ColdEdge Technologies product display

When a business incubation program invites a tenant that is graduating from its program to stay on as an anchor tenant, that company has to be a shining example of what it means to be a startup. So when ColdEdge Technologies graduated from the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center’s program in 2017 and signed a five year lease to stay at Bridgeworks, it became only the second anchor tenant to do so. Founded in 2008, the company started at Bridgeworks in a 1,000 sq. ft. space and in under 10 years grew to 6,200 sq. ft.

“We’ve been developing ourselves and developing new products,” said Ajay Khatri, Co-Owner of ColdEdge. “We’ve focused on making our products more user-friendly and intuitive by understanding how our customers want to use them, and how we could incorporate their suggestions faster so they can be more productive.”

A Decade of Growth

Khatri and Co-Owners Terry Rufer and Jeff Romig use extremely low temperature cryogenics to build specialized refrigeration systems that remove noise and vibration in sensitive measurements that are used in laboratory experiments and research. “Whenever there is noise and vibration at atomic level measurements, cryogenic temperatures minimize the noise and vibration. Examples are cryogenic systems used inside MRIs, sensitive material characteristic experiments in physics and chemistry, space telescopes by NASA, and many more. It’s at the forefront of technology,” said Khatri.

Their custom systems are used in laboratories by scientists and researchers around the globe, including places like Berkeley, NASA, MIT, Cornell, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M domestically, and in Germany, Switzerland, Israel, India, Sweden, and the United Kingdom internationally, among many others.

A team of sales representatives domestic and abroad help ColdEdge promote their custom design capabilities and get them in front of the researchers whose facilities they will convince to ultimately buy a system. The company has been diligently broadening its offerings by developing more products with a modular design, such as The Stinger, which allows a researcher to use it for multiple experiments.

“Getting marketplace acceptance for our products was hard at first,” said Khatri. “We needed more flexibility to get people to buy more and different modules. Then we came up with a marketing method that our clients have responded to enthusiastically, and nine out of 10 times it results in a sale. We’ve doubled sales in the past year!”ColdEdge Technologies logo

Building relationships with early adopters of their products has been key since those individuals are influential and have the ability in many cases to dictate to a company or university which cryogenics system they will purchase. ColdEdge also attends industry trade shows which help to demonstrate their products.

Choosing Bridgeworks

“When we selected Bridgeworks to start our business it was in large part due to the flexibility of the space as well as the many amenities that were available,” Rufer explained. “Being able to stay in the building as our business grew without having to move was a big cost savings. The loading docks for shipping and the access to the large equipment was also beneficial. Then there were things like the professional programs with lawyers and accountants, and access to low interest loan programs, as well as partners like the state and Ben Franklin.”

But being able to work with the other startups in the building to get parts made or fixed was an ancillary benefit they hadn’t anticipated. “It’s really like a small community here,” Rufer continued. “While our businesses may each be different in scope, we can still relate to each other. Even when things don’t go according to plan with your business, you can talk to the other tenants about it. There’s a support structure here.”

“The support from the Bridgeworks team and the programming with local professionals on a range of general business topics was also critical to our success early on,” said Khatri. “It was a mutual decision between us and the Allentown Economic Development Corporation leadership that we’d stay on as an anchor tenant since the arrangement was mutually beneficial.”

Rufer credits a critical part of the company’s success to its choice to locate at Bridgeworks because it provides the type of environment he wants his company to be in. “Everyone works here. No one is sitting around. The other business owners are highly motivated. Hard work is the culture of the entire building, and I like that.”