operation. The company is now called WagJag Grocery.

Do you know of any other centres like this? Personally, I’m interested to see if companies will be able to recruit IT people to move out to Picton. What do you think?

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