Internet. In the longer term, technical staff should develop the technology to create an Anne's World virtual theme park on the Web that would provide a virtual experience of PEI and attract visitors and customers.

Implementation Plan

For the Anne-E-Mall enterprise, the Provincial Government might provide funding through Enterprise PEI, likely in the form of a loan or equity stake. This would be useful for seed money, to get the project to a point that would attract private investors. However, seeking funding from the government might make the proposal public knowledge, and there is a risk of being scooped. It would be necessary to have in place an experienced management team and a completed Web-site design before seeking private backers. At that point, venture capital could be pursued, although the amount required is small for most venture capitalists. Board members and suppliers may also be interested in an equity stake.

The first step should therefore be to seek seed money and develop the Website that can be used to sell the Anne-E-Mall package. Startup costs may perhaps be kept under $500,000, but additional capital will be required when sales start to move. Probably a more realistic minimum is $1 million, and the management team may be given an equity position. The initial team should include a graphic designer, a Web-site designer, a marketing expert, someone to take charge of development of contacts and contracts, and a financial management person. A production manager will be required to choose products, establish prices, and set up processes for payment and delivery and for customer service, making a total of six. An accounting firm and legal advisors can be kept on retainer.

It is essential in this kind of business to get clear rights to the electronic use of the Anne of Green Gables theme and image before launching. After that, the main bottleneck will be finding and training the people. In other places, recruits might be offered stock options, but this is not common on PEI, and workers are more likely to seek quarterly bonuses. Effort may be concentrated on recruiting Islanders living away, many of whom seek opportunities to return to the Island. An IT job net, coordinated by ITAP, may be effective, perhaps combined with a governmental campaign declaring PEI a "silicon island," and offering special consideration or tax breaks to IT specialists and entrepreneurs who move there to work.



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