Scale Up:  Building Capacity for Sustained Company Growth

Targeted Growth Strategies Yield Results

by Deborah Hoover

Northeast Ohio is building a community of mid-sized companies seeking to grow their operations through hyper-focus on customers, capacity, and cash.  Since 2017, more than 60 Ohio companies with revenue between $5 million and $15 million have completed a robust educational opportunity for entire teams to learn together through the Scalerator program. 

Scalerator NEO is a six-month highly interactive learning opportunity established by famed ecosystem builder Dan Isenberg, founder of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Platform designed “to help societies around the world create the policies, structures, programs and climate that foster entrepreneurship.”  Isenberg believes that smart economic development should focus energy on helping existing companies with established sales to grow so they are positioned to increase sales, add jobs, and inspire other local firms of all sizes and stages to grow.

Scalerator touts impressive results, with 75% of participating companies increasing growth significantly following program completion.  Worldwide, almost 500 companies have participated in Scalerator to date, with previous cohorts taking place in Northeast Ohio, Milwaukee, Manizales (Colombia), Atlantic Canada, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Guatemala, and Trinidad/Tobago.  The globally renowned Scale Up team of Daniel Isenberg, Elaine Eisenman, Kevin Mulcahy and Tim Marken delivers the Scalerator program based on over a century of collective experience growing companies and decades of experience teaching at Harvard, Babson, Columbia and leading business schools.

The richness of the experience is enhanced by the mix of industry sectors in the cohort providing fertile ground for a successful Scalerator experience.  During full cohort and small group sessions, company leaders and their teams work on their businesses in real time, learning from each other in unexpected and powerful ways.  At each monthly day-and-a-half long session, companies share their recent growth stories, prompting their fellow cohort members to gain insights and experiment with fresh approaches.  The program is now offered in a blended virtual/live format.  Relationships continue after the program concludes through the growing Scalerator NEO alumni network that supports recruitment and growth of incoming cohort companies. 

Rich Gent, co-owner of Gent Machine Company in Cleveland, Ohio, participated in Cohort 3 during 2019.  Gent Machine is a certified producer of screw machine parts in steel, brass, and aluminum.  Rich Gent reflected on his team’s experience: “The Scalerator program has been huge for us; we learned so much in the last six months. It’s helped us change our culture, helped us hire the right people, and helped us increase our sales.”  Other Scalerator graduate companies echo these sentiments.

Scalerator NEO is supported by Burton D. Morgan Foundation and Fasenmyer Fund, established at Morgan Foundation by the former Richard J. Fasenmyer Foundation, a collaboration committed to targeted educational opportunities for business leaders seeking to expand their companies.  EDGE, a non-profit economic development organization focused on innovation and entrepreneurship in Northeast Ohio, serves as program administrator. Funds from Morgan Foundation and Fasenmyer Fund cover the costs of Scalerator NEO, and no fees are charged to participating companies.  Application for 2022 cohort six opens in October 2021 (