MARKMONITOR; FIRST TO FILE; NEBULA SHIFT; B|LAUNCHED
Faisal Shah, Founder
His childhood dream of starting a company began taking shape while sitting in a workshop offered by a local intellectual property (IP) law firm. Faisal Shah's aha moment would capitalize on his legal expertise. “It was 1999, the Internet was still nascent”, said Shah, “I realized after attending this workshop that we would be confronted with intellectual property issues online and there would be a need to provide global multinational companies with a way of protecting their important brands and trademarks.” Back at the office, Shah and a technology partner began to design a web application to track names, trademarks, and product names on the Internet. MarkMonitor was born.
The company that started with two employees now employs well over 400 people in 8 cities around the world. MarkMonitor’s offerings evolved to include a full suite of brand protection solutions, including anti-counterfeiting & anti-piracy solutions as well as domain registration solutions. There are over 120 employees based in the Boise office alone; much of the work based here is critical to the company overall.
Now a serial entrepreneur, Shah also founded First to File, a world-class online patent management system, used by some of the world’s largest patent holders. He then co-founded Nebula Shift, a software company incubator and b|launched, a program offered by the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce to teach young professionals about starting software businesses. One of the reasons that b|launched is successful is that it is built around the notion that there is ‘plenty of time’ in a day to work, play and start a successful company.
Shah’s excited by the focus that the city and state have on technology, in particular the IGEM initiative. Shah notes that the program allows the state to give back by adding faculty and programs for institutions like Boise State University. “This will help increase the number of students coming into the Computer Science Department and also help them retain existing students once they are there. What a great program for local businesses! Now we will have more computer science graduates. This will in turn provide more interns and more students that we can now tap into to insure the success of our local companies,” adds Shah.
Shah credits the contributions of the Boise Valley’s workforce for getting MarkMonitor and First to File where they are today. “The workforce is highly skilled, educated and very talented,” said Shah. “What companies that are interested in coming to the Boise Valley should know is that this is a workforce that is highly proficient in multiple languages due to the high influx of refugees as well as its underlying culture”
On Why Entrepreneurs Love It Here:
“When you come here, you have a choice-you can be either be distracted or not. You are away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities. You don’t have the annoying traffic where you spend 2 hours or more a day on the road. You can leave work at 5:00 pm, go on a run, hike incredible trails, or ski Bogus Basin and still be done by 8:00 pm. That still leaves you with time to spend with family. Boise offers you a good work-life balance. All these factors – combined with the accessibility to people, accessibility to government and business leaders makes Boise great.”
On Boise’s Quality of Life:
“What I find particularly attractive is that everything is laid out really well in downtown Boise. The University is within walking distance. If you wanted, you could take a refresher course from BSU’s College of Business and Economics – you could leave your job and be parked and in class within a few minutes – it’s that close to the downtown core. There are parks next to the University and a greenbelt system that connects them. There are great restaurants and good companies located there. Business and government are also concentrated in the downtown core. In other cities, government offices can be located miles away. Here everything is accessible which adds to the ease of doing business in Boise.”
“One beautiful thing about Boise is that you have everything here (arts, restaurants, etc.). It is truly a family friendly and vibrant community on the weekdays and the weekends. It happens organically; everyone wants to be a part of it.”
On Boise’s Draw:
“You have to see it to believe it. You have to come here to see the community Boise Valley has to offer. Words don’t do it justice. I’ve had friends come here and end up working here. They love it. Once you come here, you realize you want to be here. Idaho is a sight to behold. Like I say to people on my travels-come and see it. You will find that it’s a very difficult place to leave.”
On the Business Climate in the Boise Valley:
“There’s a great pro-business attitude between government officials and business leaders with everyone trying to help facilitate the success of local companies. Everyone celebrates in the success of our local companies.”
“There’s an open door policy and easy access to government leaders. This is really important. They are just a phone call away – it’s easy to get in and talk with them.”
“There are a lot of reasons why the business climate in the Boise Valley is great – the quality of life, lower business costs, affordable housing, access to government and business. All of these factors help with employee retention. Boise sells itself.”
On Advice to Entrepreneurs in the Boise Valley:
“There are a lot of resources available here for technology entrepreneurs. Go find them - everything from b|launched (a program with the Boise Chamber of Commerce), Kickstand, TechConnect, Idaho Small Business Development Center, BSU TECenter, and Launchpad – there’s a host of resources that local organizations and the cities have put together. Seek those out. Educate yourself. Network. Learn how to start a company. Find a mentor."