A software company buying another – it happens all the time in the business world. But the story of Ithaca’s GORGES Inc. Push Interactive runs deeper than the deal; it involves a network of public and private partners, among them Rev, Ithaca’s downtown business incubator.
Over the last several months, Ithaca-based mobile application developer Push Interactive found its feet as a member of Rev: Ithaca Startup Works. A partnership among Cornell, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3), Rev helps startups navigate the complex challenges of being a young company by providing mentorship as well as office space, and serving as a conduit for that crucial early period of growth. It also embodies Cornell’s commitment to create jobs and support entrepreneurship that benefits Ithaca, Tompkins County and the rest of New York.
The brainchild of a team of recent Ithaca College graduates that includes CEO Austin Shoecraft, Push develops applications that match businesses with customers based on their location. For instance, the app senses Bluetooth signals, called iBeacons, inside apartment buildings, where users can immediately receive descriptions and photos of the building’s open units.
GORGES, an Ithaca-based custom software developer with services in industry, retail and education, had been expanding into mobile, wearable and what’s called “nearable” technologies – wireless devices broadcasting information to nearby mobile devices.
“This is what Push brings to the table,” said GORGES CEO John Sammis, MBA ’91. “We see a lot of opportunities for growth in the nearables market, and to be able to access that technology and wisdom from Push will allow us to offer a richer set of solutions to our customers.”
The acquisition was catalyzed by entrepreneur-in-residence Brad Treat, MBA '02, who is CEO of Ithaca-based Mezmeriz, and a lecturer in entrepreneurship at both Ithaca College and Cornell. He acted as “matchmaker,” he said, in part because Shoecraft took his class at Ithaca College, and the Push plan had received early support from an Ithaca student business competition. The team decided to stay in Ithaca and grow with Rev’s help – a decision based entirely on the network of support that Shoecraft and his co-founders had found in Tompkins County.
“At Rev, and from Brad, we were able to get advice and gain experience every step of the way,” Shoecraft said. “Without Rev this most likely would not have happened.”
“The acquisition of Push Interactive by GORGES Inc. is a testament to the strength of the entrepreneurial community here in Ithaca,” Treat said. “The merger highlights the potential synergies between new or student-founded companies and existing companies looking to grow in the area.”
Rev, which has welcomed 17 members since it opened in September 2014, is part of the Southern Tier Innovation Hot Spot, a regional economic development initiative with support from New York state’s Regional Economic Development Council. It considers applications from any qualifying company, regardless of affiliation with Cornell, Ithaca College or TC3.
The Rev member community has “exploded in growth” since the September grand opening, said incubator coordinator Alec Mitchell. Member companies include Ursa Space Systems, which is building cost-effective, efficient survey satellites, and Copper Horse Coffee, a small-batch coffee roasting company.