Growth Report 2017: YBI Reports ‘Unprecedented’ Growth

Editor’s Note: The following story is from Growth Report 2017, published by The Business Journal.

By Barb Ewing, YBI Chief Operating Officer

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Youngstown Business Incubator enjoyed another year marked by unprecedented growth and progress while reaching several impressive milestones. To kick off 2016, YBI became a “Hubspot for Startups” Incubator.

In total, the incubator provided 3,011 hours of coaching, mentoring, and one-on-one support to its in-house clients as well as to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Mahoning Valley. The YBI surveyed more than 3,400 people for its market verification program using Youngstown State University students as a resource.

Our programs – Startup 101, Social Enterprise and Business Model Basics – were well attended by over 1,500 participants throughout the year.

In addition to these programs, the YBI also brought a two-day mindfulness workshop to the Valley with Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute.
Our team has continued to grow. We kicked off our Monus Entrepreneurship Fellows Program, as well as started our Student Worker Assistance Program for our portfolio companies.

The Monus program gives YSU business students the opportunity to work with YBI portfolio companies while gaining professional experiences with tech and advanced manufacturing starts up.

The SWA program is designed to provide resources for our portfolio companies with finding and retaining interns.

In addition, we added another additive manufacturing entrepreneur in residence, Tim Fahey of Team NEO, to our team.

With the growth of our staff, we also began construction to the fifth building of our campus, Tech Block Building 5, in the former Vindicator building downtown.
In a partnership with the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp., Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center, and Youngstown State University, the YBI created Valley Growth Ventures, a $6 million investment fund to invest in early stage technology companies. The fund is expected to invest in its first company later this year.

To support and work with our local companies to analyze and potentially adopt new advanced manufacturing technologies, the YBI secured $5 million in external grants, and we were able to assist 35 businesses with our advanced manufacturing program.

YBI continued its participation in the Northeast Ohio Additive Manufacturing Cluster Study. The cluster study provides a clear vision for the integration of the additive manufacturing supply chain in northeastern Ohio.

This study is proving that the region’s resources for additive manufacturing are abundant and the possibilities are endless.

Also last year, we expanded our Biz3D Program, a five-day 3-D printing summer camp that serves as a way to teach high school students concepts of entrepreneurship using a business model around 3-D printing.

Additionally, the YBI partnered with the Veal Foundation in Cleveland, which intends to use the curriculum in the schools in its network.

YBI conducted its AMPED competition for the second year. In 2016, there were over 15 entries, narrowed down to eight finalists, and four finalists companies will receive prize funding.

2016 was a great year for our portfolio companies. One of our companies, Enyx Studios, is using virtual reality for interactive story-telling. Enyx is a game development studio focused on creating virtual reality content for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR.

The Women in Entrepreneurship program also had an exiting year. The program graduated 30 women from its accelerator program, WE Launch, which awarded $10,000 in grants to Carmella Marie and Red Head Brands, and hosted Breaking Boundaries with Denise DeBartolo-York and Manon Rheaume at Covelli Centre.

With all that 2016 brought us, we are very excited to see what will come in 2017!

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