came into being in 2009 during the economic downturn, a time when businesses were looking to resolve issues to survive, says Denise DeSimone, founder and CEO.
A seasoned entrepreneur, DeSimone had had successes. She had helped to build Unicorp., a speech recognition tech company, from the ground up as CEO; within two years it reached a global market with revenues exceeding $74 million. She was also the CEO of Advanticom.
She received a regional Ernest & Young 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year and was on Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business for 2009. She wanted her eighth company to give back in some way, a sort of entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs.
The company started out by offering financial consulting tools and executives as a service to high-end companies that couldn’t afford to hire a CFO. For example, when Oakland Raiders’ Shawntae Spencer, a Woodland Hills High School grad, suggested an idea for a personal concierge app, c-leveled helped to develop and launch MetroMe, a one-stop shop for concert tickets, dinner reservations and more.
“It became really apparent that we needed not only a space where we could be more efficient, but one that would foster collaboration and creative thought,” says DeSimone.
This month the firm, which employs 16, opened a private incubator for startups in its Bloomfield office, a space that offers a wide range of services to both budding and established entrepreneurs, from business strategy to brand designs, logos and social media consulting.
It's a launch pad for serious entrepreneurs who have at least two companies under their belt, she says.
“We’re not just assisting with ideas, but doing the work. We’re writing the business plans. Telling someone they need a pricing strategy to someone who has never done it before is like telling them to write ‘War and Peace,’” she says.
C-level also has a $1 million seed fund to get companies off the ground.
“It has to be a great idea, a good market and a good entrepreneur,” she says. “There’s a lot of entrepreneurial spirit here, a lot of great ideas coming out of Pittsburgh from people of all ages,” she adds. “If we could figure out how to make it all work together more efficiently, we could do something really cool.”
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Denise DeSimone, c-leveled