In late January, Chris Markl, a former Florida State College economics professor, walked into an entrepreneurial event at the University of North Florida where all interested professionals were welcome to pitch business ideas and hear feedback from their peers.
He pitched his plan, the people voted, and his business idea placed in the top three out of over 40 original pitches.
He got what he came for‚ÄĒconfirmation that his idea,¬†ReStartUp, really did have the potential he imagined it to have.
Now Markl‚Äôs idea will be making its global debut at One Spark 2014, where he is registered as a creator seeking $50,000 toward building awareness and demand for his startup business.
AnyInc, the new name of ReStartUp, is an online platform for failing startups that have enough potential to be taken over by a new owner.
‚ÄúI wanted to create a marketplace for what was originally called failed businesses, but now we‚Äôre not going to call it that,‚ÄĚ Markl said. ‚ÄúWe want to redefine what success is to the entrepreneur.‚ÄĚ
The failure rate in startups is 80 to 95 percent. Markl and his team aim to corner that market and provide interested entrepreneurs with a jump in the competition.
In essence, AnyInc will be a digital space for entrepreneurs to hand off their struggling business to someone who has the resources and passion to continue it. The entrepreneur will post the failing startup on the website for a flat fee, and then searching entrepreneurs can bid on it.
Think of it as a matchmaking or dating site, but for struggling businesses.
When a bidder gets chosen, stakes are discussed and a deal is set. Ultimately, the goal is to make it in the entrepreneur‚Äôs best interest to mentor the bidder through the process of taking on the business.
If the new owner succeeds, then the old owner will benefit, too. If all goes as planned, the value created by the original entrepreneur will be enhanced, not lost.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre really focused on creating economic development,‚ÄĚ Markl stressed. ‚ÄúOne way to do this is by making it easier to become an entrepreneur. If you start with branding and a track record, you‚Äôre getting a huge jump on the competition.‚ÄĚ
At One Spark 2014, Markl and his team will be using AnyInc‚Äôs creator space to engage potential customers in an instantly beneficial way.
‚ÄúThere will be thousands of people looking to launch businesses,‚ÄĚ Markl said, ‚Äúso we‚Äôre going to show them how.‚ÄĚ
Quite literally, too.
Visitors can register on AnyInc‚Äôs platform using computers provided in AnyInc‚Äôs creator space. Beyond that, Markl and his team will be using the five-day One Spark festival to host an AnyInc Launch Accelerator.
‚ÄúA sort of entrepreneurial conference,‚ÄĚ Markl said, ‚Äúbut fun.‚ÄĚ
The goal is to create five days of entertainment that includes office hours, business lunches, networking opportunities and even pitch competitions. Still, the atmosphere will be kept laid back and casual.
Later in the night, there will be another exciting component to add to the schedule for the AnyInc Launch Accelerator.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre doing the first USA screenings of The¬†‚ÄėSamaritans‚Äô¬†at One Spark,‚ÄĚ Markl revealed. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a comedy TV series from Kenya about an NGO that does nothing.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôve blown up in the press lately‚ÄĒCNN, Salon, Huffington Post, BBC, etc.‚ÄĚ
One Spark visitors will be the first in the US to sit back and enjoy the comedy.
After the debut, AnyInc will close out the night with music by NickFRESH, a local DJ who will also be speaking at the Accelerator on how to become a music entrepreneur.
This story was reported by Ignite Media, an independent news bureau created by University of North Florida students.