MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Vantage Ventures is making its mark in Morgantown.
The WVU campus-based effort, part of the John C. Chambers School of Business and Economics, hopes to be the Mid-Atlantic version of Silicon Valley. Vantage Ventures is currently home to 29 startup businesses ranging from clean energy, biotech to artificial intelligence.
Vantage Ventures Executive Director Sarah Biller said the organization provides expertise, contacts and a place to transform ideas into profitable ventures that create jobs and solve problems or add value to lives.
Biller said what’s been accomplished is even more amazing when you consider Vantage Ventures opened four months before the pandemic began.
“We opened and in March of 2020 COVID really shut the world down,” Biller said.
Using the resources and experience of the WVU team and beyond the organization to give startup companies insight into the business, marketing and the other unrelated but necessary tasks to maintain a viable business.
“To be a supporting structure for West Virginians who are living in the state, or for individuals that see West Virignia as a good place to build a technology company,” Biller said.
Biller said the goal of the group is to create a new wave of entrepreneurs that will also bring good jobs to the state. The group has a deep bench of alumni, community leaders and experts to advise startups.
“That community is comprised of individuals who have maybe left the state of West Virginia, but have had great industry experience or them selves have been entrepreneurs,” Biller said.
The wide range of expertise provides a stable base of information about the realities of the business world. The fact that maintaining a business and customer base is likely much more difficult than the initial startup phase.
“We want them to attract customers and also raise capitol,” Biller said. “This is a very important activity when you are an early-stage company because you don’t qualify for conventional bank loans.”
One of the first additions to Vantage Ventures is now a success story- Iconic Air. West Virginia natives, Kyle Gillis and James Carnes used their passion for drones to develop software used in the oil and gas industry to measure emissions. Iconic Air reported $1 million in sales for 2021.