Startups

In the power-conversion business, it’s who you know

By GREGORY ZELLER // A six-year-old power play and its three-year-old sister startup are providing something truly unique on Long Island – a two-headed engineering enterprise with the ability to empower the powerless. That could have many interpretations, but it takes a fairly literal spin at Unique Technical Services, a 2012 launch and member of Stony Brook University’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center, and Smithtown-based Unique Electric Solutions, that slightly younger sibling. With a…


With Patient Innovations, the wait may be over

By GREGORY ZELLER // Patient Innovations does not have modest goals. Citing a sad legacy of waiting-room delays and other gross inefficiencies costing healthcare providers both time and money, the 2013 startup is out to change the healthcare world. And if it generates a billion-dollar payday along the way, so much the better, says cofounder Ken Greenberg. Pardon Greenberg’s optimism, which may be influenced by his success as cofounder and CEO of award-winning, circa-1992, Hauppauge-based…


Filling a modest plate, sweetly, at startup Foodcubate

By AMY ONORATO // The food industry is Anna Kotler’s bread and butter. The 20-year marketing veteran built her career working on brand development for food-focused Fortune 500 companies like Campbell’s Soup Co. and Conagra Brands Inc. – but when it came to defining her own recipe for success, Kotler wasn’t satisfied with the corporate climate’s structured lifestyle. “After working for those big packaged-food companies, I wanted a little more flexibility in my schedule,” Kotler…


Rethinking the science of business (and clean energy)

By AMY ONORATO // Becoming an entrepreneur introduced Slawa Solovyov to a new way of thinking about science – a mindset incorporating business and marketing factors that went beyond straight research and development. For Solovyov, who had spent the previous 20 years pursuing superconductor research at Brookhaven National Laboratory, it was a challenge. And it would answer the question: What happens when a scientist wants to become an entrepreneur? Solovyov – also chief scientist at…


Harvesting cash crops on a sprouting ‘urban farm’

By AMY ONORATO // Don DiLillo’s entrepreneurial journey doesn’t begin in a boardroom, but a basement – in his parents’ basement, on homemade shelves, in boxes of soil and seeds. In 2016, DiLillo was a 23-year-old working steadily for Empire LED Solutions in Farmingdale. But outside of the lighting-technology business, he was an agriculture enthusiast, a passion ignited over summers working the land at Ronkonkoma’s Thera Farms and cultivated at night, when DiLillo enjoyed YouTube…


Ready to roll, MunchMoney already tastes the big time

By GREGORY ZELLER // Several different fuses lit Chris Kane’s lightbulb moment, but if there’s a recurring theme in this origin story, it’s his own munchies. Kane, now the CEO of MunchMoney Inc., was following a fairly familiar arc – a finance and mathematics degree from James Madison University, a burgeoning career as an administrator with Hauppauge-based Gemini Hedge Fund Services. But his stomach was rumbling, literally and figuratively. “Entrepreneurism is something I always wanted…


For soaring startup Flygirl, smaller is way, way better

By GREGORY ZELLER // Entrepreneur Lisa Abbey always had a nose for the niche, but the roots of her burgeoning beauty business are colored by experience. A hair stylist with three decades of bobs, pixies and perms under her belt, all on Long Island, Abbey has also proven herself a creative risk-taker. The first two salons she opened, in 1989 and 1991, were located on the campuses of C.W. Post College (now LIU Post) and…


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…


With ‘pop up,’ The Spur serves a tantalizing appetizer

By GREGORY ZELLER // The Spur is now open for business, and pleasure. At least, what founder Ashley Heather calls a “pop up” version of the Hamptons’ first-ever shared-office space, which will officially open the doors of its new 10,000-square-foot “private co-working and entrepreneur’s club” this summer but for now is gathering strength inside the friendly confines of the Southampton Social Cub. The Spur – the physical embodiment of i-hamptons, a Southampton-based “community and resource…


Getting the Drop on new co-working spaces

By GREGORY ZELLER // Long Island’s intriguing co-working marketplace is growing again, in more ways than one. Bridgeworks founder Graham Beck is already an entrepreneurial innovator in the regional co-working game: He’s the founder of the Long Beach shared-office campus, a 2016 startup for early-stage business owners (and established professionals) looking to mix surf and sand with their sporadic workspace requirements. Now, Beck – who’s already doubled Bridgeworks’ size and is deep into planning a…


The case of the $2M (and counting) stay-home dad

By GREGORY ZELLER // Philip Smith follows plenty of leads. It makes sense the Port Jefferson native and lifelong Suffolk County resident would land in the lead-generation business. Smith is a true entrepreneurial detective, more apt to study a problem than to charge ahead, always picking up clues to unravel the bigger mystery. It’s evident throughout his tactical business career. After earning an online degree from the University of Phoenix, the then-23-year-old started his first…


In $2 million startup, 11,000 wines and one full circle

By GREGORY ZELLER // As the latest cog in a multistate corporate wheel likely to spin past $3 billion in revenue next year, Total Wine Spirits & More is not your typical startup, for Westbury or anywhere else. And it’s not particularly innovative – though actually it is, contorting Maryland-based Total Wine & More’s proven formula (170-something stores and counting) to squeeze through New York State’s regulatory hoops (more below). But if the megalithic retailer…


A co-working facility for mom and pop, literally

By GREGORY ZELLER // From Albany’s corridors of power to the local co-working facility’s unassuming cubicle, there’s plenty of support for the little guy. Entrepreneurs can leverage the overhead-cutting benefits of a shared-office environment, the tax-cutting delights of a Startup NY-type incentives program and a dozen other concerted efforts designed specifically to boost their startups. But these socioeconomic engines largely stall when it comes to one fairly common truth about risk-taking business-starters: They’re often thirtysomething…


After curing what ailed it, ‘TopDoc’ startup soars

By GREGORY ZELLER // And you thought medical school took forever. It’s been 10 long years since husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Anthony Casimano and Siobhan O’Grady launched their online appointment-setting service for local doctors and dentists. But it was just three years ago that the floundering startup found its path, thanks to some skilled digital programmers and an evolved business plan. Built around a proprietary, comprehensive and free public database featuring 1 million-plus board-certified providers, FindaTopDoc.com is…


At Port Jeff comics shop, doing the time warp, again

By GREGORY ZELLER // Holy old school! In a digital era decidedly defined by screens large and small, a forward-thinking entrepreneur is turning back the clock by inviting customers to turn actual pages. At a minimum, un-caped crusader Joshua Darbee is turning heads at Red Shirt Comics, a relative newcomer that’s already feeling right at home in downtown Port Jefferson. Since opening in May, the friendly neighborhood industrialist has made plenty of fans, attracted precisely…