Representatives of startup companies housed in the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator came together on Monday afternoon for a panel discussing the challenges and perks of being an entrepreneur.

Approximately 130 Binghamton University Forum members and guests involved with businesses in the Binghamton area were in attendance at the panel, which was held in Downtown Binghamton. The Forum is a membership-based organization focused on fostering a relationship with the University and the surrounding community and hosts various events throughout the year, including panels and speaker series. This specific panel was planned in collaboration with Dan Mori, director of business incubation at BU, and featured three hand-selected panelists who work in the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator.

The event began with an opening address from BU President Harvey Stenger. During his speech, he discussed BU’s growth and future, and its impact on the surrounding community.

Afterward, Mori introduced himself and the panelists, which included representatives from Bandalier, a company that connects larger technology companies with employees; Enduraphin, a production company helping athletes access post-workout nutrition; and Pressure Ulcer Prevention Pad, Inc., an engineering company that is working on a device to help prevent and treat pressure ulcers.

According to Mori, he chose these companies to contribute to the panel because they have shown growth in various areas and he believes they exemplify what the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator has to offer.

“I tried to look at what our core mission is, what we’re trying to accomplish and wanted to pick some companies that directly aligned with our mission,” Mori said. “And ultimately our mission is to assist in economic development and efforts with a sub-core focus on startup activity and entrepreneurship.”

Each representative answered an array of questions about their company’s successes and difficulties and how the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator has impacted them. Although the companies are at varying stages within their developments, each representative agreed that the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator is essential to their company’s growth and success. Nathaniel Fisher ‘17, the co-founder of Pressure Ulcer Prevention Pad, Inc., credited the incubator with the formation of the company itself.

“Without the [Koffman Southern Tier Incubator] we wouldn’t have formed as a company, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Fisher said. “But with advice from our professors who directed us toward the incubator and toward [Mori], they’re the ones that really helped guide us to forming a business plan, thinking about where we wanted to be and answering a lot of the questions we didn’t even ask.”

Steve Campbell, the Forum’s vice chair of the membership committee, said these types of events are meant to promote a better relationship between the community and the University.

“We’re trying to foster collaboration — that’s one of our missions,” Campbell said. “I don’t know another way, especially where people in the business community would have this kind of access to hear what’s going on so they could either get involved, spread the good word or network with other people.”

The panel is also intended to educate aspiring entrepreneurs on what it takes to start a business. Mori said he knew what he wanted to pursue business professionally at a young age. He attended Corning Community College for a period of time before dropping out to become an entrepreneur. For Mori, the transition was difficult, but ultimately freeing.

“I just knew pretty early on that business was what I wanted to pursue and what I’m passionate about, so I just left and never looked back,” Mori said. “The best thing I can say is it’s incredibly liberating — the work is certainly hard, but it’s worth it. Being able to really control your life or being able to dictate what you want is worth it.”