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Noozhawk: "New Incubator Brings Business ‘Synergy’ to Santa Barbara"

Synergy Business & Technology Center will celebrate its grand opening Tuesday

Santa Barbara’s newest business incubator, the Synergy Business & Technology Center, will celebrate its grand opening Tuesday.

Elected officials, business leaders and government staff will attend Mayor Helene Schneider’s ribbon cutting at 5:30 p.m.

The transformed lemon-packaging warehouse at 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez, Suite 102, will host about 30 small businesses, according to Synergy founder and JM Holliday Associates principal architect Michael Holliday.

“Our focus is really on the smaller start-up companies that are getting going; that’s really where the need is,” Holliday told Noozhawk at last month’s MIT Enterprise Forum Central Coast. “We wanted to create a unique, flexible and functional office space for those type of people who don’t have the capacity to rent thousands of square feet.”

Some of that need stemmed from cloud computing company RightScale’s takeover last year of the 26,000-square-foot Santa Barbara Business & Technology Center at 402 E. Gutierrez St. The tech center’s 50 tenants were given 30 days to leave, according to officials of SIMA Management Corp., which operates the building.

“This will be another step toward filling that,” Holliday said. “We think there is a tremendous opportunity to promote the entrepreneurial spirit in Santa Barbara.”

According to the Small Business Administration, 87 percent of incubator graduates are still in business after five years, Susan Block of Block, Bowman & Associates LLCsaid.

“From my perspective, the biggest benefit is the flexibility and time to market,” said Klaus Schauser, the AppFolio CEO and founder who also who helped develop a Web-based marketplace for technical support services that eventually became Citrix Online. “Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, always said we do all the heavy lifting so you don’t have to. To me, incubators are the same thing.”

The 6,500-square-foot incubator features 30-foot-high open ceilings within a 1928 recycled and enhanced warehouse that includes natural materials and finishes, natural daylight, movable walls, a kitchen and dining area and three private conference rooms. Holliday said the new facility strives to encourage collaboration between companies in the high-tech, clean-tech and green-tech industries.

Synergy partnered with the SBCC Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation to give entrepreneurs business assistance and counseling services.

“Ultimately, many working environments lack natural light and ventilation, much less inspire their occupants,” Holliday said. “This is a great quote I love: ‘We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.’ That was Churchill who said that. I think that’s a great reminder that you are really shaped by the environment that you are in.”

— Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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