Over the course of the pandemic, a number of Koffman members received the designation of ‘graduate’, a title given to those who have successfully outgrown the resources or space in the incubator. These companies saw success in spite of COVID, moving out of the incubator into larger offices, labs and warehouses to continue growth.

Since the opening of the incubator in 2017 through the start of the pandemic in early 2020 there had been 11 total graduates. Between March of 2020 to March of 2021 another 8 companies have successfully graduated from the incubator, and have big plans moving forward with their ventures.

A recent event brought graduates back to the incubator for a proper celebration of their achievement and for a chance to reconnect and share stories of their growth since graduation. An ice cream truck, Nirchi’s pizza, cool beverages and lawn games welcomed dozens of members as summer was kicked off in style.

Brittany Carbone, founder and CEO of graduate #12 TONIC, shared insight on their time at the incubator.

“TONIC offers farm to bottle CBD products and had joined the incubator in March of 2019. The dedicated manufacturing space we had in the incubator combined with peers and advisors to support our scaling the business,” said Carbone. “We opened up a dedicated manufacturing and processing facility, bought out own building. We have a certified organic hemp farm and are continuing to grow.”

Another guest of honor at the event was graduate #15 Darren LaPadula of Wickcheed, a startup specializing in custom software applications.

“I was looking for co-working spaces to expand outside of my home and collaborate with others,” said LaPula. “It was great to be with others who had the energy and drive to start a business and expand. The SBDC was in the building and there were mentors right downstairs ready to help.”

Graduates were greeted with mini-cakes sporting their company’s logo and Koffman-branded cupcakes for the other attendees. Owners, employees, staff, sponsors and local business leaders had the chance to connect face-to-face for the first time in over a year, sharing insight, stories and support on a beautiful summer afternoon.

Learn more about graduates as well as current members on the ‘startups’ webpage here: https://southerntierincubator.com/membercompanies/