The latest batch of newly announced tenants at the Louisiana Technology Park includes a new division of Catapult Creative Media, a 10-year-old Baton Rouge company.
That’s not exactly what most incubators would consider a startup. Then again, when perusing the list of other Tech Park members, the facility still hosts local companies that were once startups, but are now well beyond the incubator stage, such as CellControl and MasteryPrep.
But that’s because they’re anchor tenants, acting as mentors to new businesses, says Executive Director Stephen Loy, adding such firms do not get the subsidized rental rates that startup companies enjoy.
“They’re anchor tenants, not incubator companies,” Loy says. “They pay more traditional rates.”
As for new members, the Catapult tenant is technically a new arm of the firm called Kydos, which will develop reputation management software, so it’s different from Catapult’s marketing business and has the same “start-up mentality” as other tenants in the incubator, says CEO David Maples. Catapult will also add 10 new employees dedicated to the Kydos division at the Tech Park.
“There is a question about that,” Maples says. “I didn’t want the perception to be that we’re a startup, but we believe Kydos’ goals align with the Tech Park mission to help with new initiatives building things out. Catapult never was in an incubator.”
Loy admits that he, too, had reservations about Catapult as a new incubator tenant.
“I totally get it,” he says. “I had the same question: Why Catapult?”
But after he learned more about the Kydos software development division, Loy says, he realized the new venture is separate from Catapult and fits in well with the incubator’s focus on technology startups.
Maples adds that Catapult, as a marketing firm, is not a scalable business. But the Kydos software—which will allow clients to manage reviews on platforms such as Yelp or Google—is a business service with room to grow, which is where the tech park can help.
Even as the Tech Park continues relationships with older firms that started there, Loy says that doesn’t mean the mission—as an incubator providing tech startups resources and support—has in changed.
Bascom Hunter, for example, has been at the Tech Park for a little more than three years, says CEO Andy McCandless. The average incubator company takes three to five years of growth before moving out, he estimates. His firm may be ready to leave the Tech Park within the next year or so, depending on its growth.
“I care about the tech entrepreneurial scene in Louisiana, and it is tough,” McCandless says. “We don’t have a lot of investment capital to accelerate things or the customers typically. There’s definitely a need for the Tech Park to help nurture these companies.”