Building Remarkable Companies and Community at the DEC
The strategic partnership between Rev1 Ventures and the Dublin Entrepreneurial Center (DEC) goes way back. Well before the DEC was founded in 2009, Rev1 Ventures and the City of Dublin decided to join forces to bring a hub of entrepreneurship to the Dublin community and the surrounding area.
“The idea was that we wanted the little companies that were in the imagination of Dublin residents to feel comfortable walking into a facility and knowing that they were going to be able to get the support they needed close by,” said Chaz Freutel, who was one of the first tenants and is now DEC manager. “Our vision was to surround those entrepreneurs and startups with the resources that they would need to better succeed.”
The DEC started modestly in a building on the current Dublin campus of Ohio University with a handful of tenants. Today with nearly 150 tenants, the DEC operates, within Metro Data Center in the heart of Dublin’s MetroCenter Office Park.
DEC encourages public and private partnerships
“The City of Dublin is the DEC’s primary sponsor, the Metro Data Center, a full-service business hosting and data center, provides the facility. We have organized a host of other sponsors who provide various resources for the DEC to share with tenants and guests,” said Freutel.
Tenants include entrepreneurs as well as other businesses and organizations that serve the business community.
“It’s a unique partnership with local businesses,” Freutel said. “We have legal, accounting, insurance, human resources, banking, CFOs, and professional consulting provided on a weekly basis. Entrepreneurs, DEC residents and others from the community, can schedule time to meet with representatives from those businesses. It’s wonderful to see companies that were stuck get guidance and help to start moving in the right direction.”
The DEC inspires community relationships
“A lot of our tenants rely on other tenants,” Freutel said. “In a recent survey of our resident companies, 56 percent of the respondents said that their business does business with at least one other tenant of the DEC. That’s pretty special!”
Rev1 maintains offices and staff at the DEC. “People know that they can come in and meet with people from Rev1,” Freutel said. “That partnership has been there since before the DEC doors opened.”
The DEC also supports the Ohio Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) with programming and consulting. Over half DEC tenants are in technology or IT-related businesses, but the rest are from a variety of business sectors. The DEC also has open doors to the broader Central Ohio community beyond Dublin residents.
“Community is the biggest thing that we promote,” Freutel said. “Teaching businesses to be part of a community, building relationships, helps them be more successful in the future. The day they move out of the DEC, they and we know that they’ve learned the lessons of how important it is not to place themselves in a silo, but to be part of a community that shares connections and ideas to keep all businesses growing.”
Freutel said that when he first became a tenant in the original DEC location, he wouldn’t have dreamed the DEC would grow to the size that it is now.
“We consistently have over 4,000 people come to DEC events, to networking events, and to meet with consultants who are onsite,” he said. The DEC holds Jelly Days twice a month—taking off on a concept developed in New York. Programming includes a menu of free training, topical presentations, one-on-one consulting, networking, and of course lunch.
“Jelly Days are an opportunity for folks to attend one or more presentations from experts sharing knowledge about their business and their topic,” Freutel. “Altogether the DEC hosts about 30 events per month in various forms. Rev1 has been a key contributor.”
What’s next at the DEC?
“Every year we take on a new project or goal,” said Freutel. “The City continues to challenge us, and we challenge ourselves. We are constantly asking what we can do that is new and fresh.”
In its second year, the DEC put focus on sustainability and green companies, adding a dozen organizations from that sector. After that, attention was placed on local companies that did business internationally. Recent emphasis is on leveraging the unique connection and technical advances that come from the DEC’s host, the Metro Data Center.
“Accessibility to a 100-gigabyte fiber network is unique,” Freutel said. “Looking forward to future, we are positioned to utilize that technology to do some incredible things, like supporting the smart mobility corridor, which will attract more new business to this area.”