A Location for Innovation in Ithaca
Blue and orange chairs surround wooden conference tables. Several whiteboards are set up around the space. Many of the windows overlook the snowy streets of Ithaca below. All around the space, there are people on their laptops, some working alone and some working with one another. Common throughout this space is a spirit of collaboration and entrepreneurship.
This is the environment at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, a co-working space that provides resources for startups and small businesses in the Ithaca community. In addition to a two-floor co-working space for businesses and entrepreneurs, Rev Ithaca also offers member-only networking events. A product of collaboration between Ithaca College, Cornell University and Tompkins Cortland Community College, the Rev Ithaca space is intended to provide access and advice to small business companies by offering connections to other business experts. The company currently hosts 32 member companies.
The Rev Ithaca space has expanded since its initial opening in September 2014. While the original location was only one floor on the Ithaca Commons, Rev Ithaca transferred to a two-floor space on East State Street this past September. With the transition, Bonnie Sanborn, communications coordinator at Rev, said it has allowed Rev to increase the number member-only events they host, such as a monthly meet-and-eat.
“It’s been really nice to have the full space open again because we can have all the community events we want to hold, presentations and workshops,” she said.
Rev Ithaca also helps to facilitate partnerships between businesses in the area with growing start-up companies through networking events. Sanborn added Rev Ithaca was unaware of the potential connections that could arise between businesses in Ithaca and start-ups.
“I think we just didn’t anticipate, when Rev opened two years ago, how much people in the established business community would want to meet start ups,” she said. “The networking nights have always been really popular but realizing just how excited people are from local companies to sit with a start-up and talk to them, I think we’ve yet to kind of reach the bottom of that well of interest.”
In regards to networking opportunities, Sanborn said Rev Ithaca also helps startups with finding potential sources of funding.
“We have connected start-ups with a lot of smaller local partners or angel investors that then create a bridge to a funder from California or Seattle or Texas,” she said. “And so the other network that we have that is really powerful for start-ups is those funding connections that each of our entrepreneurs and residents have.”
Rev Ithaca has partnered with several small business around the area, including Firelight Camps, a “glamping” company that offers luxurious camping trips to those interested in camping at the La Tourelle Resort and Spa in Ithaca.
Greg Tumbarello, general manager of Firelight Camps in Ithaca, said the company has partnered with Rev since it opened in 2014, and has followed it throughout its transition period to its new two-floor space. He said working in the space and partnering with Rev Ithaca has benefitted Firelight Camps.
“It’s like they’re a gym,” he said, “but for businesses.”
With Rev Ithaca in its second year and expanding, Jeremiah Cotman, coordinator at Rev, said the company is constantly finding ways to build on its dedication to start-up companies and entrepreneurialism.
“We’re really finding what is necessary to reach that mission of being a successful incubator for start-ups,” he said. “We are constantly expanding our programs to figure out how to better serve the entrepreneurship community.”
A version of this story was first published in Ithaca Week: ithacaweek-ic.com
Celisa Calacal and Max Denning are both third-year journalism majors that are learning how to code in Java just in case.