Where Did FYELABS Come From?

Where It All Started

I have now spent the better part of a year building and growing FYELABS. The best part of this is every day I get to meet, and hear the unique stories of, visionary founders from around the world. Almost every single one of them ask me how FYELABS was born. So, I figured the best way to kick off our blog would be to talk about our roots. Where did FYELABS come from? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

The genesis of FYELABS is in what was previously the Computing Infrastructure Research Centre (CIRC) at McMaster University. I was its co-founder and managing director. At CIRC my job was to help companies develop innovative solutions to pressing problems. It allowed me to do many “experiments” on how to add rocket fuel to ambitious startups and small businesses.  

SMEs Drive Innovation But...

Everybody knows that small(er) businesses is where innovation happens. But why do most startups fail? Why are small businesses so fragile? In working with over 100 business founders, I realized that their biggest struggle is to figure out the “nuts and bolts” of their product. This distracts them from their need of the hour, which is to develop an intimate understanding of their customers’ pain points.

To solve this, I launched the Innovation-as-a-service (Iaas) Program at CIRC. The program was both simple and powerful; a lean mean interdisciplinary team that works alongside business founders to develop a product ready for market. With the worries of product development taken care of, the founders could now focus on the one thing that matters most; their customers.

FYELABS Is Built On 3 Pillars

To serve its purpose, the IaaS program was built on three pillars:

It had to be a one-stop-shop.

Founders don’t have the time to shop around for different resources. So, I built a very, very interdisciplinary team, one that can tackle a broad range of product development, from scalable web applications to advanced bioreactors.

The process had to be really, really fast.

In bringing new products to market, speed is the most important ingredient. It is much more valuable to develop a minimum viable product in weeks so that you can start to test the market. It is usually suicidal to develop the perfect product over a year and then learn that the customer needs have changed, or didn’t exist in the first place.

The service had to be no frills service.

Founders and SME owners don’t work on annual “budgets”. There is no room for (and no need to woo them with) fancy offices, expensive dinners, and more importantly, a product with “bloatware.”

The IaaS program was an instant success. My team kept growing until a critical mass was reached. At that time, it made sense to spin out of the university. This is how FYELABS was born. We have one mission in life; yes only one. To de-risk and simplify the act of developing new products and technologies. This is how we have added rocket fuel to the fires started by over 75 founders and business owners to date.

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