How the Warren incubator wants to make the world a better place, starting with northeast Ohio
All around Ohio, there are resources available to help promising young companies thrive. But if your startup is focused on energy tech or renewable resources, there might be a specific resource available just for you. Based in Warren, BRITE Energy Innovators have been helping energy-oriented companies grow since 2011. They provide specialized mentoring, help connect companies to funding, work through business plans and more, all with the goal of a cleaner, more efficient world.
“BRITE is Ohio’s energy tech business incubator,” said marketing and events specialist Daniel Sylak. “We support startups across the state of Ohio in the energy space, which encompasses a lot more than people might initially think — from typical, conventional energy ideas like the grid and utility management to renewable energy sources like solar, wind power and electric vehicles. We provide mentorship and one-on-one guidance, and assist startups in building efficiency, sustainable and advanced materials, electrification or e-Mobility, drones, software and communication.”
Leading BRITE is President and CEO Rick Stockburger, an experienced former entrepreneur with a wealth of knowledge and a passion for the project. He said the decision to go from his own startups to helping others was about “people and service,” and draws from a lifetime of experience — in and out of the business world — to help boost the businesses he works with.
“From the Army to starting my own companies, it’s been all about helping others reach their dreams and change their little corner of the world. At BRITE, I get to do just that,” he said. “But not only do the technologies that are being created by our founders help change our little corner of the world through jobs and investment, they can change the entire globe by building technologies that make the world a better place. I believe that we are just borrowing this Earth from our children, and I hope to hand it off to them better than I found it.”
In order to achieve their lofty goals, BRITE offers resources in a variety of areas. From advice to funding and everything in between, startups that are working toward the goals that BRITE outlines can come find their path to success.
“We have experienced entrepreneurs in residence that provide guidance and mentorship to our companies, and our staff also provides a lot of support,” said Sylak. “Rick himself has had three startups, two of which he exited successfully. So he provides a lot of guidance for our startups, helping them navigate those processes. We also help them with strategy and data, relationship management and events and programs that help add value.”
Since launching in 2011, BRITE’s method has resulted in a variety of success stories. In addition to the many companies who have grown with their help, some have earned major recognition as well. Last year, BRITE-affiliated startups Intwine Connect and GeneratorWorks were specifically highlighted in a White House report on the national opportunity zone plan, which encourages public and private investment in urban and economically distressed areas. For Stockburger, these stories and BRITE’s success showcase the momentum in Ohio.
“For too long our greatest export from Ohio has been talented young people,” he said. “We are on the precipice of being able to lead the country in vehicle electrification and energy storage. Entrepreneurs from all over the country want to be in Ohio to be a part of that change. Entrepreneurs that already know the great things Ohio has to offer are flocking back home to grow the next great American economy.”