Basement Business Goes Worldwide!
Two co-workers started a small hobby in their basement assembling and selling robotics parts just a few years ago. Now, the business is housed at the Inventrek Building and employs more than ten people providing services worldwide. AndyMark sells robotic parts to High School Robotic teams. In January of 2007, they sold $300,000 worth of robotics parts. They soon realized that the hobby they were working on in their basement had soon become an extremely busy business. They decided then that it was time to start thinking of it as a business! They came to the Small Businesses Development Center to search for possible funding, a building or open land to build a building on and stop working from the basement and garage.
Prior to starting AndyMark, Inc., business owners, Andy Baker and Mark Koors, were engineers for Delphi Electronics and mentors for Kokomo High School TechnoKats FIRST Robotics team. Through their volunteer work with TechnoKats, they found a niche market and began designing and selling robotics components. Each year sales increased and in 2007, Andy was able to leave his job at Delphi to devote all his time to the growth of AndyMark. Mark followed suit, leaving Delphi in May 2008. Since 2007, AndyMark, Inc. has leased space at Inventrek Technology Park and continues to provide parts for the FIRST Community, as well as branch into other market areas.
Andy and Mark had a lot of options to consider before leaving their full-time employment. The new business owners contacted the Small Business Development Center to search for alternative lenders for a short-term loan, a facility to operate their business out of, develop a web address and develop the ability to complete orders and ship their product.
One benefit in having their location at Inventrek Technology Park is that there are many resources to the business owners. Andy has been involved in the Echelon Program for the past two years. This is a program developed by the SBDC funded through WIRED. “My participation in the Echelon group has helped me run our company better. I believe that we are in a better position for growth and making any needed adjustments in this ever-changing economic climate. Specifically, the Echelon group and time spent with SBDC counselors have helped us develop an Employee Handbook, and address employee issues. The expertise shared by local business professionals has also been invaluable, with relationships and contacts established that will serve us well in the coming months and, hopefully, years,” Baker states.
AndyMark has also been a participant in the Collegiate Management Program with the MBA students at Indiana University Kokomo. This opportunity gave students a “real” business to work with. “The students taught us so much in our Marketing, Product Management and other key areas that we have implemented in our business,” Andy states. It is comforting to know that the Small Business Development Center is just down the hallway just in case we have an issue arise or need some valuable information. “I would definitely recommend the SBDC to other entrepreneurs!”