Ohio’s Incubators: HCDC Helping Entrepreneurs Build Startups Since 1989

Written by Robert Leitch.

There’s a lot to be said for experience and growing wiser with age.  The same could be said for an organization like HCDC Inc., an incubator funded by Ohio Third Frontier in Cincinnati, Ohio. HCDC opened in 1989, and its’ years of experience building businesses provides local entrepreneurs with a roadmap for startup success.

HCDC offers entrepreneurs access to on-site business coaching, mentoring and networking opportunities. It can connect entrepreneurs with partners like CincyTech and Queen City Angels, and can help businesses secure funding and financing. There are 72,000 square feet of space available to businesses, plus delivery bays for shipping.

“The quality space and services we received from HCDC helped fuel the propulsion that rocketed us from two employees to 25 in six months,” said Randy Wilhelm, CEO and co-founder of Knovation.  The company is a graduate of HCDC that creates personalized software solutions for students with learning barriers.

HCDC is one of the largest and most successful full-service business incubators in the United States. The organization focuses on technology businesses in both hardware (advanced manufacturing, materials, environmental) and software (IT, sensors, instrumentation) and is currently home to 64 companies. Their facility offers these companies different types of work spaces – from offices and labs to workshops and warehouses.

“I started here as a design engineer but now I’m a business owner focusing more and more on how to strategically grow my business.,” said Brad Thompson, owner of Resolution Air, Ltd., a company that creates pinch valves to control the flow of liquid and gas. “HCDC’s Business Center helped me transform an idea into a legitimate business.”

Entrepreneurs go to HCDC with their business idea and a need for work space. Before they can join the incubator, they meet with coaches to discuss their business plan and set benchmarks to achieve their goals. If the company is deemed a good fit after these sessions, they are able to join the incubator and start renting space.

“HCDC helped me out even before I moved in. Going to all the events and meeting other entrepreneurs gave me an understanding of the skills and knowledge needed to launch a successful startup,” said Brad Ruff, CEO of GeckoTek, a HCDC resident company that creates build plates for 3D printers. “When I made my jump, it was an easy transition and now I have the resources to scale as big and as fast as I want.”

The incubator program has been home to over 300 companies that have created more than 2,300 jobs. In its 25 years, the incubator has developed a proven track record including a 70% success rate for startups after five years of business, six times the national average. HCDC companies have grown from simple ideas to over seven figures in revenue, some even making it to the New York Stock Exchange.

“Ohio’s continued investment in HCDC’s incubation program not only validates our track record of producing strong startup companies for over 25 years, but it also has a huge return on investment in terms of jobs, increasing the tax base and strengthening our communities,” said Patrick Longo, director of HCDC.

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