Consultants lease incubator

Two Indianapolis consultants become first to occupy space.

Two Indianapolis computer consultants are the first to occupy Muncie's new business incubator.

Ken Willard and Scott Pierce, creators of xSPert Solutions, recently signed a lease agreement for office space on Marsh Street. William Skinner, executive director of the Muncie Innovation Connector program, said that they are taking other startups and look to have additional news in the coming months.

"This is a company with a great deal of potential," he said. "At this point (however), we are just incubating the incubator."

Willard and Pierce said xSPert Solutions is an information technology company that services small to medium companies supporting local markets. The two learned about the incubator program in Muncie through conversations with several faculty members of Ball State's Center for Information and Communication Sciences.

"We both spent several years in Indianapolis working toward our goal of starting an independent high tech company," Willard said. "Several professors who knew us steered us to Mr. Skinner and this program. "

The business incubator, an organization set up to help small businesses grow, is a partnership between the Cardinal Health Systems, Ball State University and the City of Muncie. It is also a component of Vision 2006, an economic development plan developed by the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and local institutions.

"People who live here or go to school here sometimes don't stay," Skinner said. "The goal is to bring more businesses into the community to attract graduates and the younger generation, and bring more business and employment opportunities."

Skinner said that office space is available on campus, as well as people who can provide expertise that a small business owner may not have, such as in marketing, manufacturing and how to be a better salesperson.

"They may have expertise in manufacturing and other skills, but may not necessarily know how to get it on the market," he said. "The incubator helps with aspects that they may not know about."

The incubator was launched about a month ago, and the organization renovated three houses on Marsh Street. One will be used as the incubator's headquarters, and two are still available for people who have small businesses and would like to help them grow.

Skinner said the incubator is new to Muncie but not a new concept. A number of similar organizations are located across Indiana -- in Lafayette, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Terre Haute and Bloomington. All are older than the Muncie incubator, with Lafayette's dating back 30 years.

Skinner said the incubator is not limited to just business students, and that more technological development exists outside of the School of Business, such as architecture and teaching. He also said the incubator is offering assistance to students who are interested and would like help with financing and how to write a business plan.

Willard and Pierce are the only employees of their company, but they said they plan to add additional workers in the coming months as business grows, and said they are excited to be working with Muncie's incubator.

"We are very pleased to be a part of it," Willard said. "It has tremendous potential."


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