By Phyllis Mak, RIC Centre’s Communications Intern
“When accepted as a cohort at RIC, AOMS Technologies was facing some challenges related to business development strategy, pricing model, B2B marketing, business plan development, and business negotiation skills,” says Amir Azhari, President and COO of AOMS Technologies, one of James’ clients and a current participant in the incubator at the RIC Centre. “James Sbrolla helped us to overcome these challenges and develop and validate a business model which helped us to position our company as a technology provider in a cost sensitive industry. With the help of James, we also developed a blended pricing model— a combination of equipment purchase, leasing, and software services— which was very attractive to our clients and removed our barrier to entry into the market.”
In James Sbrolla’s experience as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) at the RIC Centre, there isn’t a secret recipe or magic wand to wave when it comes to helping new entrepreneurs tackle the challenges of starting up in the business industry.
“There’s no simple solution— it’s always a customized, individualized approach for everyone,” says James. “Not having a standard response is the best response.”
James has been working for the RIC Centre since late 2011— prior to that he was already an EIR for MaRS Discovery District, the Regional Innovation Centre for Toronto since 2007. Presently, James’ occupation is an entrepreneur and an EIR, and he brings over twenty-five years of knowledge and experience as a member of the Cleantech industry, a board member of other companies, and the Chairman of Environmental Business Consultants (EBC) to RIC Centre clients in need of mentorship.
When James got into the business in the early 90s, he was involved in the contracting industry where he was cleaning up contaminated sites. Through his work, he developed expertise in his field and turned his knowledge into a competitive asset for the industry. Since then, he has witnessed dramatic changes in the industry and the evolution of the sector.
In the businesses he’s not holding an active role in day by day, James endeavours to give constructive oversight and independence to boards that are run by people who want a third-party perspective like his. “It’s similar to being an EIR,” James explains. “I provide an unbiased and objective third party resource.”
Aside from his perspectives and guidance, James also offers startup entrepreneurs with a piece of advice he received from his own coaches and mentors. “Learn more, no matter what your situation,” says James. “Whether it’s about the market, competition, cost structure and sales structure, or human resources.”
The success of a client is what drives James in his work, and he sees himself as a coach on the sidelines as well, cheering on the players in their efforts.
“Success is measured in different ways,” reveals James. “Sometimes it’s making the first sale, making 1000 sales, or just having a product ready to go.”
You can find out more about EBC’s business and environmental services here. Looking to get some advice and mentorship for your business? Register as an RIC Client today to get in touch with one of our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence! Visit the RIC Centre Events Calendar to find out more about our upcoming events and workshops.