After developing an idea for a new business, entrepreneurs often face an uphill battle when it comes to getting that idea to take flight.
Helping them do just that is the goal of Venture Creations, a business incubator located a mile away from the RIT campus. Started in 2003, the organization selects founders of technology-based companies who have progressed beyond the ideas stage to the “mid-seed stage.”
Founders then get access to office space, along with professional guidance and assistance from incubator staff.
After three years of fine tuning their business model, founders graduate from the program to relocate and make room for more. The program is selective, too — only one out of six startups are chosen. Roughly 18 young companies are based at Venture Creations at a given time, and a half-dozen are virtually connected.
“My mission simply is to create high-growth companies in Western New York,” said director Bill Jones.
The incubator graduates about six companies every year. More than half of founders are RIT graduates, and some faculty also have startups.
“You hear a lot of government politicians saying our economic growth comes from small companies, but it’s actually only a percentage of small companies,” said Jones.
After conducting a study at VC, Jones found that the number one problem startups face is lack of project management discipline.
“You need someone to keep you focused, so if they’re here we can check in with them and help where they most need it,” he said.
Chris Carter is an entrepreneur in residence at VC. He said that, in general, people trying to launch a startup are new to a lot of the basics.
“Early on, there’s no way they have all the skillsets to get everything done,” he said. “The incubator helps augment the knowledge the entrepreneurs have. The concept is really that of building an ecosystem through mentors and networking.”
This was the case for Casey Jordan and Patrick Borsek, whose software development company, Jorsek, got off the ground with help from Venture Creations.
The Penfield natives, now both 28, graduated from Penfield High School together in 2003. They started their business two years later while in college.
Business began to pick up after they finished school, however. Once they were accepted into Venture Creations, it soon became Jorsek’s home base.
Jorsek celebrated its “graduation” last week at Venture Creations as it now operates out of an office of its own in the Village Gate. Their long-term goal is to add 20 more people to their staff of 10 employees who provide content management system software for technical publications.
Both founders said being surrounded by current and former entrepreneurs during their time at VC proved invaluable.
Page 2 of 2 - “It’s a very supportive place,” said Borsek. “You can walk down the hall and there are a lot of people here in the same boat, so it’s unlike any other office building.”
His partner said that having an office is one step in paving the way for growth within the company itself.
“It gives you confidence and legitimizes the fact that you are a big business,” said Jordan.
Since much of their work is digital, one of their long-distance clients even flew to Rochester to see where they worked before closing on a deal.
“What better address is there than Tech Park Drive?” joked Borsek.