Name your cliche. 'You rub my back I'll rub yours.' 'It takes two to tango.' Whatever the example, the same could be said for what Chamber of Commerce members can do for start-ups inside the SUNY Fredonia Business Technology Incubator, and vice versa.
The SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator in Dunkirk hosted a Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce mixer event Thursday evening to introduce Chamber members to three of the most advanced start-up companies, in terms of development, inside the incubator. The three companies that made brief presentations before the audience of around 50 individuals were: Textivia, Dunkirk Bio-Electric and SellingHive.
"These are the guys that are furthest along," noted Robert H. Fritzinger, SUNY Fredonia Business Technology Incubator Director. "They have raised some money, they're starting to hire, and they are going to be our flagships for the next six months. There's more to come behind them, but these are our first three launches. We want to make sure everyone in the community is aware of what's happening."
The Chamber mixes it up at the Incubator
According to Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Todd Tranum, the Chamber holds networking events throughout the county similar to Thursday's event at the incubator.
"We try and highlight assets within the county, by our members, and we're really excited about what's going on here at the incubator," Tranum said. "We have been working with the businesses here on some projects and we feel a lot of them really have some great services they can and probably will be offering to our membership, to help our members increase sales and opportunities."
Tranum said he and his team have been interacting with some of the start-up companies and have helped them identify certain resources and have given input for their own business models.
OBSERVER Photo by Michael Rukavina
Robert H. Fritzinger, SUNY Fredonia Business Technology Incubator Director, introduces three of the incubators more advanced companies during a Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce mixer event inside the incubator.
"The key here is this is certainly an important component of the county's economic development strategy to get businesses started, get them harvested and then get them out and into the community," he said. "Our role here is to help facilitate that, as well as, there are some businesses here that offer services that we want to make sure our members are connecting with and making use of."
A few hours during the mixer were given for businesses to get in touch with the highlighted start-up companies, but in between time was made to allow each company show what they could offer for area businesses.
"If you're a business owner - small, medium or large - probably one of your biggest challenges is sales; reaching new markets and new customers," noted SellingHive co-founder Bob Richardson. "You might think technology makes that easier, and in fact technology makes that harder. The more technology there is in the marketplace the more electronic gatekeepers there are to prevent you from meeting the people you need to meet."
Richardson refereed to the online service, Linkedin, which he said looked to disprove or prove that there are 6 people between you and any other person on earth. It turns out there are 3.6 people that connect you to anyone else on earth.
"So you know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who knows the person you want to meet," he said. "What we do at SellingHive is use social networking tools to first and foremost help business owners articulate a sales strategy to decide and create a plan of who it is they want to sell to and what they want to sell them. We connect them to a sales person who knows the exact decision-maker who buys that product or service and we connect them directly. We use social networking tools to get back to the way things used to be, where you did business with someone you know."
SellingHive will be up and running in the second quarter of this year, and through the end of the month anyone who signs up for SellingHive in advance is a free member for life.
Related to the grand scheme of connecting businesses with customers, Textivia looks to take advantage of social networking and mobile devices to help small businesses advertise on much larger scale.
"We're a mobile marketing company and we're trying to become a complete mobile solution," noted Textivia co-founder Ray Christopher. "There are a lot of opportunities for small business to start taking advantage of things like Facebook and text marketing. Big business has jumped on board quickly, reaching 200,000 to 300,000 people with simple give-a-ways."
An example of what Textivia does for businesses, Christopher said, works as if a company like Ellicottville Brewing Company wanted to give away a $25 gift card. An interested person will try and win this prize through the sweepstakes, and after that person enters the contest he or she will be asked if they want to share this with their friends for an additional entry.
"The average person on Facebook has 130 friends. This gets whipped across 130 people. Your name gets branded, but the best part is maybe 10 of those people want to do the same thing," Christopher said. "It keeps on going and going and before you know it you're in front of 3,000 people for a $25 gift card for one monthly fee."
The last of the three presenters was Dunkirk Bio-Electric VP of Operations, Jeffrey Stottlemyer.
"We are working with technology that turns organic waste into energy, and also organic compost, and the process creates jobs," he said. "The technology is called anaerobic digestion similar to compost piles in a back yard but this is in a contained oxygen-less environment and the decomposition produces bio-gas which is similar to natural gas."
Stottlemyer noted the cluster of food processing companies in the area which produce an enormous organic waste stream.
"What we're doing essentially is working with them to create a centralized, consolidated, system that can process their waste and turn it into energy," he noted. "After it is turned into the bio-gas it can be used as energy to help them run their systems."
Each of these companies can be contacted directly at the incubator, 214 central avenue, Dunkirk; or by contacting the companies through their websites: www.sellinghive.com; www.textivia.com; and www.dunkirkbioelectric.com.
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