By Phil Yacuboski
As the founder of Medtrics Lab, a tech startup based in Lewisburg, Chris Tokodi believes he’s helping in a small way to reshape and add to the state’s economy. The small, but growing company, which was born in a business incubator as part of Bucknell University, is learning software for medical education.
When Tokodi founded the company in 2013, medical education programs were undergoing tougher accreditation, and he saw a need to use technology within the medical learning environment that was specific for their use.
“They didn’t have the software because the stuff they were using was based on an old model where things weren’t as data intensive,” Tokodi, a graduate of The University of Scranton said. “Someone had to build something from scratch, so that’s what we did.”
Medtrics is part of a growing trend in Pennsylvania. According to data compiled by CompTIA, the Keystone State ranks eighth nationally when it comes to tech jobs. The analysis also found tech jobs contribute to 6.6 percent of the overall state economy.
“Pennsylvania’s tech job growth likely reflects growing demand from growing sectors within its economy such as healthcare, finance and insurance,” said Tim Herbert, senior vice president of research and market intelligence with CompTIA. About 72 percent of all tech jobs in Pennsylvania are in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Wages for tech workers are also higher than traditionally fields. The average private sector salary in Pennsylvania is $50,000, with tech sector jobs at $92,200.
Most of the tech jobs added in Pennsylvania since 2016 are software developers and applications.
Herbert expects the tech climate to change for the better in the next five years. He said we are still in the infancy of cloud computing and cybersecurity.
“As these technologies ramp up and mature, it is expected that there will be future job growth,” he said.
On the downside to this report, Pennsylvania finished in the middle when it comes to innovation. Virginia, New York and New Jersey ranked near the top.
While there are many factors related to job growth, Herbert thinks cities and regions can rebound and tech jobs can play a role, especially in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.
“The largest industries are healthcare, retail and manufacturing,” he said. “Technology will continue to reshape these industries in the years to come. Every sector of the economy relies on technology in some way.”
Tokodi’s pilot clients began in early 2014, and at the end of last year, they ended with almost a dozen. They currently are now at 25 clients nationwide, with more expected by the end of the year. Medtrics Lab hopes to end 2017 with around $400,000 in revenue.
“The big coup for us was that the National Institutes of Health began using our product,” he said. “That also makes us attractive to other clients.
Medtrics received financial help from the Ben Franklin Technology partners to get their company off the ground. The company has also taken advantage of the Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) tax credit program to help grow their business.
“It’s been very helpful,” said Tokodi, who added money used through the KIZ helped to fund several programs through the Small Business Development Center at Bucknell University to grow more tech jobs in the region. A similar program was also done through Bloomsburg University.
Tokodi said the future looks bright.
“Lewisburg has the school, but we’re not thought of as a tech hub, but that’s changing,” he said.
Tokodi said the alley behind his office on Market Street in Lewisburg is a running joke with other tech incubators in the same space.
“We call it ‘Silicon Alley,’” he said.
It’s a long way from California, but still packed with big dreams.