Friday, August 7, 2015

The Bit Factory: Akron's Startup Incubator

This piece first appeared in the August/issue #11 of  The Devil Strip--our new, twice monthly, arts & culture newspaper in Akron. Issue #11 is now available-- go out and pick up a copy!

The Bit Factory: Akron’s Startup Incubator
by Brit Charek

I have to admit that one of that one of my favorite things that I’ve done this summer was binge-watching HBO’s Silicon Valley. So when I was invited to take a tour of The Bit Factory, a tech startup incubator run by the Akron Global Business Accelerator, I was halfway expecting an environment akin to Erlich’s house, complete with a group of socially-challenged developers and coders awkwardly coping with the existential dilemmas of startup life where the line between work and home life is blurry if not completely nonexistent, all for my viewing pleasure.

Let’s just say that The Bit Factory is a few notches up from Erlich’s house.

Thanks to a grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation and the talents of designer Dominic Falcione of Rubber City Fab, the space is beautifully designed around a collaborative philosophy where startup companies work closely together. In addition to providing members with space, The Bit Factory has a plethora of resources it provides its startups, including a mentorship program.

And of course, The Bit Factory is available to its tenants 24/7. Because, startup life.

“The fact that there’s an internet startup accelerator in Akron is just one reason why Northeast Ohio has arrived as a startup community,” says Annal Vyas, Program Director for The Bit Factory. Vyas teaches full time at the University of Akron School of Law, where he organized the NEXTOhio Internet Startup Conference, but is loaned to the Akron Accelerator one day a week to assist with various initiatives, with The Bit Factory being one.

Akron, in particular, has truly arrived as a startup community. Just this week the city was named a "TechHire City" by the White House as part of a new federal program aimed at providing technology job training programs.

“Before, people thought they had to move to the coasts to work on sophisticated technology startups,” continues Vyas. “Now, they’re realizing that there’s so much activity and energy in their own backyard, and that this region is a great place to start a company.”

Vyas hopes to expand The Bit Factory’s programming to host evening events that will generate a culture of innovation, not just in the tech scene but also the art scene here in Akron. On Thursday, August 6th, they hosted a brainstorming sessions for artists and creative businesspeople interested in sketching out ideas for the upcoming Knight Arts Challenge.

In 2017, The Bit Factory plans to launch Bits and Atoms, a makers’ space that will provide entrepreneurs access to technology and equipment that will continue to fuel creativity and innovation in Akron.

To learn more about the Bit Factory, or to keep up with future events, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

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