20 Fathoms Tech Incubator Graduates Two Startups from Entrepreneur Hub

A local tech incubator reached a pretty big milestone Friday night.

20 Fathoms in Traverse City graduated their first two startups.

The tech hub, which itself was established in July, helped the companies make enough money to get their businesses off the ground and able to stand on their own.

20 Fathoms toasted SampleServ and Atlas Space Operations Friday, who both raised millions in capital and are now hiring and operating independently.

They used 20 Fathoms collaborative workplace and connections to help reach their goals.

“20 Fathoms [does] anything from helping to create connections to raise money to investors, to grants, sometimes it’s just connections to other peers in the field,” said Andy Cole, executive director at 20 Fathoms. “Tonight is the reason why we exist.”

Atlas Space Operations has contracts with NASA, NOAA and companies around the world and is one of the incubator’s success stories.

They help international satellites communicate with their ground teams and they build antennas.

“We have revenue, we have contracts, we have an employee base, we’re at the next stage of our growth,” said Mark Malosh, the chief operating officer at Atlas.

Another 20 Fathoms graduate, SampleServ, creates environmental software company. They help geologists and other scientists graph and track their field samples.

Their CEO says 20 Fathoms helped his company work through challenges and become inspired.

“It’s a great place for people to bounce ideas off each other even though some people will work in a different industry than you,” said Russell Schindler, SampleServe’s CEO.

Atlas and SampleServe plan to continue investing their talents locally in Traverse City.

And 20 Fathoms wants to help other companies do that, too.

“It’s critically important that we retain and attract talent to this space we feel like were absolutely doing our part,” said Cole.

Tech investors say they want to think locally and recruit the best minds, globally.

“What we want to be is the center hub … for really smart people to want to hang together and get together,” said Casey Cowell, investor and philanthropist. “We never had a seat at the table in the past, now we have a seat at every table, and we should.”