New startup incubator offers great views, learning space


Ari Farias, co-founder of ChordBuff, plays a ukulele while testing the website at Skyward Capital, a business incubator located in the penthouse of the Seagle building on Friday.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, August 15, 2014 at 4:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 15, 2014 at 4:17 p.m.

A new incubator for startup companies launched last month.

Skyward Capital, founded by Augi Lye, sits in the penthouse of the Seagle Building at 408 W. University Ave.

The company houses seven small businesses, providing office space, resources and guidance on running a startup venture. Businesses such as SpinChill, which created a faster way to cool beer, and ToneRite, which sells a device to alter the tone of wood string instruments, call the incubator home.

“It’s more than just a place for companies to work,” Lye said. “It’s a place for companies to learn.”

Lye founded ToneRite and HackerHouse, an early-stage incubator for engineers to create prototypes of new products. He also co-founded local game developer Trendy Entertainment, which recently hired a new CEO.

Skyward Capital was the next logical step after HackerHouse, he said. One allowed entrepreneurs to create the seeds for a new product, and the other allows them to grow the business.

Aside from having the most gorgeous view in Gainesville as inspiration, Lye said the new incubator would have regular speakers each month to give advice and share expertise.

Skyward Capital is the umbrella company that handles all of Lye’s dealings, hence the “Capital” part of the name.

It also offers private chefs and meal plans for its client businesses, Director Andrew Solomon said.

“There’s nobody else with the energy and the attitude we have,” he said.

With other facilities such as the Sid Martin Biotech Incubator, the Gainesville Technology Entrepreneurship Center, Starter Space, Innovation Hub, and the Santa Fe Center for Innovation and Economic Development, one might think that the area is oversaturated with incubators, Lye said, but that’s not the case.

There is little competition between the facilities, many of which are filled to capacity, he said. Instead, they cooperate and share expertise.

Adrian Taylor, from the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, agreed. He has been convening the leaders of the various incubators to foster coordination among them.

“Incubators don’t really have the same issue of market saturation creating a competitive environment that other businesses would have,” he said.

Because they encourage new businesses to form and are sometimes filled to capacity, there isn’t any need for competition between them, he said.

“More incubators equals more opportunity,” he said.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top