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Berks entrepreneur incubator celebrates five years, dozens of successes

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June Clougher, director of Jump Start Incubator, at Tuesday's celebration.
June Clougher, director of Jump Start Incubator, at Tuesday's celebration.

Dozens of Berks County entrepreneurs who got their start from Jump Start Incubator were among the crowd of well-wishers who gathered Tuesday in Reading to celebrate the organization's fifth-year anniversary.

Founded by the Berks County Community Foundation, with help from the Kutztown University Small Business Development Center, Jumpstart was established to provide a wide range of assistance for people starting new businesses.

Jump Start has helped 35 companies get their start in Berks since its founding in 2012, and all but five are still in business, said June Clougher, director of Jump Start Incubator.

Clougher said that was noteworthy because half of startups fail within three to five years. At Jump Start, 85 percent of its clients are still in business. In 2016, the 30 startups employed 69 people and had more than $1 million in revenue, she said.

Besides low-cost office space, Jump Start offers assistance to create action plans, benchmarks, accounting, financial analysis, strategic plans and marketing research and materials.

Nicholas V. Johnson, founder and president of TEM Care Behavioral Health, said Jump Start provided help that saved it from having to learn the “hard way.”

With assistance from Clougher and university student interns, Johnson set business goals, created marketing materials and set up an accounting system.

Jump Start offers a variety of programs designed to help small businesses at several stages:

• Launch Pad: a three- to six-month program to help clients decide if their business idea is feasible.

• Jump Start: a two- to three-year program to help small businesses thrive while being housed at the incubator at the Berks County Community Foundation, 237 Court St., Reading. Furnished office space, conference rooms, wireless internet, a copier/printer and access to other entrepreneurs are provided. Off-site assistance is available for clients who don’t need office space.

• QuickBooks training.

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