Friday, March 28, 2014

Ways to fund a new venture

I was recently a guest lecturer at Cornell in a class for engineers and scientists with entrepreneurial aspirations. One of the topics that I covered was all the ways I've funded my businesses. Funding is consistently the #1 thing aspiring entrepreneurs ask me about. In business school, we learned a lot about venture capital and angel investors, but that's just one of many options.

Fund this idea

Here's the list:
  • Founder Investment
  • Business Plan Competitions
  • New York State Grants for Growth
  • Vendor Equity Compensation
  • Employee Equity Compensation
  • Employee Investment
  • Angel Investors
  • Venture Capital
  • Community Development Evergreen Funds
  • Federal Government SBIR
  • SBIR Matching
  • Employment Tax Credits
  • Empire Zone Tax Credits
  • Community Development Loans
  • Student Intern Programs
  • Credit Cards
  • Revenues

For awhile our investors referred to us as the magically self-funding company. By being creative with both our sources of funds and how we spent it, we were able to do a lot with a little.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Accidental Dog

We now have an accidental dog. Lily came into our lives through fate. And she was terrified of me. Spoiler: She likes me now. But to tell the whole tale, I wanted to share the story from my wife's message to a friend after her shift at the Emergency Room:


As a fellow animal lover, I thought you would enjoy this story. I was finishing up a long triage shift in the ER a few weeks ago. The temp was -13 by the time I was finishing up around 7. My last patient that presented to the desk was a single pregnant mother with a young girl. While I was waiting for the OB doctor to answer my page so I could determine if I was sending the patient to that floor or keeping her, I hear a little bark coming from the waiting room. I saw through the security monitor that they were out there trying to hide a little white dog in their coats. It turns out, they had recently moved here from the south and were unable to find housing that would allow them to have the dog. The dog was staying with an aunt in town but they had just rescued her from the house because they found out she was abusing the dog, and prior to their arrival, she threw the her out into a snowbank!

Security wouldn't let the dog stay in the waiting area. We had to put her out in the freezing car with the promise that we would try to take warm blankets out every few hours. As I escorted them to OB, we began talking, and I couldn't help but bond with the adorable little girl who wanted to tell me endless stories of her best friend Lily (the dog) all the way up the elevator. To make a long story short, I quickly recognized that not only was there a dog in need, but a family that was in crisis, a stressed pregnant single mom with nothing and a 6 year old girl worried about her dog freezing to death. It started with an offer to foster the dog for the weekend so she was safe and warm and they could figure something out, and ended with us being the proud new guardians of Lily, the 3 year old puggle who we never would have chosen but somehow seems to have chosen us.

I gave my husband about 10 minutes notice that I was on my way home and was convinced I was going to be met with divorce papers. But he fell in love after about 5 minutes. He still thinks we are "fostering," but I am pretty sure he is on to me by now and knows she isn't going anywhere.
What's a good thing to do before starting a 12 credit semester and working part time?...... Get a new dog!!
Hope all is well

Talk to you soon


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Supporting a Cause Leads to Reconnecting with Friends

This year I signed up to participate in a fund raiser associated with a fitness challenge. This is the first time I've ever done something like this. The event is Cycle For Courage, where volunteers participate in group indoor cycling to raise money and community awareness for Camp Good Days. I originally committed to do 5 hours on a stationary bike, and if I raised over $600, then I'd bump it up to 6 hours. As of this writing, I've raised $1,454! Thanks everyone!!

I'll be doing my time on the bike at Wright Fitness & Cycling in Ithaca, NY on February 8th from 7am to 1pm if you'd like to come cheer on all the riders!

For More Good Days, and Making Good Days Great

Camp Good Days is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, adults, and families whose lives have been touched by cancer. They do this by creating summer camping experiences and hosting year-round activities.

Camp Good Days was founded over 30 years ago by Gary Mervis to provide a residential camping program for his daughter, Teddi Mervis, and 62 other children with cancer from Upstate New York. It has now grown to become one of the largest organizations of its kind in the world. Camp Good Days maintains it's own recreational facility, located on the shores of Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York, where the residential camping programs take place.

A Good Days view of Keuka Lake

An unexpected consequence of sending out a ton of emails asking for a contribution is that I was able to reconnect to a dozens of old friends! People who I hadn't spoken to in years not only contributed to the cause, be reached out to find out what's new, and share what's new with them. It also raised awareness for a great organization doing good things.

If you'd like to contribute to the ride, please click here. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the ride! The kids thank you, my legs won't.

------ addendum ------

Between my page and Kristin's, we ended up raising $2,159! Thanks everyone!

Here's the ride stats: 6 hours, 110 km, 4811 calories. I was all set to reach and beat that goal of 100 miles - until the unthinkable happened: I found out the bikes were in kilometers!! I have been using these bikes for 5 years, and the whole time I thought they were calibrated in miles! I made a comment when I passed the 67 mark around 4 hours and said "I'm going to make it to 100 miles", to which the class instructor April remarked, "The bikes are in kilometers". 110 kilometers will have to do!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Toboggan Run" by Brad Treat, age 15

My mother was recently going through some boxes of keepsakes and she found one of my old homework assignments. It's called "Toboggan Run". In honor of our first snow of the season, I thought I'd post it here.

(click images to enlarge)

You can't show off by yourself, and sometimes you can't make it home.

I had to guess at the year, but the technology is a bit of a giveaway. While it looks like it was typed, it was actually printed out on an IBM daisywheel printer. Those went away in the late 80's, so this is around the time I was in 7th to 9th grade.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Grand Tablet

My friend Fox and his brother Collin are launching a new venture called Grand Tablet. This project began when they observed the older members of their family struggling with the non-intuitive designs of tablet computers, while simultaneously loving the capabilities of them once they figured out how to use them. The result is Grand Tablet: an affordable, easy-to-use tablet computer designed for grandparents.

You can support their launch, and pre-order your own Grand Tablet via their IndieGoGo campaign here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Video: Mezmeriz Founder Shahyaan Desai

Dave Burbank helped us make a short, professional video that captures Shahyaan Desai's vision for what the Mezmeriz MEMS technology is able to do.

One tiny mirror, Tons of Possibilities

We went with video because we wanted to capture the spirit of what is possible, in a way that just isn't communicated with PowerPoint slides.

We also wanted to show the prototype projector in an honest way: No lighting tricks, or other shenanigans. Just a projector working in a lit room.