My Startup Scaleup 2019 Experience

Bill Whittenberger Uncategorized Leave a Comment

SUSU19 Edited-4735

On June 19th I had the pleasure of attending A Poolside Chat with Tiara Thurston from Tesla at Jumpstart’s Startup Scaleup in Cleveland. The interview was conducted by Rick Stockburger, TBEIC’s own President and CEO.

As an engineer, I was amazed by the technical solutions for electric cars and charging infrastructure and home power offered by Tesla. They have a great plan.

As a entrepreneur, I was delighted to hear about the way that Tesla operates their business. I heard a least three key elements: 1) a flat organization, and access to CEO Elon Musk by all, 2) a strong focus by everybody on what the customer wants and needs, and 3) a strong commitment to identifying and solving problems.

We employed this exact formula when creating and operating Catacel Corp. We solved some ridiculously difficult problems, creating a novel catalyst product – Catacel SSR – that disrupts the status quo in hydrogen production, giving customers 25%+ more production from their plants. The business was sold to Johnson Matthey almost 5 years ago, who is using that product to transform their catalyst business and delight their customers. The formula is proven and it works well.

Tesla is using the formula on an even larger scale. I have no doubt that they will be enormously successful, and I would bet the farm on them.

Incubators and Economic Development

Daniel Sylak Uncategorized Leave a Comment

What is Economic Development?

Because no single definition of economic development exists, it is typically described in terms of achievable objectives that contribute to the community’s wellbeing in the long run. Common objectives of economic development are the creation of jobs and wealth, and the improvement of quality of life. To meet these and other objectives, economic development is comprised of three overarching areas of action: policies undertaken by the government to meet economic objectives, policies and programs to provide services such as infrastructure and medical, and policies and programs to improve the business climate.

Why is Economic Development Important?

Whatever the combination of these areas undertaken, economic development always aims to improve the economic wellbeing of a community through a variety of efforts entailing job creation, job retention, tax base enhancements and improving quality of life. Without implementation of policies and programs to aid economic development, growth within communities would slow – potentially even falling off, and quality of life would decrease for community stakeholders. This being said, it is important to have a strong balance of the three areas of action within any community to provide the greatest opportunity for the economy to grow and develop.

How do Incubators Support Economic Development?

In short, business incubators operate within the third area of action; they create programs that improve the business climate. They do this by aiding startup businesses by enabling them to secure financing, helping with their marketing, offering them mentorship and sometimes a space to operate, and in general supporting their operations in a way that allows them to develop their idea and expand their business. When startups experience the growth that an incubator may facilitate, they may bring in more revenue, hire more employees and operate more sustainably long-term. More revenue means they could potentially pay more taxes, hiring more people means job creation for the community in which they operate, and sustainable operations means doing more of both things for a longer period of time.

How Does TBEIC Impact the Community?

TBEIC, as the only energy incubator in Ohio, has made significant contributions to economic development in our community. TBEIC rents space to 19 companies in downtown Warren, Ohio. It has also assisted 192 energy startups since 2012. These clients have employed over 300 people in Northeast Ohio and have secured more than $60 million in funding. Aside from giving access to resources and supporting others to create successful ventures, TBEIC has contributed to economic development by the new jobs these startups have been able to create and the capital they have infused back into the economy.

More Reading:

The evolution of startup incubators – an insider’s view

Do Tech Incubators Work?


Batteries vs. Fuel Cells

Daniel Sylak Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Batteries and fuel cells are ever popular subjects in the ongoing conversation about how we power the world we live in. They are steadfast becoming important components of the energy chain to power things throughout our daily lives. Despite their rising popularity, many people are yet unaware of the differences between the two, their different use applications and why they are increasingly important in our lives.


A battery is a cell or series of cells producing an electrical current through chemical reactions within the cells. Batteries are self-contained and will store a finite amount of energy that is depleted when the reaction reaches completion. Some batteries are intended for one-time use, while others may be recharged multiple times using an electrical source. Some common applications for batteries are consumer electronics like cellphones, car batteries and electric vehicles, pacemakers, emergency response radios, backup power supplies for servers and telephone exchanges and as a power source for off grid homes with inverters.

Fuel Cells

A fuel cell, like a battery, produces electrical current through a chemical reaction, but does so using a system in which a fuel (normally hydrogen, methanol, natural gas, and sometimes diesel fuel) is constantly supplied, and products (water vapor, sometimes CO2) are constantly removed. Therefore, fuel cells are direct converters of the energy derived from the fuels rather than a storage system for the energy like a battery is. Some typical uses for fuel cells are in vehicles as an alternative to combustion engines, backup power generators.


Despite the differences between batteries and fuel, they share one thing in common: they are both integral to the future of energy as we move away from fossil fuels. Both are gaining wider implementation in our daily lives, primarily when it comes to powering transportation, and are key to cleaner transportation.

More Reading:

Fuel Cells | Department of Energy

How Do Batteries Work? | Northwestern

Battery and Fuel Cell Technology | The Electrochemical Society


No Upward Limit

Sara Daugherty Uncategorized Leave a Comment

5.2019 Founders Exchange-1
James Hillegas, Sara Daugherty & Bob Jadloski on May 13th, 2019

May’s Founder’s Exchange featured James Hillegas of Ohio Drone, LLC and Bob Jadloski of Aerial Solutions Experts. The number of certified pilots for aerial photography and other uses is expected to more than quadruple over the next four years, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.  At TBEIC, the need for efficient and lightweight fuel cells is a research and development topic area through the mentorship of companies and usage of the Energy Integration Lab for battery testing and connected devices. 

Mr. Hillegas is an engineer by day who recognized the opportunity for unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor and assess infrastructure assets like bridges. Through Ohio Drone, LLC, he develops software solutions for processing imagery as well as builds drones to meet various industry needs. Mr. Jadloski spent a career in IT and is a renowned photographer that became interested in drones for unique footage. His career as “the drone guy” exploded overnight with his publication of an image of Warren’s Courthouse Square at dawn. During the Exchange, questions were raised about growing competition, robotics integration, and many other topics. Mr. Jadloski stressed that he doesn’t fear competition because of the exponential growth of the industry and the need for trainers and pilots. He stressed the need for a better certification program more focused on small UAVs and ethics. Mr. Hillegas brought up the need for patience when starting a business and the need to be adaptive to new markets as they emerge. 

The Founder’s Exchange is a forum for entrepreneurs to share with others on the challenges and triumphs of startups. 

What is a Startup Incubator?

Daniel Sylak Uncategorized Leave a Comment


Startup companies – fledgling businesses geared towards rapid growth – are increasingly commonplace in the rapidly growing American economy. A source of this growth for many startups comes from their membership in startup incubators. Most incubators provide some level of resources and assistance to startup companies such as office space, mentorship and occasionally even their first round of funding, called seed funding. This is a process that has proven highly successful for many startups, allowing them to secure larger funding and propel their growth to become some of the worlds most recognizable companies.

What is a Startup Incubator?

Put simply, a startup incubator is a business which provides startup companies with the resources, network and mentorship to help them grow early on. Many startups come into incubators with no or little funding. Many incubators provide startups with access to resources like a space to work, a wealth of knowledge or specialized equipment and even low level funding. Utilizing the feedback and advice of mentors, startups can work towards improving their businesses in a way that can allow them access to greater sources of funding. The startup is then connected with individuals and firms in the in the incubator’s network who can provide this level of increased funding.

Why are Incubators Important?

Incubators provide startups with the experience, knowledge and funding that can help startups make their abstract ideas into a profitable reality. These ideas can create a shift in the way we live our lives, making them easier and oftentimes better. When these ideas really take off, they have the potential to create jobs and economic growth, which allow them to create real impact for society and the community at-large. Without the help of an incubator, some of these ideas may never reach their maximum potential to impact the world.

What Role Does TBEIC Play?

TBEIC is an energy and tech startup incubator – and it is the only energy incubator in Ohio. We help startups in the technology and energy sectors through mentorship, the opportunity to co-work and allowing them to rent office space. We provide support through an entrepreneur-in-residence program, workshops to help startups and entrepreneurs develop their skills, and allowing startups to test their products in our facility. By providing this help in the Warren, Ohio area, we create an opportunity for more entrepreneurs to bring their ideas into existence.

More Reading:


Getting Started With Business Incubators