Alvernia’s O’Pake Institute graduates first SPARK Business Incubator tenant

PubTrawlr, founded by Dr. Jonathan Scaccia, is the first tenant to graduate from the SPARK Business Incubator at Alvernia University’s O’Pake Institute and is moving to The Candy Factory, a coworking space for businesses and professionals, in Lancaster PA.

“The SPARK Business Incubator provides start-up companies with a supportive environment to learn, grow and thrive. Incubator space is intended to be temporary, and incubator graduation is a call for celebration,” said O’Pake’s Director of Student and Client Services Michelle Conway.

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“It is our goal is to mentor and advise incubator companies so that they can hit their critical milestone and take their businesses to the next level. As we enter 2023, the incubator will be focusing on early-stage technology start-ups. Our ultimate goal is to incubate businesses that support the local economy and add to the brain gain of Berks County.”

PubTrawlr is an artificial intelligence-driven platform that helps people find new and relevant scientific research on demand. Scaccia credits O’Pake with much of PubTrawlr’s success and growth from what began as a basement experiment to what is now a flourishing business.

“O’Pake met me where I was at, especially when I didn’t know what was going on or what the appropriate business steps were,” said Scaccia. “They provided services that synced up with what I needed. As an early-stage entrepreneur, there’s a temptation to try to do everything yourself. But to get things done the right way, you need to rely on others, and O’Pake was the ‘other’ that helped me get there.”

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Scaccia was part of the inaugural cohort of SPARK Business Incubator tenants along with Adrean Turner and Radarra McLendon. Turner, life coach, author, speaker, and pageant queen, will also be migrating from the SPARK Incubator to start a new venture following her lease. McLendon, founder of local nonprofit The Village of Reading, transitioned to a larger facility following her lease to support her business growth.

“We went from servicing 50 clients virtually in 2020, to seven tenants and 100 clients in 2021 to gradating our first incubator tenant and servicing well over 200 clients,” said O’Pake’s Chief Operating Officer Dr. Rodney S. Ridley Sr. “I look forward to seeing all of the impeccable work our team of staff, O’Pake Fellows and Graduate Assistants will continue to do to serve local business and boost economic development in Greater Berks County in the new year and the years to follow. This is just the beginning.”

Cemboo, an online video streaming technology company founded by Hayden Craddolph has moved into the SPARK incubator. The O’Pake General Store, which sells O’Pake Honey, has occupied another incubator space. The store has plans to expand and sell products from other incubator clients and local businesses.

O’Pake is seeking an early-stage technology start-up to sign a leasing agreement as a SPARK Business Incubator tenant. To inquire about the lease agreement and accompanying business incubator services, contact Director of Student and Client Services, Michelle Conway at michelle.conway@alvernia.edu or (484) 254-2126.

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Berks Weekly
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