As a growing business, Vara Safety’s progress was accelerated through the key support of the regional organizations in Upstate New York including the Center for Economic Growth, FuzeHub, Workforce Development Initiative, and Upstate Venture Connect.
CEG and Fuzehub engaged Vara in several areas. In 2018, Vara received venture pitch coaching through the Center for Economic Growth's VentureB series. Since 2002 CEG has engaged with over 250 companies in this program in collaboration with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where Oh was a student. Fuzehub engaged Vara in a solutions forum, which allowed for immediate interactions with resources such as suppliers, service providers and other state-funded programs. One particular connection was with the Workforce Development Institute (WDI), which awarded Vara a $15,000 grant for the purchase of a three-axis CNC mill that would be used for product development and early production.
CEG and VARA were also awarded a $50,000 FuzeHub manufacturing grant from the Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund, which was awarded to the Vara. The startup used that funding to quickly iterate to their MVP, employ design for manufacturing and assembly techniques, and workout critical manufacturing processes. On Aug. 31, 2019, Vara Safety began shipping the Reach units to more than 400 pre-order customers. The units are being sold directly via Vara Safety’s website and on Optics