When student start-ups with little credit, a short track record and uncertain prospects need to expand, they turn to Carter Winstanley.
In addition to overseeing the renovation and rebuilding of dilapidated properties in Science Park, Winstanley, co-owner of Winstanley Enterprises, a Massachusetts real estate development company, works closely with the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute to help young entrepreneurs obtain flexible leases and affordable space in his buildings in Science Park.
Because Winstanley was an entrepreneur himself, he is uniquely suited to understanding the needs of entrepreneurs, said Shana Schneider, deputy director of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute.
“Landlords are not known historically for their great flexibility, and yet young companies are frequently faced with great adversity and variability in their businesses,” Winstanley said. “A landlord that can act more as a strategic partner than an inflexible institution will prove important [to a start-up].”
Most landlords try to avoid tenants who do not lease a lot of space and have little credit, Winstanley said. But he seeks out these tenants because they drive economies, create jobs and sometimes expand and succeed. Of course, they also frequently fail, he said.
“Carter understands that [young entrpreneurs] can’t really take out a five year lease,” she said. “You don’t know if you’ll be there next year or if you’ll need 10 times the amount of space next year. For those [start-ups] that work, he’ll be able to grow with them.”
Growing up, Winstanley said he watched his father start a real estate development business in Massachusetts. During the “last recession” in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Winstanley said he and his brother started their own company buying and developing vacant buildings. Eventually, the brothers joined their company with their father’s.
“Between watching my father and starting our business immediately following school, real estate has really been all I’ve ever done,” Winstanley said. “I studied philosophy in school and am still looking for ways to put that skill set to work.”
Winstanley said he often will talk with the owners of fledgling start-ups to discuss their plans, even before they can afford to lease space for their businesses.
Bob Casey ’11, co-founder of YouRenew, a student start-up that recycles and resells used electronics, said he and his partner, Rich Littlehale ’10, worked closely with Winstanley to develop their lease and design and build their new office in Science Park, which they moved into in January.
“[Winstanley] is owed a great deal of credit for helping young businesses establish themselves in New Haven,” he said.
YouRenew is one of a number of New Haven start-ups moving to Science Park. Within the year, the YEI-based company Infinitronics may move to Science Park, Schneider said. The student-founded company is working on developing a new broadband internet device, and Schneider said she expects them to stay in New Haven as they grow the business.
If they move to Science Park, the founders of Infinitronics will join a community of young entrepreneurs that has set up roots there, including the founders of student financial services company HigherOne, technology start-up incubator CTECH and YouRenew.
“We’re extremely happy to be in a building with so many startups,” said Casey. “The new space has allowed us to better optimize our operations and continue to grow.”
Winstanley said he hopes New Haven will continue to provide an environment that will buck the larger trend in Connecticut of losing talented young graduates to neighboring states.
“Innovation today occurs in and around the strongest education centers and we are fortunate enough to be located in the heart of one of those centers,” Winstanley said. “If Yale and New Haven can provide the brainpower, I’ll try to provide the buildings.”
Pepsi Life Sciences and Helix Therapeutics also currently lease space from Winstanley in Science Park.