Vantage Ventures now includes 29 startups

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Vantage Ventures is making its mark in Morgantown.

The WVU campus-based effort, part of the John C. Chambers School of Business and Economics, hopes to be the Mid-Atlantic version of Silicon Valley. Vantage Ventures is currently home to 29 early-stage companies ranging from clean energy, biotech to artificial intelligence.

Sarah Billier

Vantage Ventures executive director Sarah Biller said the organization provides expertise, connections and a place to turn ideas into profitable businesses that create jobs and solve problems or add value to lives.

Biller said what has been accomplished is even more amazing considering that Vantage Ventures opened four months before the pandemic began.

“We opened up and in March 2020, COVID really shut down the world,” Biller said.

Use the resources and experience of the WVU team and beyond the organization to give startups insight into business, marketing, and other unrelated but necessary tasks to keep a business viable.

“To be a support structure for West Virginians who live in the state, or for people who see West Virginia as a good place to start a tech business, Biller said.

Biller said the group’s goal is to create a new wave of entrepreneurs who will also bring good jobs to the state. The group has a wide range of alumni, community leaders and experts to advise startups.

“This community is made up of individuals who may have left the state of West Virginia, but have extensive industry experience or have been entrepreneurs themselves,” Biller said.

The wide range of expertise provides a stable base of information on the realities of the business world. The fact that maintaining a business and a customer base is probably much more difficult than the initial start-up phase.

“We want them to attract customers and also raise capital,” Biller said. “This is a very important business when you’re a start-up business because you don’t qualify for conventional bank loans.”

One of the first additions to Vantage Ventures is now a success – Iconic Air. West Virginia natives Kyle Gillis and James Carnes used their passion for drones to develop software used in the oil and gas industry to measure emissions. Iconic Air achieved $1 million in revenue in 2021.

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