The Blog

BeachIt Brings Hassle Free Parking Solution to the Shore

Company Uses Peer Economy Approach to Transform Unused Parking Spaces into Valuable Assets

Belmar, NJ, July 3, 2020 – Have you ever been discouraged from going to your favorite beach because you didn’t want to deal with parking? So was New Jersey native Andrew Smith., He created a solution and launched BeachIt, an app that leverages the shared economy concept to parking. BeachIt unites the owners of unused parking spaces - from driveways to lots - with beachgoers in search of a space to park, and creates a win-win situation for both parties.

BeachIt is currently available this summer at select beaches along the New Jersey and New York shores, and is looking to expand to states with more year-round beach seasonality like California and Florida. The concept of BeachIt is simple: hosts can enroll their available parking space through the site and set an hourly rate. Beachgoers search for an available space by location and book it. Pictures of the spaces are provided by the host, reviews are submitted by the user, and payment is all online. The issue of circling streets for a space dissolves, and residents, business owners and organizations can cash in on their unused parking space.

“One summer I found myself driving around for 45 minutes looking for parking to get to the beach, and when I finally found a spot, I had to walk twenty minutes,” says BeachIt co-founder Andrew Smith. “Along my walk I passed multiple driveways and parking lots that were empty, and I thought, ‘these could be rented out, like an Airbnb-concept’. So I started building the idea for BeachIt.”

BeachIt is a family affair. The company’s team includes Andrew, his brother Chris, his mother Elizabeth, and co-founder Andrew Dombrowiecki. Andrew, a rising senior at Middlebury College, brought his idea to the College’s program “Midd Entrepreneurs”, run by the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET). He intentionally took the course to focus on evolving the parking concept into a real business. BeachIt’s investors primarily consist of friends and family,but the team recently took 2nd place and was awarded $2k in funding in a collegiate pitch competition sponsored by Launch VT.

“When we first met Andrew in the Midd Entrepreneur course, we loved his idea and knew that he had the foundation to build something meaningful that would solve an existing frustration,” says Sam Roach-Gerber, director of Innovation at VCET and Midd Entrepreneur course co-instructor. “Andrew not only had a good idea, but he also has the professionalism and wisdom to realize that great ideas can take time to work out, and he is constantly iterating on the business and is open to ideas. That’s the mark of a solid business owner and leader.”

The concept of BeachIt goes beyond solving frustrated beachgoers on the verge of parking rage. BeachIt notes that 30 percent of beach traffic is caused by spot-searchers, creating unnecessary idling and emissions. BeachIt hopes that its solution will help alleviate those issues by increasing parking capacity. To find your spot, or to become a host, visit The iphone and android app will launch in the coming weeks.

Burlington Code Keeps Local Tech Workforce Competitive Through Knowledge Sharing

Burlington, VT (June 13, 2020) – Burlington Code’s drive to make Burlington the tech center of Vermont and New England just received renewed support from the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) to keep up the meetups. Volunteer-run Burlington Code, which brings together the tech community of software professionals and hobbyists through regular, free meetups to share knowledge, foster collaboration, and keep careers and companies competitive, has produced more than 104 meetup events in the past 26 months, and welcomed an average of 30 people at each event.

Burlington Code was formed in 2015 by Jon Hoguet, a software engineer who sought skills and knowledge through meetups early in his career.

“As I entered the workforce as a software engineer, I found meetups extremely helpful in keeping up with the rapid changes in technology,” said Hoguet. “Running Burlington Code was a way for me to pay it forward, but I noticed a consistent, unmet need: not around great speakers, but a lack of venues and the coordination of event schedules. It seemed that the solution was to solve the problem for all existing meetups in the area, which would enable everyone to focus on the exciting content available, not time consuming logistics.”

Burlington Code’s partners on content include many of the local meetup groups such as Burlington JavaScript, Burlington WordPress, VT Agile, Burlington Data Scientists, and Burlington Python, as well as specialized events like Community of Opportunity.

“Tech meetups provide essential opportunities for networking, especially for those who are outside the typical age range or gender of the group, or otherwise might not have chances to engage with fellow developers,” said event attendee Rebecca Grenier. “These meetup events expose our community to new technical ideas and possibilities, which increase developer skills sets and company innovation.”

Because Burlington Code is fully run by volunteer effort, it requires partnership and sponsorship to keep it running. Main Street Landing provides a consistent venue, and financial support has come from the strategic partnership with VCET, and donations from companies like Symbiotic Labs,, and Daft Labs.

“Between the dedication of the volunteer team at Burlington Code and the popularity of the meetups, we knew this was something VCET needed to get behind and support in a big way,” said David Bradbury, president of VCET. “In our city and state, we have a solid community of technologists, entrepreneurs and business leaders who all share a common goal of having a strong, scalable workforce. It’s critical that we support groups like Burlington Code that are actively engaging and promoting a contemporary workforce, and have our community’s best interest in mind.”

Anish Gupta, another workshop attendee, says, “I never expected to have such a real-hands on experience. I feel the workshop was a good introduction to IoT and an amazing place to meet new people.”

Burlington Code meetups happen the 1st and 3rd Monday and Wednesday of every month. Organizations are encouraged to leverage the meetups to help keep their employees connected to the latest developments in their specific area of focus, and additional sponsors are critical to sustaining the volunteer-driven program. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or attending an event, please visit

VCET’s Female Founder Series Raises Funds And Awareness For Working Women In Vermont

Groundbreaking, Sell Out Series Features Female Entrepreneurs Sharing Startup Stories of Success and Challenges

Burlington, VT (May 29, 2020) – The Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) concluded its second Female Founders Speaker Series this past Spring, and is proud to share the scope of the program’s impact and inspiration to entrepreneurs everywhere. Launched in the Fall of 2016, the Female Founders events cumulatively welcomed more than 650 attendees; heard from 25 of the state’s women entrepreneurs; and raised about $8,000 for some of Vermont’s most critical non-profits, including the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington, Girl Develop It, The Good Food Truck, and more.

The Female Founders Speaker Series is an extension of VCET’s vision of supporting Vermont-based innovative start-ups, and is co-founded with and hosted by Hotel Vermont. The theme-based panel discussions in an intimate, limited-seating venue at Hotel Vermont, produce organic, meaningful conversations about the unique situations surrounding the intentional and accidental female entrepreneurs. Each event either fully or nearly sells out, and ticket sales help generate funding for key initiatives, such as Vermont Works for Women.

“Every event I attended was packed, which is a real testament to the entrepreneurial energy of women in Vermont,” said Jen Oldham, Executive Director at Vermont Works for Women. Vermont Works for Women is honored to be recognized by VCET as a worthy community partner with a shared commitment to helping women succeed and fulfill their potential.”

The second season of VCET’s Female Founders series showcased some of the area’s most intriguing business ideas to locally-based, world renowned brands.

  • Event 1: Building a Global Brand in Vermont. Burton’s CEO Donna Carpenter and members of her senior leadership team.
  • Event 2: Sustainability and Personal Care. Business leaders Akshata Nayak, founder, The Orange Owl; Kate Williams, CEO of 1% For The Planet and co-founder of Vermont Yak Company; Magda Van Dusen, co-founder of Brio Coffeeworks; and Montana Burns, founder of Atlas Acupuncture.
  • Event 3: Makers Matter. Retailers Sarah Beal, co-founder of Common Deer; Tessa Valyou, co-founder of New Duds; Britt Witt, co-founder of Red House, and Jen Kahn, founder of Jennifer Kahn Jewelry.

“Speaking on the ‘Female Founders: Makers Matter’ panel for VCET was an exhilarating and enriching experience,” said Britt Witt, co-founder, Red House. “Engaging with this female-empowering community and sharing knowledge with one another was an honor to take part in. I feel truly grateful to be supported by both current and up-and-coming entrepreneurs, and thrilled to offer my support to them in return. Can we do this all the time!?”

“A couple of years ago, we took note of an undeniable trend of the growing number of women entrepreneurs in Vermont, and felt there was an opportunity to help their stories be shared and heard,” said Sam Roach-Gerber, Director of Innovation at VCET. “What we instantly found was a deep appetite to learn - not in a linear way, but from a multidimensional exchange among the panelists and audience members and everything in between. We are thrilled how the Female Founders series continues to pay it forward, and are looking forward to announcing the lineup for our next series starting fall 2018.”

The entire series has been filmed by VCET’s media sponsor, RETN. Information and links to previous events can be found at

VCET’s Latest Podcast #StartHere Features Vermont Entrepreneurs On Forbes’ 30 Under 30

Founders of Skida and Filabot Dig Deep into their Startup Experience in #StartHere Interviews

Burlington, VT (April 9, 2020) – Securing a place on the prestigious Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list is no simple feat. The selection of youthful visionaries is carefully performed by a combination of seasoned reporters, A-list expert judges and an online community, and the end result is an annual collection of creative young stars disrupting their respective industries. This year, two Vermonters rose to the top and are featured among the leaders in Manufacturing: Corinne Prevot of Skida; and Tyler McNaney of Filabot. VCET recently sat down with the two young leaders for its #StartHere podcast, and the interviews are now available.

“Being interviewed on Start Here was a ‘full-circle’ moment, bringing me back to Skida’s early stages while I attended Middlebury College,” said Prevot. “VCET is one of many great resources and has always been a staple in Vermont’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The community here is very receptive to a locally-made product and I feel lucky to have so much support along this journey!”

VCET, which is home to active, aspiring, and accidental entrepreneurs, chatted with the acclaimed founders about their inspiration, successes, and the forbidden “f” word: failures. The interviews are featured on VCET’s #StartHere podcast, which has listeners worldwide and is available for streaming via iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play, and most recently, Spotify.

“It was such a thrill to speak to Corinne and Tyler about their recent brush of fame with the Forbes listing, and the different ways each of them scratched the proverbial entrepreneurial itch,” said David Bradbury, President of VCET. “The stories they share in the podcast are so interesting, inspiring and valuable to everyone. Whether it’s hearing about Corinne’s campfire analogy to starting a business, or Tyler’s first venture turning acorns into pencil caps in elementary school, these interviews will entertain and make you proud of what we are doing here in Vermont.” McNaney commented, “Vermont is a phenomenal place to have a business. Amazing support systems, nature at your door, and independence that inspires.”

Innovation and entrepreneurialism go hand-in-hand with higher learning, and when united, that trifecta can produce leaders who have the potential to revolutionize an industry and help generate jobs in Vermont. VCET brings together higher education, economic development and entrepreneurs through programs like Middlebury College’s ‘Midd Entrepreneurs’, which Prevot attended while in school, and the organization hosts over 190 coworking and startup members across three facilities, and has advised more than 1,600 businesses and entrepreneurs across Vermont.

About VCET

Advancing innovation and entrepreneurship, the non-profit Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) provides expert business mentoring, technology professional networking, three coworking and accelerator facilities in Middlebury and Burlington, innovation programs, and early-stage venture capital. VCET manages the Vermont Seed Capital Fund, LP, a revolving $5 million venture capital investment fund. In 2013, VCET was named #11 globally and #5 in the U.S. by the UBI Index. Visit,

follow @VCET and listen to #StartHere podcast.

Burlington, VT (March 13, 2018) – Small satellite propulsion technology developer Benchmark Space Systems announced it is well positioned to launch and scale now, thanks to a recent round of venture capital seed funding.

The groundbreaking team of aerospace engineers, who are nurturing their company’s growth through their involvement with the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) and the University of Vermont’s innovation programs, develops chemical propulsion systems for small satellites that enable them to be remotely steered in space.

As space exploration and the desire to connect the world digitally via satellites increases, so too does the need to manage the positioning of the satellites and mitigate the risk they pose to the space ecosystem. When large, billion-dollar satellites coexist in space with thousands of small satellites, the opportunity for collision increases. The result ranges from costly to hazardous.

“For several years now, Benchmark Space Systems has been working on a breakthrough solution that allows small satellites, including CubeSats [cube satellites], to be relocated using a propulsion system that is safe, reliable, and inexpensive,” said Ryan McDevitt, co-founder and CEO of Benchmark Space Systems. “Colliding satellites in space produces hazardous debris and impacts the operations of vital communication, defense and navigation satellites. Our product offers a way to safely steer CubeSats and other small satellites amongst other space traffic to prevent collisions and reduce harmful waste.”

In addition to making small satellites safer, Benchmark Space’s propulsion systems can significantly increase the value of each satellite by increasing the amount of time they stay in space.  “Small satellites are typically launched into low altitude orbits,” explains McDevitt. “At those altitudes, a small satellite will deorbit and burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere in a few years or even as little as a few months.  Our DFAST propulsion system has the potential to double the life expectancy of a small satellite.” With the average cost to build, launch, and manage each small satellite mission running over $750,000, increasing the mission duration is an important benefit for customers.

“Benchmark Space is a great example of why Vermont invested in VCET’s Vermont Seed Capital Fund,” said Vermont’s U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy. “Early investment support for Benchmark Space has allowed the company to develop right here in Vermont the next generation space technology to address one of the greatest hazards to satellites: space junk.  

Benchmark is an industry leader in space technology, and that is good for Vermont and our country.”

Leahy added, “With this latest round of seed-stage funding, this team is in the right place at the right time to uniquely serve the top 20 global small satellite operators and several government agencies. This next-generation space technology will be used globally.  It’s being developed right here in Vermont, and that’s incredibly exciting.”

Benchmark Space Systems has used its funding to invest in the hiring of two engineers.  Joining the company are Paul Shepherd, Ph.D. in electrical engineering, and previously an engineer for Sonos; and Matt Walton, B.S. in mechanical engineering, and recent graduate from the University of Vermont.  Expert space and business advisers have been added that include former NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck and serial venture-backed CEO Everett McGinley.

“Quite literally, two rocket scientists walked thru our doorway,” said David Bradbury, president of VCET. “This is what we do at VCET: we support entrepreneurs - from rocket scientists to coders to beverage makers - and help them pull together the necessary elements to get them to the next level of success from wherever they are in the growth stage. It’s been extremely rewarding to watch and support the Benchmark Space team take off and develop proprietary capabilities that solve the rapidly growing challenges with space traffic, debris and life expectancy of satellites.”

About Benchmark Space

Benchmark Space Systems is working toward a future where small satellites provide easy access to space for businesses, scientists, and universities.  From offices in South Burlington, VT, Benchmark Space serves customers around the world with innovative space technologies. Visit and follow @benchmarkspace

About VCET

Advancing innovation and entrepreneurship, the non-profit Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) provides expert business mentoring, technology professional networking, three coworking and accelerator facilities in Middlebury and Burlington, innovation programs, and early-stage venture capital.  VCET manages the Vermont Seed Capital Fund, LP, a revolving $5 million venture capital investment fund. In 2013, VCET was named #11 globally and #5 in the U.S. by the UBI Index. Visit, follow @VCET and listen to #StartHere podcast.


Dr. David Rosowsky and Don Laackman Join Board of Directors at Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies

Leaders from University of Vermont and Champlain College Help Unite Entrepreneurialism, Innovation and Higher Learning at VCET

Burlington, VT (January 10, 2021) – To support and inspire the growing number of student and alumni entrepreneurs, the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) expanded its board of directors with the appointment of two leaders from the higher education sector. University of Vermont (UVM) Provost Dr. David Rosowsky and Champlain College President Don Laackman are the newest members of the VCET board, and emphasize the necessary role higher education plays in driving innovation and economic development at the campus level and across Vermont.

Dr. Rosowsky has served as provost and senior vice president of UVM since 2013. He came to UVM from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he served as dean of engineering. He holds BS and MS degrees in civil engineering from Tufts University, and a PhD in civil engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

Mr. Laackman was named president of Champlain College in 2014. Prior to this position, he served as president of Harold Washington College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, and held leadership positions at Civic Consulting Alliance and the global consulting firm, Accenture.

Founded by the Vermont Technology Council, UVM and U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy in 2005, VCET serves as the innovation epicenter in Vermont where higher education, economic development and entrepreneurs intersect in order to start and scale new business ventures.  VCET hosts over 190 coworking and startup members across three facilities in downtown Middlebury, and in Burlington at UVM and the FairPoint Technology Hub, and has advised more than 1,600 businesses and entrepreneurs across Vermont.  

“The addition of innovative leaders like Don and David bring immediate benefits to the entrepreneurs and Vermont communities VCET serves,” said David Bradbury, VCET President. “This is awesome news and we are so thankful for their time and expertise.”

Dr. Rosowsky and Mr. Laackman join VCET’s current board members which include:

  • Frank Cioffi, president of GBIC
  • Lisa Ventriss, president and CEO of the Vermont Business Roundtable
  • John N. Evans, PhD, adviser for Business Engagement, UVM
  • Elizabeth Robinson, associate dean of the College for Creativity, Engagement & Careers, Middlebury College
  • Mike Lane, private investor and co-founder of
  • Janette Bombardier, senior vice president at Green Mountain Power
  • Briar Alpert, president and CEO of BioTek Instruments, Inc.
  • Gavin R. Berger, entrepreneur and entertainment executive
  • Scott Bailey, executive director for North America, MassChallenge
  • Dr. Richard Schneider, president of Norwich University

About VCET
Advancing innovation and entrepreneurship, the non-profit Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) provides expert business mentoring, technology professional networking, three coworking and accelerator facilities in Middlebury and Burlington, innovation programs, and early stage venture capital.  VCET manages the Vermont Seed Capital Fund, LP, a revolving $5 million venture capital investment fund.  In 2013, VCET was named #11 globally and #5 in the U.S. by the UBI Index. Visit, follow @VCET and listen to #StartHere podcast.


Sam Roach-Gerber Promoted to Director of Innovation at Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies

(July 6, 2020) – The Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) announced the promotion of Samantha “Sam” Roach-Gerber to Director of Innovation, a role in which she will continue to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship throughout Vermont.SRGheadshot

Since starting as VCET’s Manager of Community Engagement and Operations in February 2016, Roach-Gerber has expanded membership to over 170 members across three locations, launched and co-hosted VCET’s podcast, Start Here, and spearheaded the Female Founders Speaker Series, which highlights some of Vermont’s most innovative women entrepreneurs.

“Sam adds value to entrepreneurs and Vermont’s innovation ecosystem in so many ways,” said David Bradbury, President of VCET. “She is moving the needle forward for Vermont’s startups and the VCET organization.”

Roach-Gerber will take on the role of Director of Innovation beginning July 1st, working to expand the organization’s programming and partnerships for the continued benefit of Vermont’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. She will also take on a more active role in coaching and consulting the 300+ entrepreneurs that come through VCET’s doors each year seeking business advice and mentoring.


Congratulations to VCET member Artur Adib on the launch of AllYouCanTech, a resource that alleviates a problem we’ve all faced: finding tech employers, jobs, and events in Vermont. You can read more about the launch of AllYouCanTech in this press release.

Read on here…

Start Here co-hosts Sam Roach-Gerber and David Bradbury had the pleasure of joining the team at Fox 44 this morning to discuss entrepreneurship, podcasting, and innovation.

Check out the full interview here, and be sure to subscribe to Start Here on Soundcloud and iTunes!