By on October 26, 2012

Scion may have taken some heat for its heavy metal marketing initiative, but Toyota’s youth brand is about to put its money where its mouth (and marketing dollars are). Scion will launch a small-business incubator, dubbed Scion Motivate, to help young people get creative-focused start-ups off the ground.

Automotive News outlines the process as such

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.

Rather than sit and figure out ways to sell cars to “Millenials”, Scion is doing something, however small, to help solve the biggest automotive related problem for Generation Y; nobody has jobs – or a decent paying job – which makes vehicle ownership an expensive and unattractive proposition. Now, this is far from catch-all solution to getting Gen Y motorized again; things like urbanization and environmental consciousness have dampened the enthusiasm for cars to an extent, but it is far from flat-lined, as some would like us to believe.

We salute Scion’s efforts to encourage entrepreneurship among youth; in an era of “you didn’t build that” and dismal unemployment figures for young people, this is the right program with the right message, even if selling cars is the ultimate driving force behind it.

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24 Comments on “Generation Why: Scion Redeems Itself Via Incubator...”


  • avatar
    cheapthrills

    Honestly, I really like this idea. I agree that the Millenial generation is awash with a defeatist, lazy constitution. Even the people I met in engineering school said they expect that they will never need to perform math in their permanent jobs. The fact is, success takes work and inspiration.

    By starting an entrepreneurial contest, with mentor support being the top prize, they are getting people dreaming. After getting their ideas into the contest, many people may still pursue the venture even if they don’t win.

    By providing one of their vehicles as the other part of the top prize, it will get people lusting after the models, playing with the online configurators, and ultimately idolizing the brand (in theory).

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Permenant jobs? LOL. My father’s generation saw the last of the permenant jobs dissappear before I was born. I’m in my 30s and I’ve had some good jobs, bit never one where my boss ever said anyrhing about permenance. The kids whosw constition you dismiss are worried aboit jobs at all.

      If you asked me if I was going to do math jn my permenant job, I’d tell you no too. My job revolves around applied discrete mathematics, and my last job revolved around computational modeling and simulation, where the introductory slides for most presentatikns included vector calculus – or at least a couple of sigmas. I use math *now*, bit i jave no idea whst my “permenant jpb” would be. LOL

      Dear boss: If you read this, can we talk about making myjob “permenant”?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The death metal marketing effort will probably end up selling more cars than this will.

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      I don’t think so – if they really market this contest they can really come out looking like a good company that cares about people and stuff. These attributes are important to young people – it gives the company a positive image

  • avatar

    Well apparently siding with Heavy Metal bands didn’t pan out for them, eh.

  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    Hey, maybe they can do this new thing full time, and let Toyota sell the cars. At least that way there would be a reason for them to exist.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    So there already selling a car that they make “jointly”. Perhaps they could sell rebadged Chevy Cruzes or Sparks and become the Toyota Geo.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I can’t quite tell if you’re winking and referring to history, or if you think you’re being sarcastic. :-)

      For those who don’t know, the history is that Toyota and GM jointly operated the NUMMI plant in California, which made the Chevrolet/Geo Prizm (which was a Toyota Corolla variant). In addition, the Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe are twins with differently styled sheet metal.

      The wikipedia article:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NUMMI

      If you’ve got an hour, here’s the story told from the worker’s perspective:
      http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/403/nummi

      When GM went bankrupt, they pulled out of NUMMI. Toyota followed suit, and the plant was abandoned. Eventually, part of it was sold to Tesla Motors and is building a few (very cool) cars again.

      So, there really is historical precedent for a Toyota/Chevy Geo something-or-other! Adding Scion into the mix would be a new element, but probably inevitable if they were going to do this again.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    “The competition, which begins today, has young, entrepreneurial artists, musicians, designers and fashionistas vying for a chance to get start-up funding from Scion.”

    Sounds more like bullshit pandering. Why aren’t they incubating ideas for things that people actually need? They could at least include application developers. F’ing bread and circus.

    • 0 avatar
      forraymond

      Bullshit pandering is more like Romney and the evermore biased attempt at journalism on this site.

      And, no, you did not build that, dbag!

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        “And, no, you did not build that, dbag!”

        Have you actually heard what Obama said? This is one of those quotes where the context actually does matter. The “that” which Obama was referring to is roads, bridges, and technology, which make it at lot easier to run a business — not the business itself. I grew up in a small-business family and I know how you put your heart and soul in to building a business.

        But, no, *you* did not build the bridge that you use to get to work – and, yes, it does make it easier to run a business and makes everyone wealthier — including you, including me, and including people who don’t live anywhere near you and me. That is the point that Obama was trying to make. If you don’t believe him, I invite you to read the middle chapters in any economics textbook to explore the argument.

        Obama was trying to make a point that both private business and government are necessary for a civilized society with a high standard of living. In a post Tea Party political climate, that’s a pretty liberal thing to say.

        But, if you’re going to beat up on the guy for being a liberal (which is totally fair), could you at least beat up on what he *meant*, rather than on how he said it? Just repeating the comment the way you did only tells me which column you’re in. Since I don’t know you, I don’t have any reason to trust your opinion — like me, you’re just some guy spouting off on the Internet. But, if you tell me something I don’t know about the issue, or thoughtfully tell me about why your vision of the world might be better, your words will carry much more weight.

        On the other hand, if your only goal to let everyone know which team you’re batting for, then you’re doing just fine. If you want to hit a home run, though, you’ve got to actually put ideas onto the page and make your case!

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        Why was this a reply to my post? I was talking about the nature of the “industries” i.e. music, art, and fashion, that they were incubating, dbag.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Detroit Iron: “Why aren’t they incubating ideas for things that people actually need? They could at least include application developers”

        I have some pretty good guesses about why Scion’s incubator would avoid software developers and biotech.

        Those are sectors that are already served by a lot venture capitalists. Despite the drawbacks of using VC, these folks have a lot of cash, they have a lot of expertise, and they compete to fund the “best” ventures. Scion would be a distraction here, or maybe an also-ran.

        On the other hand, I have four very smart and very talented friends who started an engineering-literate design studio, and who are building a real business and need capital for CNC machines and other tools. The VCs aren’t interested in my friends business, because they’re just hoping to make a good living running a solid business by serving customers — rather than changing the world and reap the profits. But their venture is also nebulous enough (100% customer-driven) that it’s hard for them to convince a bank to lend them $200k or so for a room full of CNC machines, too. In other words, my friends are building a real business but, since they’re doing something that doesn’t match the profiles that either banks or VCs are looking for, they’re falling through the cracks and have to build their business the hard way.

        It sounds like Scion is funding these kind of ventures for the PR attention. If that’s their goal, then breaking even on funding a venture like my friend’s business would be a win for all involved.

        Anyway, I think that’s the reason they’e funding artists rather than Android App Developers, or whatever: brutal competition from VCs, and that whole scene really wrecks the feel-good factor. Help a starving starving designer buy a CNC machine so that they can make a solid living, though, and they get their money back and get a really awesome feel-good story. Win!

        Did I answer your question this time?

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        @luke

        I was replying to forraymond, hence the otherwise uncalled for ad hominem attack. As far as the businesses that Toyota is supporting, I still say that it is better to make something that people actually need, like cattle cars to take people to the camps once Obama gets reelected.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Detroit Iron:

        LOL. Dude, you need to meet some real Democrats one day. Calm down. We actually have two competent candidates running this time. I disagree pretty with Romney on both social, economic and family issues, but the guy actually seems to have done his homework while he was governor of Massachusetts. Obama’s done a fine job as a moderate-left pragmatist. We’ve had much worse candidates in very recent memory.

        No cattle cars required. I have no idea where you got that idea, unless you’re going to voluntarily withdraw from society after an Obama victory – which is entirely up to you!

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I’m an Independent. I don’t like Obama and I don’t like Romney. Having said that, though, I do not believe that a second Obama term would be good for MOST Americans, unless they are standing in Obama’s welfare line.

        But I am also equally convinced that Obama will indeed be re-elected to a second term because there simply are not enough people in the 106 counties of the eight swing states that will decide the upcoming election, who will rally behind Romney.

        Unless there is some divine intervention, we would be well advised to prepare ourselves for four more years of Obama and democrat policies, and safeguard or shelter our interests accordingly.

        Remember, it’s the working people and businesses who fund Obama’s socialist projects with their taxes so now is the time to get on the welfare bandwagon and start to take out instead of putting in.

        You can always undo what you did if Romney gets elected. That’s why so many businesses are going to be laying off people by year’s end. They can always hire them back if things get better under Romney. Or not.

  • avatar

    “The competition, which begins today, has young, entrepreneurial artists, musicians, designers and fashionistas vying for a chance to get start-up funding from Scion.”

    Scion is stressing how this is open to “creatives”. Frankly, I’d rather they opened up the competition to other kinds of startups, perhaps those with relevance to the automotive world. Lonny Doyle needs $40K to build the next prototype of his engine.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      ” Frankly, I’d rather they opened up the competition to other kinds of startups”

      Indeed, there is a lot wrong with the way the venture capital system works today. It’s a patronage system, and you give up a lot of control of the company (in exchange for being coached by a bunch of MBAs and some capital). Avoiding VC seems like an excellent business decision, if you have the option.

      Another problem with the VC business is that it’s fad-ish. In order to get VC funding (if you need it), you need to be in the right industry and be doing something that might be a home run. Solid businesses that are going to make a 5% return on capital doing something useful-but-not-sexy need not apply.

      Given what Toyota/Scion trying to achieve here, there’s a real chance to play the VC game in a less pathological way, and start some good useful/profitable/productive businesses that wouldn’t be funded by regular VCs and wouldn’t be funded by a regular bank. Scion’s goal here is presumably to break even and get some good press — rather than to try to make a 1000% returns on 10% of the ventures they fund. That could make some jobs (making customers), make some honestly positive press, and all for way less than the cost of a regular advertising campaign. This seems like a pretty good way to adapt to the post-TV media world, too.

      • 0 avatar

        Luke,

        I was just reading about how a lot of non-financial companies are starting to replace commercial banks as a source of credit for small businesses. Business to business credit has always been the bulk of commercial credit (e.g. 30 days net), but now the idea is expanding into areas formerly serviced by traditional banks, now a bit tightfisted with money when it comes to small businesses. Walmart’s Sam’s Club is now extending its customers up to $25,000 in credit and Amazon has its Amazon Capital Services that loans money to small companies that market through amazon.com.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Ronnie: That sounds like a great development, and with the ease of electronic bookkeeping and communications, I’ve thought it was a little odd how long the bank model of business credit has lasted.

        Anything that makes it easier for people to start businesses! Running a small business is a very satisfying and respectable way to live.

        (I imagine we’ll disagree on some of the details of what we can do to make life easier for small business owners — but let’s save that for another day. The goal is the same!)

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Love the idea of this, but agree it should have been opened up to any innovative start-up in contrast to ‘creatives.’ The best thing about this approach is that it can be repeated and can grow. If I were Toyota, i’d be talking to state governments about a matching-grant program.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    This is great. Maybe Scion will discover the next Hello Kitty or better yet Sailor Moon!


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