The U-Tech Incubator

The three-story space is home to 92 small businesses, which range from software developers and charter schools to acupuncture clinics and activist headquarters.

Jong Woutat works on glueing cracks in a violin Tuesday in the Violin Making, Restoration and Repair office located in the University Technology Center. Along with violins, the repair office also works with cellos and violas and has been operating out of the Center for over a year.

Jong Woutat works on glueing cracks in a violin Tuesday in the Violin Making, Restoration and Repair office located in the University Technology Center. Along with violins, the repair office also works with cellos and violas and has been operating out of the Center for over a year.

Jennifer Bissell

DinkytownâÄôs U-Tech building, formally known as the University Technology Center, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year as a small business incubator.
The three-story space is home to 92 small businesses, which range from software developers and charter schools to acupuncture clinics and activist headquarters.
âÄúI love it,âÄù owner David Jasper said. âÄúIâÄôm 73 years old and IâÄôd hate to retire âĦ IâÄôve started several small businesses and I know how much fun that is. So I like being around others doing the same thing.âÄù
Formally a high school, the small business utopia is a drastic change for the space.
From 1924 to 1983, children from around the area attended the school, but eventually it closed due to low enrollment rates.
Now, however, entrepreneurs thrive in the space.

Violin repairmen

Frederik Bethke  was pursuing a degree in instrument repair at a Red Wing technical school when he first learned how to repair violins.
He liked working with the violin and when he saw a job opening at a violin repair shop in the U-Tech building several years ago, he jumped on the opportunity.
âÄúI love the work,âÄù Bethke said. âÄúI enjoy working with wood and tools and problem solving, particularly when it comes to restoration work.âÄù
Bethke spent 12 years working in the shop until it closed a few years ago. Eventually, he and a past co-worker opened their own space in the U-Tech building in 2009 to repair, restore and make violins.
Bethke said he chose the location because it was within walking distance from his home, near the UniversityâÄôs music school and served the previous repair shop well.
âÄúLocation can be important, but for violin shops âÄî if youâÄôre good at what you do and people trust you âÄî people will follow you,âÄù Bethke said.

Dinkytown Family Chiropractic

For 17 out of her 20 years in business, Barbara Fagan  has run her chiropractic clinic out of the U-Tech building.
Office manager Ann Beddow  said the center has enjoyed the good building management and community it brings, but had originally expected more business from the other business people in the building.
âÄúWe use each other for referrals, camaraderie, but I wouldnâÄôt say we know a lot of people [in the building].âÄù
Without signage on the outside of the building, the clinic has struggled to bring in new customers, but Fagan said the business still does well through word-of-mouth referrals and web searches.
The business sees 50 to 70 customers a week. Even if the group were to expand, Fagan said she wouldnâÄôt want to leave the location.
âÄúItâÄôs just a fun group of people around here, from locals to three-piece-suits from the University,âÄù Fagan said.

Computer Mega Mall

With more than 17 years away, University of Minnesota alumnus Syed Mia  said heâÄôs glad to be back on campus.
HeâÄôs moved his computer repair business to Bloomington, Edina and northeast Minneapolis, but now Mia said he thinks he has finally found a good location for his business.
âÄúIt was a breath of fresh air because this is the college that I graduated from,âÄù Mia said.
MiaâÄôs company hit a rough patch during the early 2000âÄôs with increased competition, but since moving to Dinkytown, heâÄôs seen business grow significantly.
Originally he moved to the building in 2007, making $200,000 a year in revenue, but this year Mia said heâÄôs on track to break $1 million in sales.
Despite his growth, Mia said he doesnâÄôt plan to leave his location. Instead, heâÄôs looking to expand into the empty office space next door or start a second location outside of campus.
âÄúI feel like I can serve the students better and restart my companyâÄôs brighter future [here],âÄù Mia said.