A founder of MapInfo has moved to Kiev to work in a business incubator, providing help to would-be capitalists.
After you've helped found an Inc. 500 company, what do you do for an encore? That's the question that faced Andrew Dressel, one of the founders of MapInfo, a Troy, N.Y., manufacturer of mapping software that ranked #23 on Inc.'s 1992 list of the fastest-growing privately held companies. By the spring of 1992, "MapInfo had grown up and I couldn't find a comfortable place in it for me anymore," Dressel recalls. "I thought the only honorable way to leave would be to do something so new and cool that no one could object."
Dressel's solution? He's putting his entrepreneurial experience to work in a business incubator -- in Kiev. After convincing the director of Kiev Polytechnic Institute that he was not, in fact, a spy, Dressel is hard at work sharing his company-building skills with aspiring Ukrainian entrepreneurs. "A lot of my time has been spent explaining capitalism," he says. Challenges range from persuading Ukrainians with ideas to take the entrepreneurial plunge to altering local attitudes about marketing. ("People think if you have to advertise, the product can't be very good.") Still, over the past 15 months, Dressel estimates, he's provided assistance to more than three dozen would-be young capitalists at the incubator, known as the Eastern Europe Business Development Center. The incubator even put Kiev Software Factory, a 10-month-old custom-software manufacturer, in touch with its first customer. That customer? MapInfo.