Matthew Pauley has been around the world studying entrepreneurship, and now he’s set up shop in Charlottetown where he wants to help new businesses launch and young businesses thrive.
As well as being an assistant prof at University of Prince Edward Island, Pauley is the new Director of the Hostetter Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. It’s an institution he’s trying to breathe new life into.
The centre was established nine years ago with a grant from businessman Ralph Hostetter, and has been sitting without funding for some time. The lack of funding is not stopping Pauley from establishing a place where students, faculty and staff at the university can bring their business ideas to fruition.
“We’ve already had 20 students and three faculty members in the program,” Pauley, who arrived in Charlottetown in August, said in an interview. “We’ve reached out to the university community and the disciplines [represented so far include] business, the arts, engineering, even political science. That’s with no funding so when we do finally start to secure funding I only believe it will only grow faster.”
Pauley’s studies and business ventures have taken him far and wide. A native of Barrie, Ont., he has studied in South Dakota on a golf scholarship, taught English for business in South Korea, and attended St. Andrew’s University in Scotland. Now he’s ensconced in P.E.I., and says he’s pleased with both the friendliness and entrepreneurial spirit he’s found on the island.
“In my opinion, P.E.I. is the entrepreneurial giant of the nation,” said Pauley. “There’s a lot of entrepreneurial mindset here and it’s just waiting to take off. What I want to do is help to bring it to the forefront.”
Pauley has found that many of the entrepreneurs in micro-businesses in the island engage in traditional and seasonal businesses like agriculture and tourism. And in the off-season they diversify into craft businesses, like knitting or making knickknacks. That’s proof of the entrepreneurial mindset he so admires.
“Entrepreneurship is not necessarily a foundation course; rather it’s a way of thinking,” he said. “It’s important for other faulty to understand that ideas are in everyone. And my role is to help them recognize those idea and to help to commercialize them.”
He has set up two phases of the Hostetter programing : first, an incubator, in which students, faculty and staff can bring their ideas, research the market and explore whether there is a business case; and second, there is an accelerator, which helps to launch a business if it’s determined there is a product-market fit.
Pauley is also teaching entrepreneurship courses in the business school, and is working with established businesses like Odyssey Virtual, a virtual reality and drone company, and Island Aquatech, which has automated the process of flipping oyster cages. And he’s interested in working with staff and faculty at UPEI’s veterinary college to help them hone their entrepreneurial skillset.
While IT and tech companies get a lot of press these days, Pauley said he’s more interested in working in entrepreneurship in traditional businesses like agriculture and tourism because these will have the largest economic impact.
“Statistically speaking, those types of companies [tech startups] are huge outliers,” he said. “What I’m trying to do – no pun intended – I’m looking at the meat and the potatoes of the economy.”