Chimes’ business incubator partners with tech company
Anamika Roy Daily Record Business Writer
Baltimore tech company CyberSpa has a new product on the market, and it’s being packaged and shipped in a unique way.
Available on Amazon since Friday, FreshStart kits contain a hard drive and other items to help people update their old Windows machines. The shipping and production process is being undertaken not at a factory, however, but by a new business incubator at The Chimes Inc., a nonprofit that provides services for people with disabilities.
Started last year, the incubator is designed to help Chimes clients who have trouble adjusting to traditional work settings because they have disabilities that require constant access to a nurse or need other accommodations that private employers have a difficult time providing.
In an attempt to find work opportunities for people in that situation, officials at Chimes noticed small businesses often struggled to find a home, workforce and other resources needed to start their companies, CEO Marty Lampner said.
After looking at other technology incubators, last spring, Chimes decided to open one on its own. The nonprofit started courting businesses in the fourth quarter of last year, taking on 800Razors.com as the first tenant. The razor company needed more office space and employees to fill orders, and Chimes’ incubator was able to fit both of those needs.
CyberSpa met with Chimes last year as it geared up to sell the FreshStart kits, said CyberSpa CEO Allen Shay. The company was looking for place to assemble the kits and took a tour of the Chimes facility on Milford Mill Road in Baltimore.
“I was just blown away, quite frankly,” said Shay. “Within an hour, I said, ‘We need to have you guys produce our kits.’ Sometimes things are just that simple.”
Ideally, Chimes wants the people it serves, particularly those who are “reasonably high functioning,” to work in-house at businesses, whether it’s at a large company or a small business, Lampner said. But the incubator helps those who cannot succeed in that environment, he said. “This allows us to bring the businesses to them,” he said.
Chimes currently has four people working for CyberSpa, but the plan is to increase that to 10 employees.
“We will have those people ready as [Shay] needs them,” said Lampner.
Some CyberSpa employees are on-site to train and supervise the workers from Chimes. All employees working through the Chimes partnership are on CyberSpa’s payroll, said Lampner.
While Lampner said it’s difficult to gauge Chimes’ capacity across all of its locations for the incubator, he said the organization can likely support between 20 and 30 businesses with five-to-10 employees working for each business. (Chimes has about 35,000 square feet of space at its largest location.)
Ideally, half of those employees will be from Chimes while the other half will be from the broader community, to create a more traditional business environment, said Lampner, adding that Chimes is actively seeking new businesses to join the incubator.
“We hope to find other small businesses and a diverse mix,” he said.