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Check Out Xander Winkel’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Xander Winkel.

Hi Xander, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I’m currently the Executive Director of the Independence Regional Ennovation Center business incubator. I started with the organization as a volunteer back in 2012. I happened to be in the building, saw the incubator space, and really liked what the program was doing. I decided to talk with the director at the time and asked if I could volunteer with the organization. I was hired that same year in 2012, and fast forward a few years and now I’m in charge of the organization. I’ve worked with thousands of startup businesses over that time and collaborated with dozens of other startup organizations on different initiatives to help folks successfully launch their business.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Has it been a smooth road? Oh my, no. You hear entrepreneurship compared to a rollercoaster ride, and for the Ennovation Center the metaphor certainly applies. One aspect of my job that I love is also one of the most challenging. Entrepreneurs are a unique group of humans who are passionate, and driven, and creative, and overall always interesting people. But they will often self-admit that they can be headstrong, uncompromising, and maybe a tad egotistic at times. I mean, if you’re gonna take the risk, and take the initiative to launch your own company, you’ve got to have mentality, fire, and strength for the startup lifestyle.

Also, working with a small non-profit organization is challenging. You’ve got to think creatively on how you do all the things that need to be done with not enough people and not enough money. So we need to think: What other organizations can we partner with? How can we automate certain tasks? How do we strategically allocate a small budget to have the greatest impact on our mission? And although challenging, some of the problem-solving is part of the fun of working for a small organization.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
As the Executive Director at the Ennovation Center, my daily focus is on three main areas.

1) Making sure the organization is meeting its goal of helping folks start and grow their businesses.

2) Working one-on-one helping those folks with their business idea and helping them grow their business.

3) Maintaining the shared incubator facility including our shared kitchens, offices, and manufacturing spaces.

Items 2 and 3 are pretty straightforward, but the first item is where I’m able to be creative. As a small organization, I make sure to partner with other groups to be able to extend our reach and our ability to help our clients. So one thing I’m very proud of is our ability to collaborate and put on events, or classes, programs that have great reach and provide massive assistance to our businesses.

I’m also very proud of our reputation as a place to get help with your business. About half the folks that connect with us say that someone in the community told them that they “absolutely had talk with the folks at the Ennovation Center” if they were getting started up with their business.

We also get calls from across the country from other startup incubator spaces, particularly about the shared kitchens. And they are looking to us as an example of a well-established and successful program to emulate.

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Something that has been on my mind coming out of this past year is how many incredible successes and success stories I’ve experienced personally and seen from our clients that have come out of incredibly difficult situations. I’ve seen folks losing jobs or loved ones, and it inspires them to take action and start their own business. Or businesses that completely fail only for the owner to come across another opportunity in which they are wildly successful.

And last year at this time, we were all worried about how we were going to make it, and right now the incubator is insanely busy trying to figure out how we can help more businesses than we have at any time in our 11 years history.


  • Kitchen Rental starts at $170 a month
  • Office Rental starts at $150 a month
  • Manufacturing Spaces start at $500 a month
  • Office Suites start at $500 a month

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1 Comment

  1. Winnie Bryan

    August 30, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    I worked with Xander several years ago and am very happy to see how successful he has become.

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