In late January, Chris Markl, a former Florida State College at Jacksonville 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 of more than 40 original pitches.
He got what he came for — confirmation that his idea, ReStartUp, really did have the potential he imagined it to have.
Now Markl’s 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.
“I wanted to create a marketplace for what was originally called failed businesses, but now we’re not going to call it that,” Markl said. “We want to redefine what success is to the entrepreneur.”
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 entrepreneurs can bid on it.
Think of it as a matchmaking or dating site, but for struggling businesses.
When a bidder is chosen, stakes are discussed and a deal is set. Ultimately, the goal is to make it in the entrepreneur’s best interest to mentor the bidder through the process of taking on the business.
If the new owner succeeds, then the original owner will benefit, too. If all goes as planned, the value created by the initial entrepreneur will be enhanced, not lost.
“We’re really focused on creating economic development,” Markl stressed. “One way to do this is by making it easier to become an entrepreneur. If you start with branding and a track record, you’re getting a huge jump on the competition.”
At One Spark 2014, Markl and his team will be using AnyInc’s creator space to engage potential customers in an instantly beneficial way.
“There will be thousands of people looking to launch businesses,” Markl said, “so we’re going to show them how.”
Quite literally, too.
Visitors can register on AnyInc’s platform using computers provided in AnyInc’s creator space. Beyond that, Markl and his team will be using the five-day One Spark festival to host an AnyInc launch accelerator.
“A sort of entrepreneurial conference,” Markl said, “but fun.”
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 laid back and casual.
Later in the night, there will be another component to add to the schedule for the AnyInc launch accelerator: The U.S. screening of “The Samaritans,” a comedy from Kenya about a non-governmental organization that does nothing.
One Spark visitors will be the first in the country to sit back and enjoy the comedy.
After the debut, AnyInc will close out the night with music by NickFRESH, a local DJ who also will be speaking at the accelerator on how to become a music entrepreneur.
Brianna Sigman is a University of North Florida student who is a member of Ignite Media Jax, an independent news agency covering the One Spark crowdfunding festival.
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