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Old 06-02-2022, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by ckhthankgod View Post
AI startup Intelligent Medicine partners with Siemens: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...te-health.html
Why this startup mentor founded a new pre-seed investment fund: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...vel-ready.html

From the article: "There’s a new fund and program based at UAlbany meant to help early startups become more attractive to potential investors.

The program by Innovate 518 can provide non-dilutive pre-seed funding up to $50,000. To start, the pilot program has a total of $150,000 to invest.

​​Innovate 518 is a state-funded program that connects 24 member organizations focused on fostering entrepreneurial efforts.

The Shovel Ready program is being led by Heidi Knoblauch, who started last year as one of the entrepreneurs-in-residence for ​​Innovate 518. Based on what she’s heard from investors, entrepreneurs and others over the last several months, Knoblauch thinks this type of program will be a big help to the local startup ecosystem.

“A number of the angel investors that I regularly speak to in the area keep saying that there's no deal flow, and a number of the entrepreneurs keep saying that there's no access to capital,” Knoblauch said.

The program will basically work to move these startups further along in the development process so that investors feel more confident in investing, she said.

“The problem is that people feel there's no deal flow because companies are too risky right now, so I had to think up a way to de-risk them,” Knoblauch said. “Companies aren't getting their first shot here to do a project that would allow for investment in the way that they would in larger metros, and so we just have to spend a little bit of money from our state-funded programs to allow for this private investment, which I feel confident will follow long after these de-risking projects are done.”

Something else she said holds up deals is disagreement about details like valuation. That can lead investors to spending $25,000 or $50,000 in legal fees although they’re writing checks of only $250,000

Startups that receive the Shovel Ready funding must agree to certain terms, such as valuation, and outline a project that can be completed in up to six months, like creating a prototype. Once the program is completed, startups will be introduced to private investors who will have the option to invest based on the initially agreed upon terms.

As part of the program, startups will complete several training and mentorship requirements, including a regional NSF I-Corps Program at UAlbany.

Applying companies must be legally formed entities and a member of one of several incubator programs: Biomedical Acceleration and Commercialization Center, University at Albany Innovation Center, Tech Valley Center of Gravity in Troy, S.T.E.A.M. Garden in Albany or NY-BEST.

The startups will be selected and monitored by the Innovate 518 advisory committee: Nasir Ali, Alan Evans, John Pietrangelo, Joe Richardson, Matthew Wagoner, Peter Gonczlick and Todd Tidgewell."
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Old 06-06-2022, 12:43 PM
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Aptihealth and Nfrastructure veteran sees huge potential in his AI startup: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...-analysis.html

From the article: "A startup software veteran from Aptihealth and Nfrastructure says he is pioneering a new AI technology with huge potential.

The early technology being developed by Helios Life Enterprises can analyze and derive meaning from tonal shifts in speech, said Sean Austin, founder of the Saratoga Springs startup.

It is basically in the business of acquiring and organizing huge amounts of audio-based data using its proprietary software platform, then selling that data to companies. That area of data sales – called alternative data – was valued at $2.7 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $143 billion by 2030.

Austin compared his vision of his startup’s growth to that of Spain-based RavenPack, which started in 2003 with AI analysis of text. The company established itself by utilizing the tech for the financial services industry, he said, and then moved on to other areas.

“We think there’s, in the financial services space alone, the same sort of trajectory,” Austin said. “We are the only ones, still, doing it. We're pushing the envelope of what's possible.”

The audio software – in conjunction with existing text and body language AI software – will give companies the ability to analyze every part of speech. Vocal tone accounts for about 40% of the way humans communicate, he said.

“We're trying to be a complementary piece of this field that exists – you want to understand this conversation, you're going to have to understand the words that are said … but if you don't have the tone, too, you're also essentially missing another piece of it,” Austin said.

In the case of the financial services industry, he says the tech can be used to measure the confidence portrayed by CEOs during investor calls. The startup is working with major hedge fund clients as product customers right now, he said.

“We see that as the tip of the iceberg,” Austin said.

The software now listens to every earnings call of all 4,400 U.S. public companies, he said. It has analyzed millions of hours of audio at this point.

The tech can be customized to focus on specific tonal aspects based on what a customer is interested in targeting, Austin said. A marketing firm could use one aspect of the data to better understand consumer interest in a movie. A salesperson could use it to gauge customer interest in a product. A law enforcement agency could utilize another aspect of the data as a type of lie detector.

Helios is currently working with a couple of movie research firms on a product the industry could use.

As the tech is developed, Austin says all the video and audio online – billions of hours created each day – is up for analysis by the software.

“The more data you have, the better it's going to get.”

The startup is working with Oslo-based Exabel to create a user-friendly interface for the platform so the data can be used by a wider customer base. Austin expects the startup to release that product to select customers later this month.

“We think it's going to be a major revenue generator," he said.

Austin graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2011. He was first introduced to the field of audio as marketing director for Tunigo, which was acquired by Spotify in 2013.

He joined Aptihealth in May 2020 – a recruit by then newly hired CEO Dan Pickett – to lead the design of the startup’s behavioral health telemedicine platform. He’d previously worked with Pickett at Zones and Nfrastructure.

Austin is currently transitioning out of his role at Aptihealth to focus on Helios full time.

The Helios co-founder and chief scientific officer is Gerwin Schalk, who has a Ph.D. in computer and systems engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has spent 13 years as an associate professor of neurology at Albany Med and spent more than 20 years as a research scientist at the state's Wadsworth Center.

Austin said that Schalk's neuroscience background contributes to the basis of understanding a speaker's intent behind tonal shifts.

"Between his own research, review of the vast world around linguistics and ultimately our own three-year endeavor into the analysis, we have created a platform that we know works," he stated in a text message. "Hedge funds wouldn't test this for nine months and move to contract without it being truly valuable."

Helios has raised $750,000 in angel investment and just launched a crowd-funded capital campaign for $250,000 on the startup platform Republic.com. Investors can pledge a minimum of $100 for shares in the company, based on a $10 million valuation cap.

The plan is to seek $3.5 million in venture capital starting this summer, which would allow the startup to scale and hire employees.

The advisory board includes people from other AI companies and Wall Street. It also includes Donald Buckley, former chief marketing officer for Showtime Networks, and former NBA all-star Baron Davis. Darrin Jahnel of Jahnel Group is also part of the advisory board and is an early investor in the company, Austin said.

Austin said Helios is determining exactly which industry to target after financial services, but whichever it is, he believes it could be the beginning of something great.

“Just like streaming. When I saw that eight years ago, streaming was a fraction of the market. Now it's the majority of the market and, basically, has taken over.”
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Old 06-08-2022, 08:34 AM
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Electric jet engine startup backed by Y Combinator sets up HQ in Malta: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...ny-region.html

From the article: "Wright Electric, a startup that’s developing electric engines for commercial jets, is establishing a physical headquarters in the Capital Region.

The startup is now in the process of outfitting a 6,000-square-foot space inside a larger building in the Saratoga Technology + Energy Park (STEP) in Malta, according to Jeff Engler, founder and CEO of the company. The space has been designed to accommodate high power and high voltage for testing motors and motor controllers.

Wright Electric was founded in Boston in 2016. Then it moved to San Francisco, Los Angeles and then came to the Capital Region about two years ago.

“​​There's a ton of talent in Albany, all focused on very specialized motors and motor controllers – and in the aviation industry, specifically,” Engler said. “There's a really good talent pool there, and some of our early engineers on our team had come from the Albany area, so we thought the best thing to do would be to build a team around them.”

Wright has 15 people full time and 10 part time, and is hiring for several technical roles, particularly in power electronics. The group of employees includes several GE veterans, many of them in the Capital Region.

Patrick Biel, formerly of Tokyo Electron and GE Global Research, is director of power electronics, according to LinkedIn. The director of operations is Elizabeth Wallace, who recently moved to the Capital Region after 24 years in Washington, D.C., after holding leadership roles at KGO Project Management and the National Wildlife Federation.

The startup is focused on commercial plans with 100 seats that travel on flights of about one hour. Planes of that size and larger account for 95-98% of carbon emissions in the industry, he said.

“There's a lot of people working on smaller airplanes. We felt that if we were going to try to make a difference in the space, we had to focus on larger airplanes," Engler said.

Engler previously co-founded Massachusetts-based medical device startup Podimetrics, which has raised $75 million to date, including $45 million in a series C round earlier this year. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University.

He said he started Wright as a way to help mitigate the large carbon footprint that comes from commercial aviation.

“To give you a sense of scale, you would have to eat vegetarian for over a year to offset the carbon from even a single round trip flight from New York to Chicago,” Engler said. “If you think about all the things that we do to make a difference – a single flight probably counteracts many of those things."

The majority of aircraft fuel savings come from more efficient engines, he said.

Wright's electric engines will go inside the four-engine BAe 146 aircraft, to be branded as Wright Spirit. The plan is to have the Wright-outfitted plane on the market by around 2026-27. There will be flight tests using one, two and four electric engines in 2023, 2024 and 2025, respectively.

The Wright aviation engine is about 10 times more powerful than the electric engine inside a Tesla, Engler said, and has specializations like being very lightweight and highly efficient. And the design is meant to create a much quieter product, he said.

“We developed our own, from scratch, motor and motor controller, that's one of the most powerful and power dense in the world."

The startup is now testing its first prototype at an undisclosed temporary external location. The plan is to move that testing into the new Saratoga County facility later this year.

Engler said the Wright Electric is developing the product with support from a number of airlines around the world, including EasyJet in Europe and Viva Aerobus in Latin America. Alongside partners including Honeywell and EaglePitcher, Wright is still determining which of multiple energy sources will power the engines.

“When we think about competition, we generally think about the status quo," Engler said. "The easiest thing for an airline to do is just to use their existing airplanes. The opportunity here is to reduce dramatically the global warming impact of aviation, and also the noise impact of aviation.”

The startup doesn’t disclose total fundraising amounts, but it has raised about $10 million from government grants and contracts through agencies such as NASA, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Department of Energy ARPA-E. The startup has also received a contract form the U.S. Air Force to turn the motor into an ultra lightweight generator.

Other funding has come from the Y Combinator startup accelerator, the Clean Energy Trust, venture funds and family offices.

The Y Combinator accelerator has helped launch more than 3,000 companies since 2005, including Stripe, Airbnb, DoorDash, Coinbase, Instacart, Dropbox, Twitch and Reddit, according to its website.

“We're fully funded for our existing operations,” Engler said."
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Old 06-15-2022, 12:24 PM
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Plan for Green Island EV campus includes three buildings and a wind turbine: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...-vehicles.html
From the article: "The initial plans have been drawn up for the potential future home of an electric vehicle manufacturer in Green Island.

The tentative plan for Green Island EV includes three major construction projects, according to John Gillie, founder and CEO of the early-stage startup.

The plan is that Green Island EV will make electric microtransit vehicles – like school buses and shuttle buses – for public transportation. He estimates that the company will create 200 high-paying jobs.

Green Island EV is looking at roughly 17 acres of the 50-acre site bordered by Tibbits Avenue and Cannon Street, formerly home to a Ford factory and adjacent to the village’s hydroelectric facility on the Hudson River.

The plans include a 150,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, designed in a way that allows expansion as the company grows, Gillie said.

The 10,000-square-foot “campus center” building would include an open office, board room, product showcase and an educational area.

And behind the center building would be a parking structure covered with solar panels.

Latham-based Cotler Architecture drew the initial designs for the campus. (View a site rendering online.)

There are plans for green space on the site and a wind turbine. There would also be EV chargers for personal vehicles, and Gillie plans to encourage employees to drive EVs to work by offering free charging.

Gillie, a Cohoes native and former strategist for bus maker Lion Electric (NYSE: LEV), has previously said he wants to build a "showcase of the Northeast."

“We're moving to more of a 100% sustainable campus environment. Yes, we are focused on making money; yes, we're focused on building high-quality EVs … but also, we understand there's a huge need to educate the market on sustainability and EV. We want this campus to be a destination,” Gillie said.

Robert Gurman, the company's chief financial officer, has a long infrastructure and clean energy career that includes working as senior consultant for NYSERDA and New York Green Bank. He says he’s been involved in financing hydroelectric plants since before the term “renewables” was coined.

“In addition to all of the fundamental positive factors of the Green Island EV product and our business, these additional components of clean energy as inputs are very important to me,” said Gurman, a Union College grad. “We have a lot of work to do to cobble together all of these very important pieces, but we're starting with a really fundamentally sound concept.”

Catherine Hover is expanding Palette coworking – but without the cafes: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...expansion.html
From the article: "Catherine Hover started the Palette enterprise unsure exactly how it would evolve.

It started as a cafe and upstairs coworking space at 493 Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs in 2019, then grew into a second operation in downtown Schenectady.

Those spaces were what helped Hover discover her knack for community building and collaboration – “a roundabout way of finding my purpose,” she called it – and that is a passion she wants to focus on and continue growing.

That’s why she sold the cafe in Saratoga and closed the cafe portion of the Schenectady space. She plans to keep the 1,500-square-foot coworking space upstairs at the Saratoga location at least through the end of the lease in April 2023.

“Covid just allowed me to realize that I do not want to be in food service. I want to be in community development and helping women help more women advance socially and professionally,” Hover said.

Between staffing and supply chain issues, she said the cafe felt like its own business, and it was taking her away from where she really wanted to be.

“Covid made me realize we don't need to be doing this whole thing to be doing the community piece of it,” she said.

Because the first Saratoga space is “busting at the seams,” Palette is expanding into 3,000 square feet on the bottom floor of the historic Collamer Building at 480 Broadway – across the street from the first space. The main entrance will be on the east side of the building, behind the old Farmers Hardware building at 35 Maple Ave.

It’s the former space for Wellspring Saratoga, a nonprofit that serves domestic abuse and sexual assault survivors. The nonprofit relocated to a new 8,000-square-foot buildingon Route 9 in Malta in fall 2021.

The new Palette space will include a common seating area, four private offices, a studio space for recording video, a kitchenette and a conference room. Hover is repurposing much of the furniture from the cafe spaces in Saratoga and Schenectady in the new space. It’s expected that the build-out will be completed in July.

The Saratoga cafe was sold to Kelly Groff and reopened as Broadway Grind in May. Groff previously owned Kelly’s Kitchen in Wilton.

Hover and Marcella Hammer, the Palette chief operations officer, late last year bought out the company’s initial investors, Steve and Denise Gonick.

Palette now has nearly 400 members, and Hover is working to surpass that this year. She is reopening the ability to join as a founding member of the new space, which includes invites to headshot and ribbon cutting parties.

Hover described Palette as more than just a coworking space — which is partially why she thinks it’s gained so many members.

“A lot of coworking spaces – they lack the community engagement. They have people who come in and close their doors … but they're not engaging with anybody else within the community,” Hover said. “That's not the case at Palette because we really want to constantly make sure that our members are meeting each other and collaborating.”

What this Capital Region startup founder has learned at Amazon HQ: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...an-stokes.html
From the article: "It took five interviews with Amazon Web Services executives before Devvan Stokes got the news. The fifth call came on May 27, and he was on a plane to Seattle just over a week later.

That’s because his Capital Region software startup, GyvLink, had been selected as one of 25 U.S. startups in the first cohort for the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Impact Accelerator for Black Founders.

GyvLink's platform is meant to more easily connect nonprofits with individuals and corporations to ask for specific in-kind donations. The goal is that the platform gets donors to purchase items that are actually needed rather than wasting money on products that may go unused.

Stokes expressed surprise at the level of involvement AWS executives have had so far during the accelerator program.

“There's been some amazingly high level Amazon executives, like the global head of sales, global head of marketing, just hanging out to talk with us over drinks or something,” Stokes said during a call from Seattle.

The six-month program includes business and tech mentoring as well as meetings with Amazon leaders and teams. Startups will also receive a $125,000 non-dilutive grant and up to $100,000 in AWS Activate credits. AWS announced the $30 million accelerator program in April.

After the week in Seattle, the program takes place remotely for six weeks, and the final week is in New York City. AWS will fly a GyvLink partner from Germany to take part in the final week.

So far, Stokes said it’s been worth the time spent. The program has included venture capitalists and unicorn startups as guest speakers about pitch decks. Two of the speakers were the co-founders of Squire, a software management system for barbershops that was valued at $750 million last year.

“They gave us a complete breakdown of their whole process of building Squire,” Stokes said.

Now that he’s on the Amazon campus, his mentors there are telling him to seize the moment.

“We have been encouraged, while here, to make very audacious requests of Amazon,” he said. “They said make the big ask while you're here, so I'm certainly going to be doing things like that.”

One of those questions will be whether GyvLink could have access to excess stock at the local Amazon warehouse so it can be given to local organizations that could use it.

“Because we know who has needs,” he said. “If they can give us a feed of that, we can definitely tell them where it's needed.”

At this time last year, Stokes said he had some “super enthusiastic” interest from a well-known local chain of grocery stores after being connected through a consultant, but that didn’t pan out.

“Communications entirely stopped flat. I could not get a call back. I cannot figure out what happened with that.”

But he's working again to expand the network of nonprofits and corporate donors, and he expects it to go smoother this time. There are about 60 nonprofits using the platform right now.

Stokes has hired several contractors in the Northeast and Europe since last year. The team is currently working on releasing an updated version of the app. On top of in-kind donations, he is adding a capability for nonprofits to match with volunteers.

Stokes said he plans to try leveraging the connections he makes through the AWS program as he seeks fundraising of at least $500,000 soon.

“Taking some of the meetings that we'll have from this, we may have much better access to that, particularly because we're on the West Coast, and the check sizes are just so much bigger. And that threshold to impress an investor at a seed stage is so much less,” Stokes said. “In upstate New York, everyone is very frugal, the check sizes are quite small, and you have to prove so, so much before someone's willing to give you a little chance.”
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Old 06-23-2022, 02:14 PM
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Albany power chip startup creates revenue stream working with 'stalwart' companies: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...n-carbide.html
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Old 06-29-2022, 10:01 AM
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The pandemic devastated Passport for Good. Now the startup is targeting $1M in revenue: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...owth-plan.html

From the article: "Passport for Good was in crisis in March 2020.

The software startup’s founder, Gayle Farman, had just died. And shortly before the service was set for a public launch, the pandemic eliminated the need for it.

Passport For Good is a web-based platform meant to more easily keep a record of volunteer service hours and other community engagement, primarily for K-12 students. The software aggregates this data into a non-academic transcript students can then use for college and job applications.

Without in-person meetings for the next two years, students wouldn't have much to track.

Steve Gonick, an investor and co-founder, had mostly stayed out of day-to-day operations until then. He made a call to investors when he realized the startup was in trouble.

He acknowledges it would have been far easier to shut down Passport For Good, but he did not want to do that.

“I personally invest in social mission companies that are doing good, and it would be a bummer to not come through for those school districts and those kids and everything," Gonick said.

The startup has raised more than $2 million, at least half since the start of the pandemic, he said. The company is now about $450,000 into another fundraise of $750,000.

“We do have some prominent businesspeople in the Capital District who are investors in Passport For Good, who step up because they are mission driven," he said. "They love the mission of the company and everything, and they want to keep this alive.”

With some success following a BOCES contract that has allowed Passport For Good to sell to about 400 schools in the state, the startup has a revenue target of $1 million this year.

It has roughly 35 school clients right now and would need about 100 more to hit that goal. But with a retention rate above 90%, Gonick thinks that’s a good sign for how things could go.

“That's what gives us real hope that we're onto something," he said. "Everyone who uses the product loves it. Clearly, the sales effort was hindered by the pandemic, and we're coming out of that. I think it really is conceivable that we can hit that number by the midyear.”

He thinks that'll be done by highlighting the software's newest capability. It lays out and tracks requirements for the state’s Seal of Civic Readiness program, which gives students formal recognition for developing civic skills. The effort necessary to track those requirements manually will be burdensome for schools, Gonick said, but many of them will want to participate anyway because of its benefit to students, especially as more schools are getting away from standardized testing.

“We are getting a real feeling that there are a lot of schools that are going for it, and we are marketing directly to those schools that are signing up to it," Gonick said.

One of the Passport For Good's clients is Sachem Central School District on Long Island, one of the largest districts in the state. The high school has two buildings, and the students at one had access to the software before students at the other.

That gave the school a good way to see the software’s effectiveness, said Steve Cina, a consultant who has the COO role for Passport for Good.

“What they realized was that students were able to really document and capture way more of their experiences that allowed them to qualify for more scholarships, as opposed to the other high school building that did not use Passport for Good until the following year,” Cina said.

Passport For Good recently added a corporate client that's using the platform to highlight employee community involvement, as well as a collegiate client, the University of Illinois. Long term, the business would like to expand its client base in those sectors, Cina said.

Despite being “mission driven,” the startup's investors still want to make money, Gonick added – and he thinks they will.

“I believe we're all going to make a handsome profit at the end of this.”
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Old 07-20-2022, 02:50 PM
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Sinclair Schuller on the growth of his newest company, Nuvalence: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...nuvalence.html
From the article: "Sinclair Schuller took no time off in between his last company and his newest.

He and his co-founders incorporated Nuvalence in August 2018, the same month he sold the assets of the Troy-based Apprenda, and started working shortly after.

The only problem was they were unsure of exactly what to do next. They had offers from some venture capitalists, but they weren’t passionate about any specific product idea.

As they were mulling over ideas, they kept in mind a couple of trends they noticed during the 13-year life of Apprenda: the popularity of software platforms and the fact that all businesses needed to adopt some sort of tech.

They started reaching out to people in their networks to learn more about the consulting business, and they heard overall positive responses about experiences working on high-impact projects for a number of clients.

“That cinched it for us,” Schuller said.

They turned their focus toward building a contract-based firm that now designs platforms and products for mostly private companies, as well as some public organizations and a few startups. Apprenda, on the other hand, raised a total of $56 million to create a cloud-based platform product.

The co-founders of Nuvalence are Abraham Sultan, who was also a co-founder of Apprenda, and Rakesh Malhotra, a former executive for Apprenda.

“When we first started it, we didn't know that we were going to like it. Being in consulting is a totally different ballgame than building a product startup," Schuller said. "We ended up loving it, to the extent that we want to grow this continuously.”

Over the last three and a half years, Nuvalence has grown from six people – the three founders and three early employees – to 170 people. That's included 50 people hired in the first quarter of this year.

“We expect to probably grow another 50% in the next year,” he said.

“When we set up this company, we never set it up with specific targets in mind. We're still in that mindset. We manage how impactful our team is on our clients’ outcomes. And that is, I think, one of the best things we could have done.”

The company has about 55 people based on the second floor of the Troy Innovation Garage. Schuller is considering moving into a new office in the region, depending on how many people choose to work in the office regularly. There’s a cluster of people in Toronto near the physical office that opened there recently, as well as employees throughout Canada. And the company recently started employing people in Colombia, South America.

The first client for Nuvalence was a software CEO who needed help transitioning products to the cloud. From there, the founders met with other potential clients. They secured their second client about two months later. The third, a large publicly traded company, was about six to nine months after that.

“So it snowballed, in a positive way, out of control,” Schuller said.

He declined to disclose total revenue for Nuvalence, but he said it tripled between 2019 and 2020 and then again in 2021. They expect to double revenue year over year by the end of 2022.

“It's been profitable since day one,” Schuller said.

The firm has worked on platforms for renewable energy, self-driving cars and the government, including a Covid testing platform. The only partnership that’s been shared publicly is the Excluded Workers Fund product for the New York State Department of Labor.

Nuvalence primarily works with large, established companies – such as those in auto, pharma, or financial services – that are working to make a modern technological shift. Everything has been done from scratch using platforms like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Azure, though the firm Is starting to build some open source components for reuse.

“They're just starting to catch on to the trend that the core strategy that they need to focus on is building software that differentiates them,” Schuller said. “We tend to focus on large organizations, where their aspirations and their current state are wide apart. Their current state might be a history of 100 years of doing business a specific way. And now they need to pivot into software massively, because they're going through an era shift.”

He says there is not much competition because there are very few consulting companies that focus specifically on digital platform development – especially with a team made up of software engineers experienced in bringing commercial products to market.

"That distinction is massively important in how successful a consulting organization can be today,” he said.

“There are probably companies out there that do the same. There's just more work than any one company can handle to begin with. So we're never put in a competitive posture, or rarely. We could take double the work in the next year if we have the people, the time and everything.”

Her startup's pitch: 'QuickBooks for philanthropy': https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...e-startup.html
From the article: "Lisa Munter is about to release a new software platform she says is like the QuickBooks of philanthropy.

The Knitt platform is meant to help donors and nonprofits keep track of financial and other donations, she said.

It’s primarily meant for individual and company donors that give to multiple organizations multiple times each year.

These types of donors and foundations have an annual budget for donations, but there’s often not a great system for keeping track of where and how quickly it’s spent, which could mean they overspend or underspend. The platform shows where they’ve given, how much they’ve given and more.

“Most donors sometimes have these conversations after the fact, which is why it kind of gets frustrating, so we're trying to get them to think ahead of the game so it's more strategic and more impactful that way," Munter said.

Her husband’s company, Munter Enterprises, is an example that she looked at during development.

“They're very philanthropic in our community. They get inundated with requests on a monthly basis, and they're just trying to kind of keep up with it. There's some frustrations around that because they don't really have a formulated plan," Munter said.

The platform allows donors to connect with nonprofits whose missions align with what they want to support. From there, nonprofits can view the profile information of those specific donors and begin forming a relationship.

Munter has been volunteering for about 15 years in the Capital Region nonprofit community, including as board president for the Dake Foundation.

She has noticed some common problems that nonprofits face when seeking donations. For smaller nonprofits, that could include too few resources to adequately solicit donations.

“So many nonprofits are fighting for the same dollar from the same philanthropic donors that are within the community," she said.

Munter learned in 2016 that there were 152 nonprofits in Saratoga County that year, much more than she had thought, which she suspects is a common assumption. Knitt can introduce donors to nonprofits they may not have known existed, she said.

The platform is free to use under a certain threshold of dollars managed, and then the pricing is on a tiered system for now. It’s $50 for nonprofits to join because the startup verifies that every organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and in good financial standing. The highest monthly cost is $120.

“Even at the high end, being $120 – when we were researching and asking our donors – was like a drop in a bucket for what their ROI would be from Knitt," Munter said.

The software was designed based on feedback from dozens of nonprofits. Participants during the beta phase included donors Contractors Sales Co., Adirondack Trust Bank, Druthers, Polyset, Saratoga Eagle and others. Nonprofits included Habitat For Humanity, Franklin Community Center, Northeastern Association of the Blind Albany and others.

“Every feature and function that is on our platform is based off of the wants and needs of the people that we're hoping to help and make a difference with.”

The first release, expected this September, will focus on high-wealth individuals and companies in the Capital Region and Adirondacks, she said.

Besides money, donors and nonprofits can connect about volunteering, in-kind donations and more.

Munter has raised $500,000 from angel investors, which has allowed her to hire two full-time employees, and she likely will seek additional investment in the future."

Malta software startup doubled business this year. Now it plans to double again: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...anagement.html
From the article: "It’s not easy for a business service company to break into the mom-and-pop auto dealership industry. But once you’re in, business snowballs via word-of-mouth, and it gets a lot easier.

That’s how Peter Carusone described the way business went for his Malta software startup, VisionAST, which helps auto and powersports dealerships more easily analyze sales performance data.

The startup has nearly doubled its customer base to 135 in the past six months, with plans to reach at least 250-300 customers by the end of year, Carusone said.

“By the end of the year, we'll be considerably profitable,” Carusone said.

The VisionAST software can be integrated into any existing deal management system, which is the software platform that dealers use to track inventory, services, finances and all other metrics. He says the product offers a user-friendly interface that helps dealers analyze product and service sales performance metrics and understand where leadership should focus on training and business development.

The company’s business projections are just based on organic growth, mostly through referral. But Carusone's also targeting contracts with insurance companies that manage warranties and ancillary products for dealers. Insurance companies could use the software to analyze performance of dealers and focus resources on individual stores that are lagging in sales.

If one of those contracts comes through, that would add hundreds or thousands of dealers to the VisionAST portfolio.

“That's going to be life-changing if one of those happens,” he said.

Carusone said he came up with the idea for the software over his 10 years as the director of operations for Zappone Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram dealers in Clifton Park and Granville.

His job included dealing with customer relationship management products and different types of software products. He was frustrated with how difficult it could be to navigate those different products to generate specific reports.

“As time went by, we started to realize we can't be the only people struggling," he said.

Carusone started VisionAST with backing from an unnamed local dealer. He spent a few years developing the product before working on it full time starting in 2017. He previously had sold advertising, particularly to auto dealers, for media companies. The majority of that time was spent at The Post-Star in Glens Falls.

Using the VisionAST platform, Carusone says tasks that took him hours to complete now take minutes. The simplicity has enabled existing customers to improve their businesses by including the analysis in their everyday routine. Normally, that type of task doesn’t get the priority it should, he said.

“It’s just literally one, two, three clicks, and you know how everyone's performing, where your challenges are, where your strengths are, and you can play to them in real time," he said.

There are more than 18,000 franchise auto dealers and 5,000 powersports dealers in the U.S. Carusone says his biggest competition is the software company StoneEagle, which says it has about 5,000 customers.

That means nearly 70% of the market is untouched, so there’s a lot of work to be done.

“We’re coming into an age of data that is becoming mainstream, where people realize if there's information out there and you're not using it, you're missing something," Carusone said. "A dealer has so much information sitting in their DMS, that in 70% of the cases is untapped. They're not even looking at it in the way they should and leveraging that information, so it seems to me that people are starting to understand that.”

VisionAST moved into an office in one of the Stewart’s Shops headquarters buildings in Malta about 10 months ago. Carusone thinks the synergy between workers has contributed to the company’s recent success. There are 10 people on the team now, and he expects that to grow with the company."
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Old 07-30-2022, 04:44 PM
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How Sinclair Schuller grew Nuvalence from 0 to 170 employees in 4 years: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...ng-growth.html

The Agrawal brothers plan to double employees at Troy startup this year: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...ug-prices.html

Stonyfield Organic founder on why he invested in MyForest Foods: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...hirshberg.html
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Old 08-12-2022, 10:50 AM
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At new Clifton Park medical practice, the doctor will text you now: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...mary-care.html
From the article: "There’s no front desk inside the main door of the new Circulo primary care practice in Clifton Park. Instead, the patient is greeted in a less formal manner, and the small waiting area is meant to feel less sterile.

Once the patients are inside, there’s no need to rush them through in 15 minutes. That’s the point of this practice, said Dr. Jacob Reider, to get away from the traditional fee-for-service model and instead focuses on patient outcomes – with compensation based on a monthly rate for each patient.

The first Capital Region office for Circulo has been open for a couple of months in the same building as a Ballston Spa National Bank branch at 1714 Route 9.

Circulo patients are mostly served through virtual means, like telemedicine. Many patients prefer communicating via text, Reider said. That’s why the practice only needs a small office with a few rooms.

“We're not building this monstrosity … which almost encourages you to go,” Reider said. “We don't actually want people to come unless they need to.”

Reider started the practice, originally called Huddle Health, shortly after leaving the Alliance For Better Health. He became the Circulo general manager of health solutions when the Columbus-based tech startup acquired Huddle last October. Circulo was founded in 2021 with $50 million in venture capital with an aim to increase efficiencies of Medicaid managed care through AI and automation."

Want to know who’s heating up the region’s startup community this year? We’ve got 7 answers.: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...-showcase.html
From this article: "People outside of the Capital Region typically don’t think of it as home to a startup scene. They would be wrong – the work by the companies highlighted here proves that.

The Albany Business Review’s first Inno on Fire showcases some of the Capital Region’s most promising startups in several categories. And it spotlights a coworking space that’s been home to some notable Capital Region startups over the years.

Two startups on the list are focused on next-generation electronics – a growing speciality of the Capital Region. Another company is growing in the niche entertainment industry, and there’s one whose canned cocktail is available in stores throughout the Albany region and Berkshires.

All are good representations of the variety of ways that Capital Region entrepreneurs are working to solve problems or fill gaps in the market.

Companies listed: ​Champé Handcrafted Berkshire Bubbly: https://www.facebook.com/champebubbly/

NoMIS Power Group: https://nomispower.com/

Wright Electric: https://www.weflywright.com/

InspectPoint: https://www.inspectpoint.com/

VoyceMe: https://www.voyce.me/

GyvLink: https://gyvlink.com/

Troy Innovation Garage: https://www.troyinnovationgarage.com/

Brian Corrigan starts Rocket Science, a new video game studio with international plans: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...-corrigan.html
More: "It’s been a few months since Brian Corrigan left his executive role at video game giant Krafton. He already has a new video game studio in the Capital Region and is working on establishing a second office internationally — and a third somewhere else.

Rocket Science fulfills development contracts for other video game companies – an area where there’s plenty of work. The company plans to hire 100 people between three locations by year five. There are 10 people working for the company right now, including six in the Halfmoon office.

“Maybe we'll grow faster, I don't know, but that's the plan,” Corrigan said.

The company just moved into its office, and the founders are working on opening another in Cardiff, Wales.

“What we have decided to do is pick three places where we know we have world class talent, where we can have a hub,” Corrigan said.

Rocket Science gets involved about two years earlier in the development process than two similar Capital Region companies, Wolfjaw and Rushdown — whose founders Corrigan has worked with previously.

“Those other guys are also out there and doing similar work, which is part of the reason why we need multiple locations – because I don't want to be competing for talent with two of my best friends,” Corrigan said.

Rocket Science plans to set up a third office shortly, maybe on the west coast. Corrigan wants it to be another medium-sized city.

“Usually, the economic development teams are much more interested and willing to work with us,” he said. “They're just interested in growth and they're more dynamic, and it's easier to make decisions. And I don't have to pitch economic development projects against Google.”

Rocket Science was co-founded with Tom Daniel, a former head of business development for Unity Software, a publicly traded video game software development company (NYSE: U). For now, Daniel is leading dealmaking while Corrigan is leading operations.

While he works to grow Rocket Science, Corrigan also plans to build software to sell to other video game companies, similar to the model one of his former companies, MadGlory, used to sell the product Gamelocker.

“The product was so popular that we had five customers within nine months, and then PUBG offered to bring us on to do it full time,” he said.

Corrigan started his Capital Region video game career in 2008 as chief technology officer of Agora Games, which was later acquired by WB Games.

He left that role in 2012 and founded MadGlory in Saratoga Springs, which made a tech platform for other video game companies. That studio and its software platform were acquired by Krafton-owned PUBG Corporation in 2018, and Corrigan became the vice president and studio director of the company’s new Saratoga office.

Krafton later promoted him to vice president and head of Americas in March 2020, shortly after it reorganized and merged PUBG into its internal system of studios. The Krafton headquarters is in Seoul, which is 13 hours ahead of New York.

“It was probably the best professional experience in my life,” Corrigan said. “But with the pandemic and everything, it's just really tough running a remote office for a company based on the other side of the world.”

Rocket Science is spending its first year on the second floor of a new building in Halfmoon, at 1385 Crescent Vischer Ferry Road, before it moves into its permanent headquarters next year. The building owner is Bill Lussier, who also owns the adjacent Lussier's Autobody & Repairs.

For the permanent HQ, Corrigan purchased a 9,000-square-foot former firehouse in Glenville for $350,000 and is investing roughly $1.5 million for a full renovation. Adirondack Trust Co. is helping with financing.

He plans to split it into three sections: one for the Rocket Science headquarters, one for small video game companies and the other for gaming workforce development in partnership with Tech Valley Game Space. He has been working with Empire State Development and National Grid because of their interest in the incubator and workforce development programs.

Corrigan said having those other programs is a way to give back to the Capital Region. And with the state recently approving a $5 million tax incentive for video game companies, he thinks there’s a lot that could be gained by doing more work like that.

“I always say there's a lot going on here,” he said. “I think it's kind of on us at this point to prove that [the tax credit] was worth it – and I think the program will expand.”

This South Glens Falls teacher left her job to start a service for other teachers: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...velopment.html
More: "Alissa McDonald doubled her teaching salary in one year through a side business she started during maternity leave in 2019. After more than 14 years as a teacher at the South Glens Falls School District, she left her job earlier this year to help other teachers do the same.

McDonald is the co-founder of PopPD, a startup with a software platform where educators can post video lessons to help other teachers with professional development in the classroom.

Since the software launch in May, the platform has more than 100 teachers creating content and more than 250 users.

PopPD is one of 12 startups from five countries participating in this year’s cohort of the Techstars Anywhere accelerator program.

“Our goal by the end of this program, which is the end of October, is to have 5,000 users – which is a really huge goal, but we're excited to try to get there. And we would love to reach 10,000 teachers by the end of the year," McDonald said.

The platform works as a marketplace where content creators receive 70% of a sale and PopPD receives 30%. The lessons are typically broad concepts on teaching strategies, rather than single-day lesson plans. One of the best-sellers is a lesson from an art teacher who has a class on how to implement student choice in the art classroom. An hour-long lesson is typically $40-$50.

“It's much more responsive than traditional professional development, which is given by a university or maybe a consultant that's been out of the classroom for a while," McDonald said. "So really just trying to connect relevant topics and inspiring instructors with other teachers who need the support.”

Besides offering the additional income, the platform can give content creators a way to become a leader in the profession, something that isn’t really attainable in a school setting, she said.

The majority of teachers in the U.S. already use websites like Teachers Pay Teachers to purchase lesson plans and activities for the classroom, but that doesn’t help as much with professional development, McDonald said. It can be overwhelming to keep track of good pieces of information in places like YouTube and TikTok, and actually integrate that info into teaching methods, she said, which is why she believes the platform can be valuable for users.

“What happens is that the information ends up being fragmented,” she said. “This is more comprehensive and helps teachers figure out the instructional roadmap from start to finish.”

With increased teaching vacancies nationwide, McDonald thinks the platform could be used to train new teachers, some of which are being hired without much experience.

“We can't solve the teacher shortage; I wish we could," McDonald said. "But what we can do is support teachers who are burned out, teachers who are in new settings that maybe don't have that educational background but just want to be in the classroom. And we can help provide a connection globally that wouldn't otherwise be provided.”

McDonald's path to starting PopPD began in 2019 when she was on maternity leave. To create a new stream of income she started the “Teacher Hustle Podcast” and a series of online courses and workshops aimed at helping teachers understand the power of branding. McDonald got her first marketing experience when she and her sister owned a boutique furniture shop in Glens Falls in 2012. McDonald led the social media marketing for the business and then helped other small businesses in the area.

Her online following grew to more than 15,000 educators worldwide, which she said led to thousands of teachers launching their own courses and workshops online. During that time, she saw some good ideas not get as much attention simply because the content creators may not have had enough time to market themselves. She thought creating the PopPD platform could be a good way to populate those ideas in one place.

PopPD's co-founder is Megan Kensington, a former high school teacher based in Boston. They met because Kensington was a student in one of McDonald’s classes."

$50M later, MyForest Foods is ready to scale mushroom bacon production: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...and-plant.html
More: "MyForest Foods now has a full commercial mycelium farm. That means that the startup can soon more widely distribute the mushroom-based bacon that’s been in development for years.

The farm includes 120,000 square feet of new infrastructure in the Capital Region that will allow the startup to grow 3 million pounds of mycelium – the rootlike structure of mushrooms – and produce 1 million pounds of the MyBacon product.

The expanded distribution is starting in Massachusetts with the Berkshire Food Co-op in Great Barrington and Cornucopia Natural Wellness Market in Northampton.

The company is working with local distributors to get MyBacon toward New York City and further into the Northeast. The product will soon be sold at Northeast farmers markets, including the one in Troy, from a new food truck, as well as select restaurants.

“One of the things we're trying to do is actually connect with people directly on this, and so that's why we're focusing on the natural grocers, going to farmers markets,” said Eben Bayer, co-founder and CEO of MyForest Foods. “Our plan is to grow through natural grocers initially and then big name-brand stores.”

He expects the product to be placed in one new store per month through the end of the year, plus up to 30 more stores next year. Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany has consistently sold out of MyBacon each week since sales began there in late 2020.

MyForest is spun off from Ecovative Design, which has spent years developing strains of mycelium that can be used for a range of products. A strain that closely resembles meat is used to make the MyBacon product.

The plan is that MyForest will sell whole cuts of meat substitutes and other food products in the future, but the focus right now is entering the $6 billion bacon market.

The bacon is made with five other ingredients: beet juice for color, coconut oil, salt, sugar and natural flavors."
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Old 08-25-2022, 09:27 AM
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Schenectady, How advice from P1ston's advisory board helped triple sales leads: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...g-henning.html
From the article: "The software startup P1ston has made a new partnership that the CEO says has multiplied the number of sales leads.

P1ston has easier access to all customers of Henning Industrial Software in Ohio since a partnership earlier this summer, which has roughly tripled sales leads for the Schenectady-based startup, according to PJ Bellomo, CEO of P1ston.

The P1ston software is meant to streamline order information and proceeding customer communications for small- and medium-sized manufacturers, clearing up bottlenecks and preventing production hiatuses.

The purchase order flows into a customer's account, and any communication and workflow is recorded and stays with that account — accessible by the company, vendors, supplies and the customer. Users can access the platform via desktop or mobile device.

P1ston had been working to integrate its own software into the EstiTrack enterprise resource planning (ERP) system made by Henning. ERP software is what manufacturers use to track in-house operations. The P1ston software focuses on business that happens outside the four walls of a facility, Bellomo said.

Next, P1ston used that EstiTrack customer example to pitch a larger partnership with Henning that would give the startup access to Henning’s customers.

“All of which have this problem,” Bellomo said.

“Henning gets something out of it, we get something out of it. He can go help his customers by offering an additional functionality that we're jointly selling and marketing to his customers.”

Bellomo says having ongoing experience with the EstiTrack software allows the P1ston developers to complete an integration with one of Henning’s customers quickly – 24 hours from closing the sale, at this point, he said.

“[Rich Henning] uploaded a full-blown operational version of his entire ERP into our private Amazon Cloud,” Bellomo said. “As we continue and advance the development integration, we've got our own testing environment. We’ve greatly advanced our integration in the last couple of weeks.”

While small companies can purchase the P1ston software individually, P1ston is focused on the software integration model. The startup has already integrated its software with QuickBooks and is working on matching with other platforms.

That approach came from recommendations by a new advisory board of experienced Capital Region business leaders, Bellomo said.

The advisory board consists of Tom Franceski, John Cococcia and Chris Kelly.

It also includes David Dussault, CEO of Schenectady-based P1 Industries, a machining and manufacturing company that makes turbine and generator parts for companies in the power generation, oil and gas, aerospace, hydro and other industries. Bellomo has been developing the software with P1 Industries since the beginning.

“We've put together this nice board and we're just kind of following a playbook, and it's working and showing results,” Bellomo said.

Franceski is the CFO and principal of cb20, an IT company based in Saratoga Springs. He previously was president of DocStar and then vice president of that unit after it was acquired by Epicor Software.

Cococcia has been involved in many startups over the years, including as a vice president for Plug Power. He is also an investor through Armory Square Ventures.

Kelly has also built multiple companies in the Capital Region and beyond over the years."

He was behind Citi Bike in NYC. Now this Albany startup co-founder has another big idea: https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/i...g-startup.html
From the article: "The bicycle share company that Jeff Olson co-founded grew to 500 employees and amassed 30 million bike rides while he was working on it in the early 2010s.

That company, Oregon-based Alta Bicycle Share – which was behind the Citi Bike program in New York City – was acquired by a subsidiary of Lyft in 2014.

With expertise he gained during that time, Olson is working on a new startup he says addresses an expensive problem that all micromobility programs face when it comes to charging electric bikes and scooters.

“As an entrepreneur, you're never done. You just keep going to the next thing, and this is that next thing,” said Olson, co-founder and vice president for the startup re:Charge-e.

Based in the new Innovate 518 space in UAlbany’s ETEC Building, re:Charge-e is developing a wireless charger for bicycle and scooter docking stations.

Right now, companies are having workers either drive around and swap out batteries, or they’re picking up bikes and scooters to charge them at a facility. There are also programs through which individuals are paid to charge a unit at their house or business.

“It's not financially sustainable at all. It costs way too much money to do that. And you're seeing some of the companies really struggle with trying to become profitable,” Olson said. “We can significantly reduce those costs by providing networks of charging stations that shared mobility operators can use.”

The current model also leads to bikes and scooters being left all over cities because they lose their charge.

While some of the other wireless chargers in development are made by companies for their specific products, he says the re:Charge-e product can be used universally by charging different types of batteries at different voltages. That means people who own their own electric bikes or scooters or wheelchairs could also charge them in a public space.

During his work on Alta Bicycle Share, Olson was approached by Julien Bouget, a French-American wind energy physicist, with the idea for the charging technology. Bouget is now CEO of re:Charge-e.

They decided to go into business together, and now they’re getting ready to tackle a sector of the fast-growing mobility market. There was $2.9 billion in new micromobility investment in 2021 alone, according to the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility.

The plan is to complete two pilot projects – the startup already has letters of intent. Then, the goal is to make an agreement with at least one of the large mobility operators before expanding more widely, Olson said.

Besides developing the technology, he pointed out the importance of proper deployment – knowledge he says he gained during his time at Alta.

“We figured out how to deploy it, operate it and manage it in a way that was very successful for ourselves, for our partners, for the cities, for the corporate sponsors," Olson said.

The charger would be installed at each of a city’s individual docking stations. To work, there will be a concealed device in each vehicle and in each dock of the storage rack. The electricity will transmit from the rack device to the bike device without needing to make physical contact. Olson says the amount of power it takes to fully charge one car could fully charge 200 bikes or scooters wirelessly.

The startup developed the prototype with tools at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity in Troy, funded by a $250,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The startup was also one of three companies that just won $50,000 through a new pre-seed investment program at Innovate 518."
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