Tricia Steele: Making it

Featured Entrepreneur: Tricia Steele

Note: Tricia Steele was the 2016 recipient of the Berry Alumni Association’s Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. The following profile was published in the Fall 2016 issue of Berry magazine.

When Tricia Steele (09C) was handed lemons, she made lemonade. 

The non-traditional student was putting herself through Berry when her full-time job was eliminated due to a struggling economy. Her response was to “make” her own firm, SAI Digital in Rome. She’s never looked back. 

SAI Digital since has grown to include software engineers in addition to Web-design and marketing professionals, evolving into a boutique technology firm providing Web application development services for enterprise, with special focus on health care, manufacturing and financial services. 

Steele is also heavily involved in the technology-based “maker culture,” speaking on the growing phenomenon to groups nationwide. She’s a founding member of 7hills Makerspace in Rome and founder of Makervillage, an initiative dedicated to nurturing creative and artisan businesses. In Makervillage’s first year alone, seven such businesses generated $2.7 million in revenue for the local economy and created 17 new jobs. 

In 2015, Steele was awarded one of only 20 national Small Business Administration Accelerator Grants of $50,000, which she used to incorporate Makervillage as a nonprofit, hire staff, establish a nine-week accelerator CO.STARTERS program, and broker a printed accessory deal between local fifth-graders and the world’s largest flooring company, with Berry creative technologies students serving as mentors.

She’s currently overseeing renovations on a 10,000 square-foot warehouse in downtown Rome that will serve as SAI Digital headquarters and as a co-workspace for creatives and startups. She also helped establish the NWGA Code School, which provides opportunities for junior programmers to learn how to tackle industry challenges.