Sunday, April 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Incubator allows local business to take root

Harry Cheng, chief technical officer and co-founder of Barobo Inc., assembles modular robots to be used as educational devices at the company's new office in downtown Davis. Barobo was nurtured by Davis Roots, a start-up business accelerator that aims to keep technology developed at UC Davis in this community. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | March 21, 2013 | Leave Comment

An entrepreneur may have all the qualities required to run a successful business, but it could all be for naught if he or she lacks a fleshed-out business model, convincing sales pitch or a network of experts to call upon.

But with Davis Roots in town, such things should daunt those with incentive no longer.

Davis Roots is a local start-up business accelerator created by Anthony Costello and Andy Hargadon, who launched the program last May. So far, two businesses and local leaders have nothing but good things to say about their presence.

“The community response — from locals, the city and the university — has been great. People really get it,” Costello said. “If we take small companies coming out of the university and keep them here — there’s all sorts of tangent, trickle-down benefits for Davis.”

The focus for Davis Roots now is utilizing that support to segue into more fundraising, Costello said. He added that raising money would provide the resources necessary to effectively run the nonprofit.

Costello and Hargadon, who run the program on a volunteer basis with no personal financial gain, have plans that exceed what they are capable of achieving without a full-time support staff.

One of those goals is ensuring that the Davis Roots’ hub, the Hunt-Boyer Mansion at Second and E streets downtown, becomes the center of the local entrepreneurial community.

“We’re running several events here, and we’ve had several speakers come in,” Costello said. “We’re moving some of the talks that happen regularly on campus to the mansion here, so we can bring more activity to the downtown.”

Davis Roots also has five entrepreneurial ventures in the pipeline, all looking to find their place in a diverse range of markets. One wants to provide an aerial photography service to farmers, another will sell products to members of sororities and fraternities.

Each will be screened and evaluated based on factors both Hargadon and Costello consider important. The pair said it’s likely only two will make the cut. The nonprofit’s goal is to work with eight or more businesses by the year’s end.

“Any start-up is an experiment, it’s a process,” Hargadon said. “The two companies we’ve had so far have done well. … The next step, now that we’ve been given the go-ahead, is to try and scale that, and turn that small experiment into a larger one.”

One of the first companies the group got involved with was Nuritas, a developer of bio-medical computer software. Hargadon said the company was thriving, despite the fact that its sole operator — UCD post-doctoral student Nora Khaldi — was struggling with visa issues.

The other company under Davis Roots’ guidance was Barobo Inc., which creates robots to be used as educational devices. Founder Graham Ryland said the company’s goal is to provide kids with more practical applications to learn math and science.

Two rooms on the top floor of Hunt-Boyer Mansion served as a temporary home for Barobo over the course of several months. It was during that time that the small engineering team developed its first product — the Mobot-L, a low-cost modular robot.

Besides space, Barobo relied on the networking of Davis Roots to connect with the people needed to create a business infrastructure.

“For example, we met our patent attorney through them, as well as other key people,” Ryland said. “When it comes to looking for people who match the style of your company, it’s not as easy as just googling these vital, high-quality individuals.”

On March 1, Barobo opened its own offices in downtown Davis, a little more than a block away from the Davis Roots headquarters. He chose Davis for his office because of the number of local resources to which he’s connected.

“It’s fair to say that if it hadn’t been for Davis Roots, we’d likely be located in either the Bay Area or in Sacramento,” he said. “The majority of the people who are at Barobo either live here or are alumni from UC Davis, and this is where we want to be.

“UC Davis produces very high-quality engineers, marketing and business folks, but they get snatched up by companies in places like the Bay Area. … Davis Roots is a great focal point to harness that potential and keep it local.”

With Barobo being a testament to the viability of Davis Roots’ mission, Mayor Joe Krovoza conveyed his satisfaction with the effort to strengthen and broaden the job base within the city:

“Davis Roots is precisely the type of collaboration that should be pursued by a world-leading university creating knowledge of great public need — like energy, ag and medicine — and a host city that cares about high-value jobs and social change,” Krovoza said.

“And we have moved from the idea and the initial effort to success in a short time. We have a model and the talent to make this thrive.”

— Reach Brett Johnson at bjohnson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

A springtime ritual

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Tom Adams seeks Davis school board seat

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

 
Hub of activity: DHS newspaper keeps evolving

By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Holy fire ceremony draws thousands in Jerusalem

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Tour renovated YCCC facility Thursday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Tour Davis Waldorf School on Wednesday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

The fifth annual Tour de Cluck is soon to be hatched

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Ortiz lawn signs available

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Sign up soon for spring cooking classes

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Robb Davis team to rally on Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Steadfast in their support

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4, 7 Comments | Gallery

 
Yolo Hospice offers free grief workshops

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Sign up for Camp Kesem caterpillar crawl

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Quilters gear up for annual show

By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A4

KDVS launches fund drive on Monday

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A5

 
Calling all Scrabble fans

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

League hosts a series of candidate forums

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Hub webpage is seeing traffic increasing

By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A8

Preschool open house set at Davis Waldorf

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

 
Birch Lane celebrates its 50th anniversary

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

Hotel/conference center info meeting set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

 
Lescroart welcomes all to book-launch party

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A16 | Gallery

DEVO set to serve up 14th annual Winkler Dinner

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16 | Gallery

 
Learn Chinese crafts at I-House

By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A16

.

Forum

Take ownership of your health

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Not thrilled with lack of symmetry

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Reliving the agony and ecstasy of spring

By Marion Franck | From Page: A7

 
Keep your baby safe

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
Core values on campus

By Our View | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Road diet? No, city diet!

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12, 5 Comments

 
We’re reveling in our equality

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Vote no; it’s fiscally responsible

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12, 2 Comments

 
Rick McKee cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

 
Bill is an affront to UC Davis ag biotech and local farmers

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

Don’t want to sit in Fix 50 traffic? Consider alternatives

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

 
.

Sports

Devils burn up the track

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
UCD softball shut out by Santa Barbara

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie men shoot 9-under, lead own tourney

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Stars shine in Woody Wilson Classic

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Aggie baseball swept away by Highlanders

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

A’s score 3 in ninth, rally past Astros 4-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

Yolo Federal Credit Union gets WISH funds

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
PG&E pays taxes, fees to county, cities

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

Will Davis get an Old Soul?

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A9

 
Pediatricians, nurse practitioner hired at Woodland Healthcare

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Asian stocks mostly higher after mixed U.S. earnings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Davis Roots will showcase its graduating startups

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14

University Honda wins another President’s Award

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

 
Dutch Bros. raises $19,000 for girl with leukemia

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, April 20, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B8