Success Stories

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

Oswego County Bio-Tech Company Invention Goes Global

In 1976, Watertown native Randy Yerden was a lab technician at the University of Rochester’s School of Medicine when he found he was unable to control cellular oxygen levels using conventional lab equipment. Necessity is the mother of invention, and when Yerden realized he could create a new design to provide a better environment for cell cultures, the first product that would eventually evolve into the Xvivo System was born.

Yerden started manufacturing and selling the device from his garage in 1982 and worked for years developing and selling improved versions of the invention. After hiring several employees the garage space quickly became inadequate and Yerden relocated the business. With room to grow in Lacona, NY, staffing levels grew to more than 20 as Yerden developed new designs for incubators, glove chambers and other laboratory equipment. The Xvivo System is a modular, scalable and custom configurable “clean room in a box” that allows for cell incubation and... Read More

Craft Brewer Couple  Master Art and Science of Entrepreneurship

Twenty-three years ago, Kelly and Garry Brown’s wedding toast was made with a different drink than traditional champagne: Garry’s home-brewed beer. Although Kelly was a flight attendant and Garry was a newspaper photographer, their passion for craft beer inspired them to start the first brewpub in the Capital Region a few years later.

“We bought an old, dilapidated building in Troy in 1990 because it was a great location on the Hudson River and it was affordable. We spent the next three years renovating it. Garry would work on the building during the day and then work nights at the paper. I continued working for the airline and we were able to use my miles towards research trips to the West Coast and Europe to see how beer could really taste,” said Kelly.

The startup went through a few name evolutions, opening as Brown and Moran, changing to Uncle Sam Pub & Brewery the next year and finally changing to Brown’s Brewing Company in 2006. The Browns wanted to open... Read More

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