Community leaders involved in the implementation and development of the technology incubator can breathe a sigh of relief now that a new president and CEO has been chosen.
Gary Markle, a long-time Colorado Springs businessman and successful entrepreneur, was the chosen leader from nearly 300 applicants from around the country. Four board members extensively interviewed four candidates, basing their choice on 11 criteria, said Alan Steiner, chairman of the incubator’s board of directors.
Markle, a Colorado Springs resident since 1990, stood out in the crowd because of his entrepreneurial experience, said Steiner. He was also chosen because of his “infectious” enthusiasm, his excellent local network of contacts in the high-tech industry, and the high level of respect he engenders from other business people in the community.
And Markle knows what it takes for a business to be successful. In his latest venture he was founder, president and CEO of Personalogy Inc., for which he secured $750,000 in angel funding. He previously served as divisional president for Emergent Information Technology Inc., where he achieved 45-percent growth in the consulting division during his one-year tenure. The preceding five years had him at Systems Integration Software Inc. as founder, president and CEO.
Markle will take the incubator’s reins Monday, he said, but his official start date is March 15.
Despite the economic slowdown, Markle said he believes the technology incubator will be successful, citing an 80-percent success rate of other incubators around the country. In addition, he said, venture capital companies, which have typically invested in larger companies in the past, are re-thinking their stance on smaller, well-developed businesses that have been slowly groomed for success.
“While the economy finds its way, (there is a) window of opportunity to bring them in, incubate them,” said Markle. “And venture capital (companies) are still investing in good, solid (companies).”
Steiner admits that plans for the incubator “got off to a slow start” last summer, but the board of directors and advisory-committee members have since secured a three-year grant from the city of Colorado Springs for $156,000. Last January, the Colorado Economic Development Corp., based in Denver granted the organization an additional $156,000. With other donations, the organization now has about $480,000.
This start-up money will be used to pay salaries and establish services for presentations to potential entrepreneurs. Although office space at the CITTI building at CU-The Springs is being donated for Markle’s use, locations for the first of three potential incubator sites is being selected. The board of directors is looking at the Garden of the Gods corridor, the Briargate area, and the downtown area. The chosen location depends on rent and availability, said Steiner.
“This is big for the community,” said Steiner. “It provides the support necessary in all aspects of growing a successful business. Companies that graduate from incubators have a significantly higher success rate than those that don’t, and what you end up with is vibrant companies whose headquarters are here.
“You keep that investment and intellectual power.”