Scion launches small-business incubator
LOS ANGELES -- Toyota Motor Corp.'s Scion youth brand is launching a small-business incubator competition for young people full of ideas but short of cash.
The competition, which begins today, has young, entrepreneurial artists, musicians, designers and fashionistas vying for a chance to get start-up funding from Scion.
"This is about turning people's passions into a career," Owen Peacock, Scion national manager of marketing and communications, said in an interview.
"It's not for the dreamer who thinks, 'Someday.' This is for the person who has taken the first step, signed a lease and incorporated," Peacock added.
The 50 individuals with the best ideas will be brought to Los Angeles for a three-day small business conference with panelists and speakers, all of which will be streamed on the Web for those who didn't win. The 50 semifinalists will then compete for 10 winning spots that will each receive $10,000, a new Scion vehicle and a six-month mentorship from a successful small-business owner.
"The mind-set of young people today is the opposite of what it used to be, before Enron and Kodak," said Doug Murtha, Scion vice president. "Being self-sufficient is seen as less risky."
Scion will also document through Web video how the 10 winners' first six months of business went: the highs and lows, whether they succeeded, and how the Scion vehicle helped the enterprise. It will have a reality-TV feel; think of it as "The Apprentice" with a gentler touch.
But the competition's biggest aim is to help Scion continuing reaching and stay connected to younger U.S. buyers and draw future owners to the Toyota fold.
Scion's U.S. sales have climbed 50 percent this year to 56,490 through September.
This isn't Scion's first run at helping young artists. Since its 2004 launch, the brand has had its own record label, which cranks out singles from up-and-coming hip-hop and dubstep musicians.
And it has sponsored street and gallery artists with exhibitions in several cities. The business incubator contest is just a more formal version of the process, Peacock said.
The call for Scion Motivate entries runs through end of January, with a slate of 30-second commercials promoting the competition. The Top 50 selection will be made in February, and the workshop will happen in March.
You can reach Mark Rechtin at email@example.com. -- Follow Mark on