When Karen Campbell was a child, her father nurtured in her a young entrepreneur. He taught her at an early age how to run her own business, collect payments, manage her money, and find new clients.
“Dad owned investment properties and I would help him with renovations and clean up,” she explained. “After taking piano lessons for a few years he said I was good enough to teach others to play and suggested I start doing it for money. So from fourth grade through college I taught children and adults to play the piano.”
Her father’s encouragement and mentorship was key to her success and it instilled in her a love for developing, creating, and growing businesses. Now she is sharing that knowledge and passion with other entrepreneurs as the first Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in Allentown. For the next six months on a volunteer basis, Campbell will offer consulting services to the clients in Bridgeworks’ Business Incubation Program.
Campbell graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in chemical engineering and then moved to the Lehigh Valley for a job with Air Products. During her 30-year tenure with the company she worked in business development focusing on new markets and technologies such as the hydrogen fuel cell business.
After leaving Air Products she began volunteering with Lehigh Valley SCORE, which connected her to the local business community as she started her own business, Strix Insights Consulting, LLC. AEDC invited SCORE to use the Coworking space for its client meetings, and it was there she met Bridgeworks Program Manager Anthony Durante. After getting to know each other they started a conversation about the entrepreneur-in-residence concept that Durante had seen at other successful incubation programs around the country; something he’d wanted to bring to Bridgeworks.
“I’m excited to help AEDC clients be more successful by sharing my experience from working in over a dozen start-up operations and consulting on hundreds of business projects over the past eight years. I have learned and applied many marketing and innovation tools and processes to these venture opportunities that most entrepreneurs don’t have experience with or the time to investigate.”
Campbell wants to help the startups in Bridgeworks by leveraging those skills to achieve their goals. “I enjoy the creativity that goes into building something brand new from the ground up as well as helping others building their own creations.”
“As the first EIR at AEDC, it will take time to determine how I can best help these companies, and for the companies to determine how to leverage my knowledge to meet their needs. As EIR I can do things like answer day-to-day questions, help them adopt business process to improve efficiency, or provide an outside perspective on their business they may be too close to see.”
“I want to help these companies to help themselves,” she explained. “I can be that outside observer that sees all aspects of their business and can help focus them and get them be more disciplined with their program development, their financial approach. I can remove the emotional element that often comes with being too close to your own business to see it objectively.”
And Campbell practices what she preaches; she and her husband started their own business last May, a real estate investment company, and have purchased a 10-unit apartment building in Quakertown. They hope to purchase more properties throughout the year.
Durante plans to steadily introduce Campbell to the clients at Bridgeworks through various general education opportunities and speaking engagements in the coming weeks. She is already actively working one-on-one with two incubator clients in order to help implement long-term growth strategies that will be key drivers in their success.