New business at South Jersey Tech Park defying the odds

New business at South Jersey Tech Park defying the odds

In a time when the unemployment rate is spiking, Stephen Gill has grown his business’ staff 400 percent in the past year.
In a time when the unemployment rate is spiking, Stephen Gill has grown his business’ staff 400 percent in the past year.

In a shuddering economy, Stephen Gill has watched his revenue double each month since the start of 2009.

In an era where long-established firms are closing their doors, Stephen Gill is looking for more space.

Stephen Gill, by the way, is just 23 years old.

With the heart — and mind — of an entrepreneur, the May 2008 graduate of Rowan University’s Rohrer College of Business founded the firm Socialreach a month shy of his college graduation, when he earned a B.A. in entrepreneurship.

He’s been putting his education to work ever since, and in January he moved into the Rohrer College of Business Incubator at the South Jersey Technology Park at Rowan University, located in Mantua Township off Rt. 55 about two miles from his alma mater.

Since then, he’s been working up to 70 hours a week, and his efforts are paying off beautifully. Today, he and his business partner, Gabriel Malca, 24, from Montreal, oversee a staff of 16 at the Tech Park, in New York City and in Montreal. Gill admits he doesn’t have  much spare time to relax.

Socialreach focuses on social networking games and applications, according to the Manahawkin native, who now lives in Glassboro.  Today the firm is the largest tenant in the Rohrer College of Business Incubator, and it also maintains ties to the college’s related Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE).

Gill appreciates the good fit — he not only leases space in the Incubator, housed on the Tech Park’s first floor, but he also has access to the professors who taught him for four years.

He started the business out virtually but decided to search for office space for the next stage of growth, he said of the move into the Tech Park. The Tech Park houses several other firms in the Incubator and a dozen Rowan University College of Engineering labs for sponsored research.

Running a company is nothing new to Gill, who always wanted to head his own operation. He had a landscaping business in middle school and a computer networking/web design company in high school.

“I had other companies while I was in college. This was just a spinoff,” he said. An earlier firm — NoLimit Interactive Media — also was Internet based.

Right now, the future is wide open for Gill and company. “Our type of business thrives in this economy. We’re in a really hot part of the market right now,” said the 2004 graduate of Southern Regional High School. “I’d like to continue to grow and diversify the business.”

He’s not sure exactly what tomorrow holds, but he expects to add to his staff in the future. Though he’s in no hurry, he noted, “We’re looking for rock stars.”

“What the future holds for Socialreach is somewhat unpredictable as the online space is constantly evolving. One of our biggest strengths is our ability to embrace change in the space and quickly jump on new opportunities,” Gill said.
He’s happy with how far he and his partner have come, in particular about doing so much on their own. “(I’m proudest) simply that we were able to grow this business organically without any outside funding and have become a marketplace leader in less than a year,” Gill said.

Sarah Piddington, interim CIE director, said Socialreach has “taken over” the Incubator, which has room to expand in the future at the Tech Park. “To see him be so successful is exciting for the CIE and the Incubator and for the College of Business and Rowan University. He is the poster child for what we’re trying to do at the Tech Park.”