Why Troy Innovation Garage is Starting an Accelerator for Small Business

By Justin Dawes – Reporter
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During the early days of the pandemic when people had a lot of free time, some started side projects to generate extra income. Tom Nardacci wants to help owners learn how to maintain those small businesses long term.
One of his coworking spaces, the Troy Innovation Garage, is starting a new six-week accelerator program for small businesses in the Capital Region.

“I’m always advising different people, and I’m trying to find a way to put it in a format that could be more helpful,” said Nardacci, whose company also has coworking spaces in Albany and Providence, Rhode Island. “I’m super jazzed about the awesome high-growth stuff happening here … but I also want to make sure we’re making time to do other things that are community driven.”

Troy Innovation Garage has been home to several high-growth businesses — such as Inspect PointNuvalence and Simplecast — that have collectively raised $50 million over the last few years. But besides those companies, the coworking space has always been a place for freelancers and others with microbusinesses who don’t have growth plans, he said.

Nardacci’s goal is to help those people explore how to make those side hustles become full-time gigs, or even to just make sure they’re being run properly.

“They might work for a high-growth startup, but then they have a side thing they want to do,” Nardacci said. “It’s part of the economy that doesn’t get a lot of [attention]. But it’s important because people are generating income, and it just makes life cooler here, too.”

Most accelerators in the area are focused on businesses that intend to scale up operations, so this focus is a little different.

“That’s why I don’t think it’s redundant,” he said.

Topics covered during the six-week sessions will include basic business management and startup principles. Participants will have access to business advisers, including in the areas of law, taxes, insurance, banking, sales and marketing.

The first cohort, probably consisting of roughly 15 people, will take place from Sept. 7 to Oct. 12. It’ll likely be a weekly nighttime session, he said. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, with final decisions announced in July.

The program will generally be looking for applicants who already have some type of small business in operation, however that may look, even if it’s just an Etsy page.

Everyone who completes the program will be eligible for $1,000 to $5,000 in seed funding, including a membership to Troy Innovation Garage. Nardacci plans to secure some program sponsors to contribute funding.