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Berks County’s Jump Start Incubator celebrates five years

Feb 08, 2017 • by Berks County Community Foundation
June Clougher, director of Jump Start Incubator, addresses supporters of the program during its five-year anniversary celebration.

READING, PA – Jump Start Incubator celebrated its five-year anniversary Tuesday with a reception in Reading, welcoming supporters as well as some past and present clients of the initiative that seeks to help new Berks County businesses thrive.

In 2012, Berks County Community Foundation worked with the Kutztown University Small Business Development Center to create Jump Start. As of December 2016, Jump Start had helped 35 companies get their start in Berks. Of those 35, eight companies are current tenants, four are off-site clients, and only five have discontinued their business. The 30 remaining successful companies account for 69 employees and more than $1 million in revenue for 2016.    

Some studies place the national failure rate for startups at around 50 percent within three to five years, said June Clougher, director of Jump Start Incubator. At Jump Start, 85 percent of its clients are still in business after five years of the incubator opening, she said.

“Almost all of them stayed in the community,” Clougher added.

Jump Start provides low-cost office space and assistance with developing action plans, benchmarking, accounting, financial analysis, strategic planning, marketing research, marketing material design, and more. The incubator is located on the third floor of the Community Foundation at 237 Court St.

Former clients include El Palo Magazine, Katie K Active sports apparel, RIG Financial Solutions and Marilu Rodriguez – RB Legal Counsel. Current clients in the incubator include Apex Property Maintenance, Cast & Crew, Structure Green Design Group, PD Campus, and more.

TEM Care Behavioral Health has been a Jump Start client for about one and a half years.

“June saved me from a lot of ‘learning the hard way,’” said Nicholas V. Johnson, TEM Care founder and president.

TEM Care improves the lives of individuals living with autism by teaching life skills that can lead to a more independent lifestyle. The agency is a fully-qualified provider under Pennsylvania’s Adult Autism Waiver Program in Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, and York counties.

Clougher and her staff of student interns from local universities have assisted Nick with setting goals, creating marketing materials, and advising him on setting up his accounting system and finding professional service providers in the area.

Jump Start offers a variety of programs designed to help small businesses at several stages:

Launch Pad is a three- to six-month program to help clients decide if they want to pursue their business idea.Jump Start is a two- to three-year program to help small businesses thrive while being housed at the incubator, where there is furnished office space, conference rooms, wireless internet, a copier/printer, and access to other entrepreneurs.Off-site incubation is for Jump Start clients who don’t need office space.QuickBooks Training is offered on an hourly basis.

“The best way to see if we can help an entrepreneur is to have them contact me directly,” Clougher said.

She can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 610-816-0639.

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