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Success Stories

For Antonio Civitella, emigrating from Italy at the age of nine with his family meant a new world of opportunities. Civitella’s passion for computers and persistent nature turned a college internship into a career as an innovative entrepreneur. Civitella eventually became the owner of Transfinder Corporation in 2000, developing the Schenectady-based company into an international provider of state-of-the-art software for intelligent transportation systems. 

In 1988, Civitella was a computer science and software engineering student at Siena College and his advisor approached him with an unconventional internship opportunity.  At the time, software development on PCs was uncommon but Forth & Associates in Schenectady needed an intern to assist in developing a PC-based software product. Civitella began the internship during his sophomore year and worked on software that managed schedules and logistics for visiting nurses. The finished product couldn’t find success in the... Read More

Small Business Success in the Saddle

Office? Barns, with a laptop on her bed. Workday? 14 hours, every day. Challenges? Constant. But entrepreneur Erika Eckstrom wouldn’t have it any other way. At the age of 5, Eckstrom knew she wanted to spend her life working with horses and wrote her plan to own a stable by 25 in crayon. Today, Painted Bar Stables is the passionate, profitable business that has made her childhood dream a reality.

Eckstrom bought her first horse, Margarita, at 13 and then adopted and rehabilitated rescue horses throughout high school. After completing bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and music and a master’s degree in public communications in Washington, D.C., she returned to the Southern Tier. In 2008, the then 23-year-old Eckstrom purchased Painted Bar Stables, a 22-acre horse property outside Watkins Glen, NY. Her previous education and work experience at the Peace Corps press office and lobbying efforts with Break the Cycle have been invaluable to her business.

“All of the skills... Read More

In 2008, Cadmona Hall and Heather Hay were completing their PhDs in Marriage and Family Therapy at Syracuse University. Their decision to choose Syracuse for their academic studies would result in a life-changing friendship and business. Hall and Hay became close friends while working at Hospice of Central NY, where their collaboration sparked an unexpected idea.

Hay realized after a joint presentation that they were meant to work together: “We have great synergy, a great presenting partnership and strong friendship. That was the first kernel of the business idea being planted and it took a little while before we got things into motion.”

After their graduation, the two continued discussing their fledgling business concept.

“We talked through the idea of doing this together professionally and what we are most passionate about, which is grief and loss and reaching out to others,” recounts Hall.  “We started to think about how to put things into place... Read More

In 2001, Syracuse native Tina Corso was a real estate agent who also enjoyed getting creative in the kitchen. The aroma of her freshly baked shortbread cookies made Tina’s open houses all the more alluring. At the time, Tina’s fiancé Peter Hess had previously run a dot-com business in Manhattan and was in Syracuse looking for a new position through a head hunter. Tina created a hand-decorated cookie bouquet as a thank you gift for the head hunter, who was so delighted that she wanted to order Tina’s cookie bouquets for all of her clients. Tina and Peter launched the startup business from their home that same year, with Tina making and decorating the cookies and Peter handling the marketing and accounting roles. After less than one year in business, Corso’s Cookies had to move from their home’s kitchen to a 500-square-foot rental space in Solvay, just outside of Syracuse, NY.

“Tina made a cookie that people fell in love with, and I realized this was amazing and it was just a... Read More