The Hill: 5 students and entrepreneurs living in the Capital Region’s First Ever “Hacker House.”
Five programmers, designers, and hustlers are living together in Tech Valley’s first ever Silicon Valley-esque hacker house called “The Hill”, located in Saratoga Springs across the street from the famous Mary Lou Whitney Estate on Geyser Rd.
The concept of living, working, and playing together as a team is a trend out west, and helped to kick-start several multi-billion dollar companies like Facebook. The Capital Region has developed a reputation as the next hotbed of innovative tech companies — their goal is to copy this model and #provetechvalley.
Their company is called Ant Hill, and their mission is to revolutionize the way small city economies grow by offering greater transparency into work opportunities in these areas, starting in the Capital Region. Connecting students with work at local businesses, both parties will have the chance to work, build, and grow regardless of socio-economic status, company size, college degree or family connections. While many people are forced to leave the area in search of good jobs, the team is determined to prove that young talent can thrive and flourish in upstate NY whether they are working at a start up, a business, or starting their own company. For the Anthillers, they have chosen to start a company and in turn help others #worklocal at any of the excellent businesses in the area. They want to prove that this area is worthy of the “Tech Valley” name.
The Anthillers are no strangers to the Capital Region. Marcella Jewell (21), a Skidmore ’14 grad, and the founder and CEO of Ant Hill has a growing reputation in the community. After placing third in the New York State business plan competition it was clear to see she was determined to make a difference. After graduating early from Skidmore, Marcella spent time working at a hedge fund. It did not take long for her to realize her passion was Ant Hill. She quit her six figure job and returned to Saratoga in order to continue her work doing something she loves to help others realize the lucrative work opportunities that exist in the Capital Region and in other small cities in America.
The rest of the team, who Marcella refers to as “the guys”, is composed of Matt Barth (Skidmore ‘15), Ethan Glass (SUNY Albany ‘16), Shane Boland (Tech Valley High ‘13), and Hunter Fortuin (Tech Valley High ‘13).
Hunter Fortuin, Ant Hill’s first employee, connected with Marcella in Las Vegas at a conference for young, successful entrepreneurs called the Thiel Foundation. They didn’t know each other before, but then jumped right into building Ant Hill. Together, meeting weekly at the Daily Grind in Troy, they overloaded on coffee and built an MVP. Hunter, an extremely competent programmer is arguably the youngest pro Ruby developer in the area. Often times, he stays up all night watching Rails Casts and learning Objective C to keep up with Matt’s Swift skills.
Matt Barth, Shane Boland, and Ethan Glass all joined the team shortly thereafter. As the team grew from one to five people, Marcella’s dream was becoming reality.
Since then, they were featured in the Albany Business Review, winners in the AT&T Civic App Challenge, presented at 1MillionCups Albany, and have been invited to participate at some of the top events in the area like Start Up Tech Valley and Hudson Valley Tech Meet Up. Marcella will be speaking on a panel in October at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, which is the largest and highest profiled conference of women in STEM. The conference has attracted speakers such as Sheryl Sandberg, Megan Smith, and Satya Nadella.
Phil Lodico (Founder of Fairwinds Partners in Saratoga), the company’s COO aka “dad” as Shane refers to him, is the grounding force for the group. Phil mentored Marcella for about a year as she began Ant Hill, and with his past experiences of starting and developing companies, he is able to offer valuable advice on the steps to take. He also made the very first angel investment in the company.
The Anthillers have recently moved in their new place of residence, 41 Geyser Rd, Saratoga Springs. A white farmhouse that used to house Serotta bicycles, has become their new headquarters. The house is full of vintage Remington desks, modern black leather chairs, and Buddha sculptures (at Marcella’s request) to maintain some level of zen.
The Anthillers invite the entire community along this journey, and are having Hang Outs @ The Hill every Tuesday at from 7pm to 9pm at 41 Geyser Road.
Growing together and building a start up with the dream of turning into a successful company overnight is extremely common out west, but not many people believe it can happen in upstate New York. The Anthillers are taking a risk and want to prove that it can happen in the area.
Ant Hill already has hundreds of users and is growing everyday, becoming the number one place to #hirelocal and #worklocal. They are currently raising a seed round to take them through the rest of the year.
Following in the footsteps of successful local startups like Ecovative, Apprenda, and CommerceHub, the Anthillers want to prove that a bunch of passionate, talented kids can stay in the area and live the Tech Valley dream.
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