Five companies graduate from RIT’s Venture Creations business incubator

Thursday, October 29, 2015

By Vienna McGrain


Elizabeth Lamark/RIT Production Services
Paul Solt, left, an RIT graduate and founder of Artwork Evolution, explains his business to Yolegmma Marquez, center, and Dana Wolcott at an Oct. 28 event honoring graduates of RIT’s Venture Creations business incubator. Artwork Evolution, a software development studio that builds creative apps for the iPhone and iPad, was one of five companies recognized.

Venture Creations, the business incubator at Rochester Institute of Technology, celebrated the launch of five new businesses at a graduation ceremony Oct. 28.

In addition to recognizing the business start ups, the event featured a networking reception and a keynote address delivered by Austin McChord, a 2009 RIT graduate and founder and CEO of Datto, Inc.

The graduating companies are:

• Artwork Evolution—a software development studio that builds creative apps for iPhone and iPad

• Freshop, Inc.—offers comprehensive, customizable and modern online grocery shopping technology designed to provide independent grocers with access to affordable technology that can increase their profitability

• IMSworkX—a telecommunications software company providing service layer applications and solutions for the emerging all-IP communications network.

• Optic Sky Productions— a concept-to-completion production company and feature film post house employing a collective of production professionals

RadianGEN/EnergyWise—delivers solar asset management and field services enabling customers to generate higher return on investment on solar and wind assets.

Together, the five companies will introduce 31 new jobs into the economy.

“Venture Creations is a critical piece of RIT’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem,” said Ryne Raffaele, RIT’s vice president for research. “It’s critical that we have an end-to-end capability for start ups and the Venture Creations incubator provides the ‘last mile’ in the business creation journey. Not only is this a great day for Venture Creations and these five graduating companies, it is a great day for entrepreneurship in Rochester.”

Raffaele also mentioned that each of the graduating companies includes at least one founder who is an RIT graduate, and four of the graduating companies have engaged RIT students in their business’ development.

As a unit, Venture Creations promotes regional economic development; 26 out of 30 graduating Venture Creations companies continue to run their businesses out of New York state.

“RIT’s Venture Creations incubator proudly offers faculty, staff, students and community members the tools to transform their high-technology ideas into viable businesses,” said Richard Notargiacomo, incubator director. “By providing quality coaching, professional consulting and connections with industry professionals, Venture Creations creates an environment where new businesses can develop and thrive. Rochester is on a journey toward becoming an innovation hub, and Venture Creations is proud to be part of that blossoming ecosystem.”

Shannon Chevier, president and CEO of IMSWorkX, talked about what she has gained from working with Venture Creations and the future of her company.

“Joining Venture Creations was the best move our company ever made,” she said. “It’s amazing to have a place where we can work, interact, collaborate, connect with a mentor, and have a continuous learning experience of working with lots of different people. And the next there are people who rally around you.”

Chevier, who earned her master’s degree in software development and management from RIT in 1999, said her company plans to hire new employees and move into a new location.

Venture Creations was created in 2003 to establish an environment where new and technologically innovative businesses could develop from the research conducted or sponsored by RIT, translating academic research into commercially viable high technology. The incubator was designed to provide services to incubating companies, facilitating the design, development, construction and operation of these companies for the purpose of advancing the educational and research missions of the Institute through the enhancement of faculty, student and staff involvement in high technology. It was also created to promote economic development and competitiveness in Monroe County and New York State by encouraging and facilitating the transfer of technology resources to the marketplace. Thirty-one companies, including this most recent group, have graduated from the incubator and together have created 439 jobs.