Startups

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…


Kelloley, the startup that finally saw the light

By GREGORY ZELLER // Some innovators are born knowing what they’re meant to do. Some figure it out along the way. And some require a little divine intervention. There was never any doubt Stacey Foley would run her own business, at least not for Stacey Foley. But what kind of business? Even the entrepreneur didn’t know. Her path was illuminated, somewhat, by the Swarovski Crystal craze of the last decade. A big fan of the…


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…


So, Brian Fried had this idea…

By GREGORY ZELLER // Perhaps Brian Fried should launch the re-inventors club. Boasting many notches on his toolbelt – several inventions, a few commercial scores and a pair of how-to books for the entrepreneurial tinkerer – Fried is founder of Inventors and Entrepreneur Clubs in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. The networking groups have exposed him to makers at various points on the invention spectrum, and he’s helped several find their way. Now, the corporate…


Hofstra, SCCC land state grants to help small biz

Hofstra University and Suffolk County Community College will split a $162,000 grant from Empire State Development to help aspiring small business owners. The funds will pay for counselors to help people interested in starting a small business. Topics include writing a business plan, obtaining loans and other financing and basic management. The program also helps minority- and women-owned businesses become certified to compete for government contracts and veterans wanting to start businesses. The schools have…


Nat’l retail-delivery service rolls onto Long Island

By GREGORY ZELLER // Have you ever wished you could get a gallon of organic milk from Whole Foods, a bag of kibble from Petco and your vitamins from CVS, without all the driving and crowds and checkout lines? According to Instacart, you probably have. Responding to “incredible demand” from Long Island residents, the San Francisco-based retail delivery service is expanding operations to include Nassau and Suffolk counties. Beginning Aug. 1, customers in 110 Long…


For startups seeking capital, the name is no game

By GREGORY ZELLER // What’s in a name? Maybe everything, if you’re a startup in need of early-stage capital. A new study by researchers from Stony Brook University, Drexel University and Villanova University explores the effects of “name fluency” on investors – that is, the familiarity, uniqueness and phonetic influence of a company name, and how venture capitalists tend to react. By exploring “the two ways you can evaluate a name, two kinds of fluency,”…