Monday, July 29, 2013
By James Lomuscio
In the midst of Saugatuck Center’s continuing growth, a residential and restaurant renaissance redefining the timed honored section of town, comes Westporter Howard Steinberg, an entrepreneur who wants to nurture and launch innovative businesses to stardom.
“The next Zuckerberg?” he’s asked about the likes of another Mark Zuckerberg, the iconic founder of Facebook, spawned by his vision.
“Let’s hope so,” says Steinberg, a 26-year town resident, who is in the midst of transforming 5,440 square feet of office space at 20 Ketchum St. into a collective of idea people, entrepreneurs, angel investors and experienced business people.
Dubbed the Westport Innovation HUB, the enterprise Steinberg touts currently has offices under construction that are designed as a “home to individuals and entities that want to enjoy shared resources, connections, expertise, experiences and access to capital in a beautiful, convenient, turnkey office environment.”
“It’s the energy of the collective,” says Steinberg, 54. “So, in a way, it’s sort of like the old town square with the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.
“New businesses will be launched here,” he adds. “It’s all about the members, and it’s not just shared space.”
Shared space is what exists in professional office buildings, Steinberg said, where people from different disciplines “don’t talk to each other.” Here, as in other types of what have been called “accelerator programs,” currently found in major cities including New York and Pittsburgh, the different entities interact as as if in the alchemist’s crucible.
“I like to think of us being a nurturator, if I can coin that word,” he said, “bringing together experience, ideas, capital and energy, and the energy, especially (in high-tech enterprises) comes from the youth.”
“It used to be, when I was growing up, that you would go into a profession or work for a large company,” Steinberg added. “Today, people are being told there’s a third option, starting your own business.”
Having started out in the marketing division of Pepsi, Steinberg took the risk “in my living room in Westport” in 1989 to start his own company, Source Marketing, which grew into four offices in town. Eleven years later he sold the majority of the company, and in 2004 he started dLife, a diabetes, media and education network currently in operation.
Already six individuals have signed on as HUB members, which in addition to being replete with shared video conference rooms, a coffee bar and IT bells and whistles, will offer ergonomic furniture, desks curved to welcome others to the creative process, he says.
“I personally took the risk because I thought is was a good thing to do,” he said. “I thought Westport needed this because we have a history of a lot of companies starting here.”
Posted 07/29/13 at 02:12 PM Permalink