HUNTINGTON – The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) welcomed a new class of entrepreneurs from across West Virginia in its TEN50 Program at a reception Wednesday.
The TEN50 West Virginia’s Business Accelerator’s goal is to build a stronger and more diverse economy within the region. They support early-stage, early-growth startups. Participants spend three months with TEN50, working in RCBI’s statewide facilities. The relationship helps entrepreneurs accelerate the creation of their businesses and assists them with the hurdles faced by startup companies.
Among the participants is export specialist Ibrahim Mitias, a Syrian-American from Alum Creek, West Virginia.
His business, Stoneza, is an export service company focused on helping West Virginia businesses with the complexities of identifying overseas buyers and exporting their products. Mitias heard about TEN50 through a friend and decided it and RCBI would be a good opportunity to improve his business.
“It helps American manufacturers and suppliers increase their sales overseas, especially in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. I have a lot of connections there, so I wanted to give this opportunity to the manufacturers,” Mitias said.
His future plans for the business include improving his website and working to make his services more affordable and better organized in order to offer the service to more American manufacturers.
“I am very happy to see this kind of program here in West Virginia,” Mitias said.
Jennifer Pauley, another entrepreneur, grew up in Winfield, West Virginia, and attended West Virginia
University and Marshall University’s graduate school. Her service, Rooted, is built around inventory management software.
“We were talking about me helping some of the businesses in here (RCBI) – by day, I’m a logistics guru. Out of those conversations, we were just chatting about some of the software that we had developed for customers of mine that needed a solution. That has grown exponentially,” Pauley said.
“It’s about the roots of a business and the foundation. What we found in the market is a lot of small to medium businesses just either don’t have the skill set or the expertise to really manage an inventory; they’re going out and spending copious amounts of money for products that aren’t really solutions for their particular business,” Pauley said.
Rooted’s software can be tailored to each business’s needs, ensuring that they find solutions to inventory and sales issues. One feature is purchase order automation, which gives employees in the field real-time inventory data to simplify the order process.
“The hope is to grow Rooted exponentially over time – of course, we’re all in here to be big winners – and to show them a win here,” Pauley said. “RCBI is so underutilized in the community. Nobody really knows all of the bits and pieces and benefits that you have here.”