InBIA Spotlight: Rev3 Innovation Center

InBIA, The International Business Innovation Association, members around the world have helped launch countless companies that have had lasting impacts on their communities, their industries and their customers. Learn more about InBIA members, and the programs and services offered to help entrepreneurs succeed. DuPage County, Ill. is located about 30 miles from the Chicago metro area, and in 2013 there were only two innovation centers is the county, both focused on R&D., That was when Choose DuPage, the county’s economic development organization, decided to launch an innovation center of its own.  The Rev3 Innovation Center opened in late 2014 on the Northern Illinois University Naperville campus. With private offices, co-working space and planned facilities to prototype, build and assemble small and moderate scale volumes of products, the Center offers inventors and entrepreneurs an environment to take their concept from design to build to market launch. The population in DuPage County is mostly older professionals, and many sought support from Rev3 to kickstart their next career move. Within eight months, the new innovation center had 25 members who were either sole proprietors or small startups. As a hybrid innovation center, the members are split between the incubator and co-working space. Sixty-five percent of the members fall into the technology and IT sector, and the rest are in the hardware or manufacturing sectors. Nicholas Zito, a young millennial working for Choose DuPage, was tasked with launching and managing the new innovation center. During the idea stage of Rev3, Zito struggled to find models in suburban areas that he could reference. He soon realized he needed to get creative to make Rev3 a success. In the process, he hoped to develop a proven concept that others could model after in the future. First, Zito immersed himself in as much industry knowledge as quickly as possible by taking several courses offered by the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), earning his Business Incubation Management Certificate in May of 2014.  His second strategy was to find a mentor who could guide him as he went through the process. Leveraging his InBIA membership, he was connected with a 15-year industry veteran who provided him with insight, recommendations, advice and support. The third step was to use the connections and resources he had through Choose DuPage to spread the word and begin recruiting clients for Rev3. To market and grow Rev3, Zito executed  active social channels, a content-rich website and a series of events – over 150 to date in 2015. These events consist of breakfasts, lunch and learns, happy hours, fireside chats, and local government and legislative meetings. In the beginning, Zito was lucky to get a handful of attendees. Today, he averages between 60 and 100 attendees. The events turned out to be great ways for him to market Rev3 to gain community support and identify potential members, partners and sponsors. Rev3 also played host to two Google Development Group-sponsored hackathons. DuPage County was the only location outside of metro Chicago to achieve this feat. The GDG Schaumburg Android Wear Hackathon took place in late 2014. Participants met with fellow designers and developers in the area and collaborated on Android Wear apps. Teams of entrepreneurs were able to streamline everyday interaction and efficiency by improving upon old practices. In fact, one team created a smartphone app that uses wearable technology to detect resting average heart rate, effectively keeping you awake when behind the wheel. Rev3 has realized much growth and early success over the last year. Zito was honored in the 16th Annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards in the Outstanding Service to Entrepreneurs category in September of 2015 for all of his work with Choose Dupage and Rev3. Excited about the future, Rev 3 plans to boost future growth for the center through several initiatives and will expand its footprint over the next 12-18 months. When asked what he thinks Rev3 needs to do to achieve its short-term goals, Zito cited capitalizing on partnerships with area corporations to help them cultivate innovation. He feels the industry is seeing a shift where more and more corporate giants are seeking intrapreneurship to develop new products and innovations.