Venture Hunt Long Island

Venture Hunt LI was originally intended to methodically and efficiently connect serious investors with the best early stage business opportunities on Long Island.

At the same time that I was developing Venture Hunt Long Island, the NYC startup community was growing rapidly and becoming more open in both entrepreneur development and funding (co-working spaces, accelerators, skill development, pitch nights, etc.) which were are all just a train ride away. In addition, amazing startup resources and market places like Angel List made the location of your startup, less relevant for “access”.

Taking all this in, it was clear that Long Island didn’t need a local deal flow machine, because quite simply, most early stage ventures (regardless of location) haven’t earned a seat at the funding table (even some that get it). Whether it is because of not finding market fit, not enough traction, inexperienced founders or any other number of reasons that could tank a business regardless of the amount of money it raised. With that in mind, I transitioned Venture Hunt LI to be a collection of helpful notes for LI entrepreneurs to take their startup to the next level by leveraging resources unique to Long Island, nearby NYC and those that are location agnostic. All the posts have since moved to this blog after winding down VentureHuntLI.com.

There are still many organizations out there trying to foster a healthy startup community on Long Island (some good, some bad, but mostly ugly). Many of which seem to be failing under their own weight and complexity. Their funding comes from government, academic or other “sponsors” that have overt but mostly covert strings attached and usually end up just paying for staff that attend each others functions, events filled with service providers (who doesn’t need 10 patent attorneys?) and real estate (which is LI’s true economy) that end up as gilded tombs. I give points for trying, but not for the execution thus far. Maybe in a denser population of founders all this activity on its own could ignite something, but I’m not seeing sparks. I would even go a far as saying there are more people involved in running entrepreneur programs for Long Island then there are entrepreneurs with real startups on Long Island.

Recently (2014) my fellow startup friends and I decided to take a different approach based on the premise that all anyone really needs is a bit of guidance to get to the next level in their business (from idea to testing the market, from testing to traction with an MVP, from initial traction to funding and beyond).

To foster this, we took a strategy right out of Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City by Brad Feld and created Started On LI which is a monthly meet up for Long Island founders to share war stories, get advice, introductions and of course a few drinks in the process.

To “make it” on Long Island or anywhere else for that matter you need tenacity AND coach-ability. If you’re looking for similar founders come on down and the first drink is on me 🙂

My friends and I have a few other things in the works for the LI startup community, but unlike everyone else, we prefer to have substance before a press release, so I’ll keep you posted when the time is right.

 

Pinstripes & Sandals

Pinstripes & Sandals was a personal finance blog started in 2011.  The name itself  is credited to a close friend of mine. He was always dressed to the 9s in a 3 piece suit working for one of the big banks while I was going solo as a technology advisor and I was able to spend many a day in sandals.

The real joke was however, that we both envied the other. I wanted his paycheck and he wanted my freedom. What we looked forward to with Pinstripes and Sandals was unearthing both the basics and nuances of financial wealth accumulation. As I began to wade into the deep end of personal finance, it became clear another personal finance blog was not the answer. Why? Because after reading book after book and cross referencing author recommendations, all the core financial concepts, products and the needed mindset to get someone from 0 (or below) to say $1 million in the bank before retirement were already available to anyone, just not all in one place.

Like the health and fitness  industry, financial services benefits by maintaining a level of complexity and fear of picking the wrong horse, the layman never goes far before handing over their accounts to a “professional”. This is not a dig at all the players, just most of them. Below are the resources that got me from 20k+ in debt to a solid net networth and steady path to an early retirement.

Step 1: In Debt > Zero Debt + Small Emergency Fund

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey (Hardcover, Kindle, Audible)

The Dave Ramsey Show: By Dave Ramsey (iTunes)

My Total Money Makeover (Website)

Mint.com (Website)

Step 2: Out of Debt + Small Emergency Fund > Full Emergency Fund, IRA, 401K

I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi (Paperback, Kindle, Audible)

Personal Capital (Website)

Step 3: Full Emergency Fund, IRA, 401K > Maximizing returns for an early end game

MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins (HardcoverKindleAudible)

Seeking Alpha (Website)

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

Series Seed: How Open Source Does Term Sheets

Series Seed Term Sheet

Typically professional investors submit the Term Sheet and associated documents to the entrepreneur. These documents are already preconfigured to the investor’s or investment institution’s preferred terms and the negotiation begins.

That’s the sexy version of getting your first cash infusion, however many times your first investment is from friends and family. In these cases, both parties are equally green on the key documents needed to make a straightforward and legitimate investment in your company.

Series Seed was created and curated by Ted Wang, a partner at Fenwick & West in the interest of saving both time and money for startup during their most vulnerable stage for financing. In addition these documents are being continuously honed by the investment and startup communities to keep them current and equal handed.

This is still no substitute for legal review, which should only amount to a few billable hours if you are staying within the confines of the documents. 

Get the lasted documents at SeriesSeed.com

 

Accelerate Long Island

Accelerate Long Island Logo

Accelerate Long Island’s mission is to foster a unique collaboration among Long Island’s world class research institutions and its business community to commercialize research and create an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

I’ve had the pleasure to attend both Accelerate LI events as well as spend some time with Mark and his team and their actions speak louder than my praise could. In a short amount of (for Long Island) time, they have connected with the Lords of all the local fiefdoms and is actively fostering not just communication but a sense of common purpose.

Aside from the less tangible progress, Accelerate LI has architected 3 core programs to further move the needle for entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists and those looking to support their growth here on the island.

Accelerate Funding

Accelerate Long Island has a $500,000 Seed Fund that invests up to $50,000 in early stage high technology startup companies in the form of grants. The Accelerate Long Island Seed Fund co-invests with the $750,000 Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund (LIETF), which was created by three venture capitalists and typically invests up to $50,000 in early stage startups.

Accelerate Funding is also working closely with the Long Island Angel Network and other early stage funding sources to provide one-stop-shopping for startups companies seeking capital. 

Accelerate Assist

Accelerate Assist is a free mentorship program for early stage high-tech startup companies. 

Accelerate Assist kicks off with a brainstorming session with a team of entrepreneurs-in-residence. The startup company is then paired with an entrepreneur-in-residence and develops a set of milestones for the  over a three to sixth month period. Completion of the Accelerate Assist program may result in an opportunity to pitch to the Accelerate Long Island Seed Fund or connections with other early stage funding sources.

Typical coaching topics include:

  • Developing or refining the market for the technology.
  • Determining the pain in the market and determining the best economic model for the company.
  • Navigating intellectual property issues.
  • Polishing the pitch for funding.
  • Assistance with company formation and management.

Accelerate Ecosystem

Long Island’s startup scene is blossoming – and Accelerate Long Island is supporting entrepreneurs and building’s Long Island entrepreneurial ecosystem. Accelerate Long Island’s networking and instructional events are part of the ecosystem. (editor’s note – this the collection of events Accelerate hosts for various groups that make up the Long Island startup ecosystem)

LaunchPad Long Island Accelerator Officially Blasts Off

Lauch Pad Long IslandThe countdown for accepting applications for LaunchPad LI’s Summer 2013 Accelerator Program has begun. Applications are now being accepted thru May 17, 2013. We will review and select applicants to come in for interviews on a rolling basis. We will notify all accepted applicants by the end of May. The Summer 2013 Class will begin on June 3rd and launch with a Summer Blast Off Party!

What you will get out of the LaunchPad Accelerator Program:

  • Mentorship 
  • Seed funding
  • Free office space
  • Exposure and Access to investors
  • Legal, Financial, Business Development, Marketing & Sales Support
  • Fun Experiences & Lifelong Lessons

The Long Island Angel Network

Long Island Angel Network

The Long Island Angel Network is the most well known forum of angel investors on Long Island. Members can evaluate andexchange information about investment opportunities, primarily in technology- and innovation-focused early-stage and emerging growth companies in the $500,000 – $2 million range.

LI Angel Network screeners endeavors to select companies for presentation that they judge likely to be of the greatest interest to members, but the Network does not make investment recommendations; investors’ decisions are made individually. 

If you are an entrepreneur interested in presenting to the LIAN you can submit your application (via gust.com)and if they feel you are a fit you will be selected to pitch at their frequent “pitch nights”. You can also just attend pitch nights so what they are all about and better understand the caliber of firms you are competing with for the angels attention.

 

Explore CrunchBase or your network visually with Wikisway

WikiswayAs discussed before, CrunchBase is one of the top tools for garnering insight on your startup competition as well as who is funding them. Wikisway has taken advantage of CruchBase’s API to visually map the relationships that make up their database.

Aside from the data eye candy, Wikisway gives you real insight into what “Connectors” and “Mavens” ala Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point you should be jacked in to. Here is an example of TechStars on Wikisway.

wikiswaytechstars

Wikisway has also worked their visual magic for your personal Facebook network and is setting their sites on LinkedIn next.

In summary, Wikisway is a great tool in unearthing fruitful relationships and it looks like it will keep getting better. 

 

Suffolk IDA’s “Start-Up Connect” Event

Start-Up Connect an IDA EventJoin the Suffolk County IDA at their “Start-Up Connect” event on April 10 from 6pm to 8pm at the Paramount in Huntington Village.

You can RSVP at http://www.suffolkida.org/event-sign-up.

Start-ups will be able to “Connect to Capital, Connect to IDA Companies and Connect to Government”.

Our April 10 lineup includes County Executive Steve Bellone, Deputy County Executive for Economic Development Joanne Minieri, IDA Executive Director Anthony Manetta, Huntington Supervisor Frank PetroneMark Lesko from Accelerate Long Island, Venture Capitalist Investors David CaloneAndrew HazenMark Fasciano, the SBA’s regional director Walter Oden and a host of groups including the Long Island Angels, LISTnet, COMETS, Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and Long Island Forum for Technology (LIFT).

Also meet local tech companies in Huntington that are part of the iDA’s Boost Program including Jeff Leventhal from Work Market, Ryan Thompson from CooCoo and George Kafkarkou from VLI North America.

The first hour is open to venture capitalists, IDA clients and start-ups formed in the last 5 years in Technology, Bio/Life Science, Energy, Green, Product Development and High Tech Manufacturing. The second hour starting at 7pm is open to the general business community. There is no charge to attend this event.

Coming by rail? Bolt Bus is having a free shuttle from Huntington train station for a 5:40pm pick up to the Paramount. Let us know if you plan to use the free shuttle.

Creative background noise with Coffitivity

CoffitivityFor those working too hard or too late to make it to your local coffee shop, Coffitivity may be just the trick to keep the creative juices flowing. 

Coffitivity.com is a virtual environment provider centered around a recent academic study that determined different spaces have specific properties to improve and enhance creative cognition. Theses great creative work environments typically have a volume of about 70 decibels of constant ambient sound. The best example of such a place: a coffee shop.

Thanks to Lisa Harris at Lisa Harris Pantry for sending this my way.

Long Island Angel Network Presentation Night

Long Island Angel NetworkIf you’re looking at presenting your venture to the Long Island Angel Network don’t miss their Presentation Night this Wednesday, March 20, 2013 from 5:30 PM to 

Attending this event will give you insight into the Long Island Angels without the pressure of presenting blind. ONLY PRESELECTED firms are presenting. Apply here to present at future events.