22 November 2010
US Expansion, Domestic Growth for Hamilton’s Business Edge
Business Edge, New Zealand’s only faith-based business support network and start-up incubator, has expanded into the United States by establishing its first international chapter in Destin, Florida on 1 November.
Growth at home is also on an upswing, with the Hamilton-based organisation shifting into their new Business Edge Centre in Frankton this month.
Business Edge was launched in 2003 by Hamilton couple, Denis and Coralie Clark. Since its inception, Business Edge has aimed to support Christian business people to become a positive force within their business communities.
Founder and Business Pastor, Denis Clark, says the last two years has been a time of exponential growth for the organisation, with membership sitting at 181.
“Since 2008, our membership has nearly doubled, with new members joining from right across New Zealand and a few overseas. Since launching in Florida on 1 November, we already have 25 new US members.
“Our business incubator is also growing. We now have six businesses operating in the Business Edge Centre and have had a lot of interest in our three remaining offices,” explains Denis.
Incubator companies actively receiving support and mentoring have realised growth rates ranging from 25%-127% over the past two years.
Incubator tenant, David Creighton-Pester of Scorch Design, has been in the centre for almost two years and finds the network, advice and support invaluable.
“I originally tried to get my graphic design and illustration business started by working on my own, but found it slow going. Since I joined the incubator, my company has really taken off.
“The networking opportunities I have through the incubator have been a huge key to my business growth. In addition to the great business advice from our experienced Business Pastors, the Christian environment is also important to me. Being surrounded by people with the same values and beliefs is very empowering,” explains David.
Trish and Greg Thomson, owners of Thomson’s ITM in Hamilton, have been members of Business Edge for around four years. Trish says the organisation has been a huge support to the couple.
“Being a business owner can be a lonely place at times. Becoming a part of Business Edge, where we’re surrounded by like-minded business people has been a great support. It’s also exciting to see young entrepreneurs taking advantage of the Business Edge incubator. This is a terrific opportunity for them to learn crucial business principals alongside good role models who will help them expand while avoiding some key mistakes,” says Trish.
Fundamental to the organisation’s recent acceleration has been the appointment of Hamilton social entrepreneur, Phil Strong, who joined the organisation’s leadership in January with a focus on business development.
Phil and his wife Kathy have an impressive background in entrepreneurship, starting and growing several successful companies, including a building company, an on-line shop for families, a financial services company and a major property investment business.
Phil is working with companies in the Business Edge Incubator, assisting them with entrepreneurial advice and support. He also works with Business Edge’s Young Entrepreneur Group. Several of the 20 entrepreneurs participating in the group have won national awards in their respective industries this past year.
When asked for the secret of the organisation’s success, Phil says, “It can be attributed to the calibre of our business owners, our incubator environment, and the availability of wisdom, understanding and advice offered by our Business Pastors.”
Denis Clark says he believes “Business Edge has proven that merging business best practice with sound Christian principles creates a great culture of achievement and enterprise.”
Guy Howard-Willis, co-owner of seven major websites in New Zealand and Australia, including www.torpedo7.com and www.1-day.co.nz , is a member of Business Edge and says the prayer and support has been a real boost for his business.
“Part of Business Edge is how all the members agree to pray for each others’ businesses. I’ve found this inspiring and rewarding. Plus members are great at sending encouraging emails or picking up the phone with advice and support. Business Edge has just had its annual conference, which was particularly stimulating and has given me a real boost,” say Guy.
The new Business Edge Centre will celebrate its opening on Friday, 19 November from 5:30-7pm. All Waikato business owners are invited to drop by for the opening event.