The incubator program was developed by the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation to help new business owners network and hone their craft. NY1’s Jared Smith filed the following report.
Victoria Nieto has been working in optometry since she was 15. Fast forward to the present, she's two years into running her own shop, facing many of the same struggles other entrepreneurs typically face when starting their own business.
"It was tough in the beginning, that first year was really rough, I started from scratch," said Nieto, who owns the optometry shop Visions by Victoria Rose.
Nieto quickly learned the value of networking, and the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation’s new incubator program has provided just that.
"It is so important to get out, meet people in the community, and there are so many professionals that do want to help you," said Nieto.
The main focus of this SIEDC program isn't about getting customers through the door, it's about connecting entrepreneurs like Victoria to other business owners in similar fields.
"So I just recently met another optical professional, Chris Williams, and he has a very well-known Optical business which he grew from the ground up, he's actually a perfect person for me to speak with and speak to," said Nieto.
Victoria is one of the original five members of this incubator program. Jane Lvovskiy is another; she owns a virtual bookkeeping business and heavily relies upon the SIEDC's business to business connections.
"And also networking with the right people and being guided by the right individuals who know how to help businesses grow, and SIEDC has been the link in all of that," said Lvovskiy, the owner of Supporting Strategies.
Just a couple of months into this startup program, it's still too soon to quantify any direct results, but the SIEDC is excited about the potential for growth.
"I think the goal is to have new members each year and they sort of graduate on, so maybe one day we'll have a nice alumni group that came from this," said SIEDC Membership and Events Manager Megan Kenny.