HP Tech Helps SMBs Thrive

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Find out how HP tech is helping small businesses thrive...

Last week, you heard from Dan Balluff, owner of City Peanut Shop and presenter at HP Print Tech Day, in this 367AA post about how he’s using HP technology to better his business.


This week, I wanted to share some additional insight from another small business HP customer, Rick Ritter, CEO of Idaho TechConnect.


Like Dan, Rick also presented at HP Print Tech Day—an event that gave technology influencers a behind-the-scenes look at HP’s research and testing facilities in Boise.


I was really interested in Rick’s story at the event, particularly around how his business helps startups thrive through a concept he calls the “Water Cooler” or a business incubator, so I wanted to share our conversation with you: 



Above: Tech Day attendees Marlene Orr and Don Mazzella visit the “Water Cooler” with Rick Ritter of Idaho TechConnect. 


367 Addison Avenue: Tell me about your businesswhat’s the story behind Idaho TechConnect?

Rick Ritter: Idaho TechConnect accelerates Idaho’s innovation-based economy by connecting ideas, people and resources—turning Idaho’s ideas into Idaho’s businesses.


367AA: It’s great that you’re fueling Idaho’s businesses. Can you explain the “Water Cooler” concept and how it contributes to your work?

RR: TechConnect is the resident ‘house parent’ at the Water Cooler—downtown Boise’s home to emerging and innovative businesses. TechConnect and the facility provide businesses with a home that encourages collaboration and facilitates mentoring and community engagement. At the Water Cooler, we offer advice and connections to early-stage start-ups, as well as access to services such as phone and data, post office and printing. Additionally, the Water Cooler provides a venue for dialogue, learning, creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit. We are in the business of helping to create new companies and provide services so the businesses can focus on growing. Currently, we have 10 early stage resident companies and five non-resident companies at the Water Cooler, ranging from outdoor clothing to web services.


367AA: What’s one of your favorite startup success stories from the Water Cooler?

RR: Jitasa (formerly Easy Office) began life in the Water Cooler in 2008 after its founder, Jeff Russell, won the Yale Business Plan competition and located to Boise. Its mission was to provide “back office” services to non-profits. By 2010 the company had grown to 18 employees in two offices at the Water Cooler and another four in their office in New Jersey. The company moved to new space in the downtown Boise core. They now employ more than 70 people in Boise, 50 in an office in Thailand and five in their office in New Jersey.  Recently the company held their monthly staff meeting at the Water Cooler to show all of the employees their beginning location. Jeff and his wife, Tara, are both actively engaged in the start-up and non-profit communities in Boise. Tara’s Create Common Good (CGC) non-profit offers training and employment services to Boise’s refugee community to help them become economically independent. CGC also runs a similar operation in Thailand focused on helping women escape prostitution and human trafficking.


367AA: How has your partnership with HP helped you reach these successes?

RR: Idaho TechConnect has been a part of the HP Testing Program since 2004. This means that we participate in testing HP products and provide feedback on how the products are helping our business. Each of the devices tested during this program have been used in a “shared resource” environment at either the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center (TECenter) or the Water Cooler.


Both facilities have multiple early stage companies from across the business spectrum—software enterprise and apps to devices and services. Sharing resources allows companies to reduce their direct operating expenses and focus limited financial resources on growing their companies. In addition, HP has made valuable contributions (financial and service) to numerous organizations and events that are focused on assisting entrepreneurs – Kickstand, Start-up Treasure Valley, Startup Speed Dating and TechLaunch.


367AA: What technology are you currently using in your office?

RR: We are currently using a HP Laser Jet MFP M521dn as a shared resource for 10 companies and other organizations that use the Water Cooler for meetings.  It is being used in both our “wired” and “wireless” networks.


367AA: Can you provide an example of how your customers have used HP’s technology?

RR: During a recent off-site meeting of a large local company utilized the MFP via the wireless network to print documents created during a brain storming session and a later product definition session. Also, Core Concepts, a Water Cooler resident company, uses the MFP on a regular basis to scan invoices/orders from there more than 100 retailers and vendors. 


367AA: How do you plan to continue and improve your use of technology at TechConnect?

RR: For us, technology is about being able to do our job well and efficiently from anywhere, and the same for the companies housed at the Water Cooler and those organizations that use our facilities.  MFPs enable us to print, copy, scan and save documents as needed throughout the building or from other locations, allowing us to focus on fueling the local start-up community. Looking to the future, we hope to adopt more technologies that can contribute to the "anytime, anywhere, any place" environment of tomorrow's start-ups.


Find out moreTo keep up with Idaho TechConnect, or to find out more information, visit www.idahotechconnect.com and follow Rick on Twitter at @ritter1947.


by henrykiller
on ‎07-19-2017 09:49 PM
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