Back in January, it was a barely touched construction space, and it didn’t yet have a name.
On Sept. 22, more than 100 people gathered at Rev, Ithaca’s downtown business incubator, to witness how far it’s come.
The grand opening of Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, drew together local government leaders, business partners and higher education officials to celebrate the collaborative venture’s newly finished space and to welcome its first four members.
A place for regional entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, use workspace and receive mentorship from seasoned professionals, Rev, located at 314 E. State St., Ithaca, is a partnership among Cornell, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College. Among others, President David Skorton, IC President Tom Rochon and TC3 president Carl Haynes were on hand to celebrate and to take note of the many partners who have shaped every aspect of Rev, from its mission to its physical space.
Skorton said Cornell is thrilled to be a partner in Rev, which will deliver entrepreneurial education and support to entrepreneurs. “We in education need to develop more creative partnerships with government and with the private sector for the benefit of our communities. It is a public, private, governmental partnership, working with our local community and New York state, to make Rev a reality.”
Rev is part of the Southern Tier Innovation Hot Spot, a regional economic development initiative that received funding from New York state’s Regional Economic Development Council in 2013. It is open to any qualifying entrepreneurs, regardless of whether they’re affiliated with Cornell, IC or TC3.
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 added his thanks to Skorton, Rochon and Haynes for locating the incubator in the city of Ithaca, thus allowing it to remain on the tax rolls.
Rev is intended for all types of businesses, as evidenced by its first four members: GiveGab, a social network to connect volunteers and nonprofit organizations; Push Interactive, which makes mobile applications to allow businesses to beam relevant content to users; ShipIndex, an online database for researching maritime vessels; and Audiarchy, a company that develops senior-friendly assistive listening devices.
Jake Reisch ’15, whose startup Audiarchy created “Party Headphones” when Reisch was a junior at Cornell, is now working on its next product, a wireless headset for seniors with hearing loss.
“The important thing to stay persistent in a startup is to have people that surround you who are also equally motivated and excited and passionate about what they’re doing, and that helps your team stay excited as well,” Reisch said. He and the Audiarchy team are also grateful for the opportunity to interact with Rev’s entrepreneurs in residence, who will offer advice and mentorship to help them grow, he added.
Mentors introduced during the Rev event include Ken Rother, a member of the teaching team for Cornell’s student incubator, eLab, and a venture partner in the Cayuga Venture Fund; Brad Treat, an instructor in practical entrepreneurship at IC and Cornell and CEO of Mezmeriz, a high-tech startup; and Brian Bauer, an energy industry executive with experience in renewables, oil, natural gas and chemicals.
Visitors milled through the newly remodeled space, designed by Snyder Architects, whose overhaul was overseen by Ithaca developer and building owner Frost Travis, whom the three college presidents thanked for his partnership. Rev is a modern, flexible, co-working environment with a large open main space and conference rooms.
Also announced during the event was the new Southern Tier Hardware Accelerator, a pilot program which will be housed at Rev, for companies that make physical products. For example, the hardware accelerator can make use of Rev’s workspace, which includes tools, equipment and workbenches. The Southern Tier Innovation Hot Spot, which Rev is a part of, was awarded a Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund to pilot the accelerator.
Plans are in place to expand Rev into a third floor in the building, which is known to locals as the Carey building.