Allentown Startup Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary, Graduates From Business Incubation Program

By Colin McEvoy on October 2, 2015

Matt and Tara Sommerfield (center) celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their company, MTS Ventures, and their graduation from the Allentown Economic Development Corporation's business incubation program.

Matt and Tara Sommerfield (center) celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their company, MTS Ventures, and their graduation from the Allentown Economic Development Corporation’s business incubation program. (courtesy photo)

The Allentown startup MTS Ventures celebrated two milestones this month: their 10-year anniversary, and their successful graduation from the Allentown Economic Development Corporation’s (AEDC) business incubation program.

“We have been very fortunate to have the right mix of clients, partners, employees and mentors who believe in us and enabled our company to learn, adapt and grow,” said Matt Sommerfield, president of MTS Ventures, a product design and development company.

“It feels like the first 10 years have been foundation building and we are now poised for a trajectory of long terms success and we very much look forward to an exciting future,” said Matt, who founded the company along with his wife, Tara Sommerfield, who is a managing partner.

MTS Ventures was founded in 2005 and entered into AEDC’s Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in 2008. Located at 905 Harrison Street in the refurbished Mack Trucks Plant 4A, the 64,000 square-foot incubator is dedicated primarily to manufacturing startups in the Lehigh Valley.

Tara Sommerfield attributed part of their success to their time spent in the business incubation program.

“One of the most valuable parts of the incubator program was the variety of seminars offered, covering all walks of the business environment,” she said. “Everything from accounting and finance, to branding your business, patent law, finding new talent, and more. It really helps to uncover aspects of your business you might not have thought of yet.”

Matt Sommerfield added: “The willingness of the other businesses in the building to help each other out made growing our company in the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center a fantastic experience. We would not be where we are today without that network of support.”

MTS Ventures provides a full range of services and has the capability to assist their clients from taking their product idea from the conceptual stages, through developing a working prototype, to manufacturing and packaging a final product for sale. The company has worked on products from a variety of industries, including medical devices, commercial bar equipment, electronics, furniture, and consumer products.

Although the company has graduated, they won’t be leaving the Lehigh Valley. AEDC will be keeping MTS Ventures on as an “anchor tenant” in their program, meaning they will remain based out of the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center.

Anthony Durante, AEDC program manager, said there are several reasons a business incubator might retain an anchor tenant, particularly if they are a good example for other companies in the program, provide services other companies can benefit from, and provide a stream of revenue less at risk than that of younger startups in the program.

“MTS Ventures is one of those companies that a business incubator looks to retain beyond the scope of its program,” said Anthony Durante, AEDC program manager. “They consistently engage in all of the program activities, they do business with nearly every other company in the building, and they are successful as a business which makes them reliable to work with.”

The goal of the business incubation program at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center is to provide the resources to help startups move from the launch process to self-sustaining profitability, then to graduate them into the city of Allentown or into a suitable site within the Lehigh Valley.

Companies currently located in Bridgeworks include Architrep, ColdEdge Technologies, the Colony Meadery, County Seat Spirits, HiJinx Brewing Company, JH Plastics, LightLab International Inc., Netizen Corporation.

Benefits of the business incubation program include shared conference rooms, a common indoor loading dock, mentoring and advisory services, regular training sessions for startups, and a shared machine shop with a lathe, mill, and drill press with tooling.

While MTS originally employed only Matt and Tara Sommerfield, it has since grown to employ two additional part-time technicians and a full-time operator. Only about one-third of all startup companies reach their 10-year anniversary, according to AEDC.

“We are excited to have MTS Ventures remain a client at Bridgeworks and we look forward to their continued success,” Durante said. “We know that Matt and Tara will continue to be a great example to other entrepreneurs in our program.”

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