RTD offers start-ups a place to start

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Richmond Times-Dispatch is getting into the entrepreneur business. The newspaper is inviting start-up companies to share office space in their building, hoping to help the ventures grow.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch is not only going through a major transition to new ownership under Berkshire Hathaway, the newspaper is also taking on this new project. They call it 1E.

Floricane, a consulting firm, is the first to move into the ground floor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Floricane owner John Sarvay told us about his company. "Floricane works with organizations throughout Central Virginia, helping them with organizational change."

The RTD is looking for more entrepreneurs and start-up businesses to share a 4000 square foot office space.

Said Sarvay, "Here we have an opportunity, at ground zero, to start a process with an established business, the Times-Dispatch, with eight or nine new businesses in various stages of development."

RTD Publisher Tom Silvestri says the concept is to let the start-ups exchange ideas and resources with each other and with the newspaper.

"So we can learn from them and they can learn from us," he told us.

It's an experiment, with a tentative name: 1E, inspired by the Greater Richmond Chamber's I-E start-up business competition. And they're looking for certain types of businesses.

Explained Sarvay, "Businesses that line up with where they are, technology, distribution and logistics, advertising, and different ways of engaging a community are all critical to where media is going in the 21st century."

Silvestri says they had the idea a few years before Media General sold the paper to Berkshire Hathaway. They hope renting the office space will be a successful business venture, but say it's not their focus.

"That's not necessarily our lead, but all the people are in the building to help us make a profit. I would say it's secondary, but it is part of the process, and part of the consideration," said Silvestri.

He says the RTD is still discovering how the paper will run under Berkshire Hathaway, but hints that more new ideas could be coming.

"We don't have anything major," Silvestri said, "but the transition itself is huge. We're starting to build momentum, and we're starting to get back to the question of 'what if?' So stay tuned."

Start-ups that want to take part can apply to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The newspaper hopes to have them selected by October and moved in by the new year.

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