Youngstown Business Incubator

The Youngstown Business Incubator has a simple mission: it accelerates B2B tech startups in Youngstown. Offering critical resources like space, counseling, equipment, and networking opportunities, YBI also aims to revitalize its downtown neighborhood.

Sound familiar?

Josh and Kamrul from The Hardware Store and Jennifer Wilhelm from the Urban Redevelopment Authority visited YBI to see how they differ from incubators in our region. Many thanks to Jim Cossler, the CEO and Chief Evangelist, for explaining their novel approach.

Accepting the award for World’s Best Business Incubator Associated with a University

Accepting the award for World’s Best Business Incubator Associated with a University

Unlike traditional incubators, which graduate classes of startups, YBI retains its startups on campus. The campus acts like a home base, allowing developers and engineers to network, tap neighbors as resources, and pursue new ideas. Rather than pushing successful small businesses out of the nest, this system encourages startups to support each other and grow together.

Cossler and his team also strive to connect young companies with professionals that left Youngstown, but have an interest in seeing economic development happen in their hometown. The YBI offers a framework for Youngstown emigrants to become active sale advocates, finding first customers and driving revenue for the startups.

Named the world’s best business incubator associated with a university by the University Business Incubator Index in September 2014, the YBI model certainly works.

Here in Pittsburgh, The Hardware Store has a similar ethos: people drive growth. Like YBI, Hardware Store’s first incubator class, launching in 2015, will rely on meaningful relationships and deliverable assets, not just passive mentorship. For startups to grow, all of the players need to have meaningful skin in the game. The Hardware Store’s incubator model will have systems and frameworks in place to ensure a level playing field between mentors, investors, and the companies. Incubator classes won’t graduate and cut ties, but achieve profitability within a supportive community of peers.

To learn more about the Youngstown Business Incubator visit Contact Josh Lucas at to find out more about The Hardware Store’s first incubation class.