Startups

Digital Donations adds new piece to evolutionary puzzle

By GREGORY ZELLER // There’s a unique theory of evolution in effect at Melville tech developer Digital Donations, not following humanity’s ancient origins but formulating the species’ not-too-distant future – at least, the part concerned with electronic payments. This particular evolutionary chain represents the theoretical machinations of Keith Orlean, who in 2014 launched Digital Donations to capitalize on the payment-processing expertise he’d gathered over a dozen years as president of Digital Processing Solutions, a prior…

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They were brew-tours before brew-tours were cool

By GREGORY ZELLER // Before everyone and their brother was offering bus tours of Long Island’s brew pubs and vineyards, there was Tapped Enterprises. The Ronkonkoma-based brainchild of President Kevin Bowker actually launched in 2008, first as a purveyor of what the founder called “dorm décor” – posters, flags and other beer-themed accouterments for the college set. But by 2012, still years before leave-the-driving-to-us tours of Long Island’s craft-beverage scene were in vogue, the enterprise…


At Vaya, second-generation success is in the bags

By GREGORY ZELLER // For entrepreneur Tianna Meilinger, it’s a family thing. The innovator carved her niche back in 2005, when she launched her first company – Vaya Bags​, a Huntington Station-based manufacturer of custom bags and weatherproof coverings. But her craftsmanship goes back much further, to her early teens, when Meilinger started working for her dad. John Meilinger – “Miles,” to friends and loyal customers – was a self-employed craftsman who designed unique clothing…


Because wealthy entrepreneuers need a hand, too

By GREGORY ZELLER // The “flip” came around 2014, after Ashley John Heather and his wife, Diana, welcomed their third child. Heather, a Brit who emigrated to the United States around 2000, had lived his entire U.S. life in New York City. But it was two years since he’d sold his successful e-commerce startup Dotbox to NYC holding company MDC Partners, about that long since he’d bought the house in the Hamptons, a few too…


‘Dormant’ biotech wakes on Alzheimer’s fast track

By GREGORY ZELLER // A pre-clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company is being fast-tracked toward a potential Alzheimer’s treatment, after taking a decidedly slow road. Stony Brook-based Avanti Biosciences Inc. actually launched in 2009, but was “dormant for a few years,” according to founder Gian Luca Araldi, “kind of an empty shell.” It was only in the last two years, when “I had some ideas I wanted to develop on my own,” that Araldi – a former senior…


What looks good? With Foodfaves, the future

By GREGORY ZELLER // Sydney Epstein wasn’t hungry for entrepreneurial success. She was just hungry. After graduating from Emerson College, the future business owner took a job as a TV and film production assistant in Los Angeles. At the top of her settling-into-a-new-place list was “finding my go-to restaurant, like I do in every city,” she told Innovate LI, so the self-described “food-obsessed millennial” did what millennials do. But Epstein quickly lost her appetite for…


Thinking big, about the subconscious of coding

By GREGORY ZELLER // In an age ruled by digital interfaces and computerized systems, Noreen Kazi and Nisha Bhalla may have cracked the code. Neither is, by education or inherent skill, a natural coder. But the entrepreneurial sisters are both scientists: Kazi studied physical therapy at Stony Brook University before pausing to raise a family, while Bhalla earned an MBA at Harvard University and made a career of launching high-tech startups for larger corporations, focused…