GrowthLab Helps the Innovation Ecosystem Grow


noun: a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.

In nature, an ecosystem can be a forest, a tundra, a prairie, or even an urban neighborhood. When it comes to innovation, experience shows that a community of interacting organizations and diverse individuals leads to greater collective results. An innovation ecosystem refers to a location — a region, city, or concentration of activity within a city — where entrepreneurs, scientists, makers, investors, and service providers work in concert to accelerate each other’s development and impact. 

An innovation ecosystem supports the start of new companies and the growth of existing ones. In 2014, Steven Byler and Dan Gertrudes, cofounders of GrowthLab Financial, were both looking for a place to grow a business and the people to grow it with. They were looking for an ecosystem to grow within and to service.

“I was looking for a place to invest my time,” says Steven. “I met Dan, my business partner, at a networking event.”

“I was trying to figure out how to build a team around this concept of finance as a service,” says Dan. “I bumped into Steven and took him out for a couple of beers. The rest is history.”

The GrowthLab idea

GrowthLab provides accounting, finance, and corporate development strategy. Many small and medium-sized businesses focus on customer acquisition and product development. As they scale, they realize they need to start thinking strategically. They need long-range planning and to develop a compensation structure. GrowthLab brings rigor and cadence to that annual corporate business strategy cycle.

The company focuses on four challenges that small-to-medium-sized businesses face:

  • Understanding cash flow

  • Recognizing where the firm makes and loses money

  • Marketing for profit

  • Paying for performance

A history with CIC

Dan and Steven both have long histories with the CIC community. Dan began with a membership in the Cambridge Coworking Center, part of CIC Cambridge, in 2014. He commuted from his home in Providence a few days a week to meet with clients, build the business, and take advantage of the legendary whiteboards. 

Steven found CIC even earlier, when he was working with a different company.

“[CIC founder] Tim Rowe gave us a tour of CIC Cambridge and rented us our first office in 2008,” Steven recounts. “Now GrowthLab is one of the first occupants of CIC Providence. I’ve worked with quite a few companies within CIC.”

GrowthLab grows

As GrowthLab gained clientele and traction, the founders acquired an accounting business in Fall River. That increased the number of employees from two to 15 overnight. Today the firm employs 22 people. Steven and Dan moved the business to Providence about two years ago to grow the team.

“Our number one goal is to make sure the team grows,” says Steven, with a nod to the company’s moniker. “We want a team that’s growing both in number and in its members’ abilities, skills, and professional development. That’s what’s going to drive growth for us and great service for our customers.”

With their augmented staff and ever-expanding skillset, GrowthLab has the chops to take any or all of a company’s finance and accounting burden off their plates and deliver it to them, painlessly, each month. That enables founders Dan and Steven to focus on business development.

Fostering innovation

The firm provides finance, accounting, and bookkeeping services to companies ranging from brand new startups to emerging growth companies to turnarounds. When customers raise capital, GrowthLab helps with the strategy and planning. GrowthLab assembles the budget, updates their long-range plans, and then communicates that back to the stakeholders, investors, and team members. 

And, as clients have grown, so too has GrowthLab. Throughout this period of growth, the cofounders have continued to maintain their entrepreneurial attitude by taking risks and encouraging their employees to do the same.

“Innovation is trying new things and figuring out what works,” says Steven. “We want our staff to take the risks that will help them learn and grow.”

A stable ecosystem lasts


Both partners have crossed paths with CIC in different ways over the years. “I know what to expect when I walk into a CIC space,” says Steven. “I know it’ll be professional, comfortable, and full of familiar faces. Some of the people who worked on my first floor in Kendall Square are still around today, managing sites and strategy for CIC.”

“CIC is a connector in the entrepreneurship community,” he continues. “We were one of the early tenants at CIC Providence, and there is a buzz here. It’s a great location. The old Jewelry District is now the Knowledge District with new buildings, new construction, and new ideas.”

Room to grow


“CIC gives us short-term expansion space,” Steven says. “Our main office is a five-minute walk from CIC Providence, so I can get the team out of the office and into a different atmosphere. We do some of our best brainstorming here.”

But the month-to-month flexibility of coworking also means that GrowthLabs can pause their satellite office rental when there’s less need for it in their daily operations, knowing they can always rejoin CIC when the time is right. 

“Being in this community is so much more than having an office here,” says Dan, who regularly volunteers his time for office hours at Venture Café Providence, CIC’s nonprofit programming partner. “CIC is not just a bunch of people with their heads down. They’re interacting, sharing ideas, and connecting with people.”

Want to get involved with the CIC ecosystem? Check out our digital events calendar, or get in touch to explore workspace.

Banner photo courtesy of GrowthLabs

General Providence