President, NextCorps, Inc.
Years in current role: 13
What was your biggest success in 2021?
NextCorps was excited to launch the new “Embark” software startup accelerator program in 2021. After hearing community input and customer demand for dedicated programs to support more software startups, we were able to secure a federal grant from the EDA, and engage a dozen community partners like RIT, UR, Excell Partners and many others, to get this effort launched. Our inaugural cohort has 40 founders participating – far exceeding our expectations – and validating the community demand. Embark is now the 6th different program offered by NextCorps to help create and grow innovative companies. Across all of those programs NextCorps supported more than 200 different businesses in 2021, and we look forward to doing even more in the coming years.
What are your expectations for 2022?
I expect – assuming no new COVID setbacks – that 2022 will see a significant increase in in-person gatherings, events, and get-togethers, and the rekindling and strengthening of relationships. We will also see significant growth and excitement in the Rochester area. Businesses have continued to operate throughout the pandemic, downtown Rochester projects have continued to move forward, there have been major positive announcements related to Roc the Riverway, Constellation Brands new HQ, the new state park at High Falls, and many others. As people start to see some of these projects coming to life, and start to engage in more activities and events, I think we are going to see a new wave of optimism and growth here in our community.
What is your biggest takeaway from dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?
It’s hard to try to come up with a “biggest” takeaway from the pandemic – which we are still dealing with of course. But from a business standpoint, a “big” takeaway is that an organization really can undergo massive, overnight shifts in how it has to operate, and as long as you have great people in the organization, you can do so without really skipping a beat. NextCorps is lucky to have an incredibly talented team and, as such, we were able to pivot as needed while still serving all our client companies. The advice to: hire great people, help them where and when needed, but otherwise stay out of the way and let them lead their respective areas of responsibility and expertise, is spot on. The pandemic has been a great reminder that it’s all about people, and don’t forget it!