No. 294: Hofstra innovators rise, MunchMoney packs a lunch and SUNation’s shifting solar perspective

Go Van Gogh: Happy birthday, Vincent, post-Impressionist master and big fan of life.

You’ve done it again: Welcome to Friday, dear reader, and the end of another week of socioeconomic innovation.

That’s a lot of Peeps: It’s a holiday weekend, of course, the holiest of Christian holy days and another surefire bonanza for retailers. According to our buddies at Statistic Brain, Americans spend more than $14.6 billion on Easter-related goods each year, including $2.1 billion on Easter candy alone.

By the way, although it’s smack-dab in the middle of the range of possible Easter dates (March 22-April 25), Easter Sunday rarely falls on April 1 – just 11 times since 1714, not once since 1956 and only thrice more between Sunday and 2108.

Trick question: Speaking of April 1, how exactly did April Fool’s Day become a thing? See below.

Change that: Happy anniversary to the pencil with an attached eraser, patented March 30, 1858, by Philadelphia inventor Hyman Lipman.

All sales are final: The ink dried March 30, 1867, on “Seward’s Folly” – what the press called Secretary of State William Seward’s deal to purchase Alaska from Russia for roughly $7.2 million, which turned out to be a fairly decent score.

Spanning the boroughs: One-hundred-nine years ago today, the Queensboro Bridge first carried passengers and pedestrians from Queens to Manhattan.

He forgot to duck: It’s also the 37th anniversary of John Hinckley Jr.’s 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

Those aren’t candles: Happy birthday German chemist Robert Bunsen (1811-1899), inventor of the Bunsen burner.

And many more “Black Beauty” author Anna Sewell (1820-1878), “Hollywood Squares” host Peter Marshall (born 1926), legendary guitarist Eric Clapton (born 1945) and groundbreaking rapper MC Hammer (a.k.a. Stanley Burrell, born 1962).

Also: Some Dutch guy Van Gogh (1853-1890), claims to be the “pioneer of Expressionism,” has a birthday today.

Wish Vince well at, or drop off a hot tip or just say “hi.” Our weekend is never complete without hearing from you.


A few words from our sponsor: Farrell Fritz, a full-service law firm with 15 practice groups, advises startups on entity formation, founder and shareholder agreements, funding, executive compensation and benefits, licensing and technology transfer, mergers and acquisitions and other strategic transactions. The firm’s blog, New York Venture Hub, discusses legal and business issues facing entrepreneurs and investors.



Take that, Pennsylvania: The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency on Thursday issued preliminary approval for an incentives package that will help a burgeoning consumer-products manufacturer expand in Hauppauge.

With the help of the IDA’s tax-abatement package, Premier Care Industries – a Canadian transplant that moved to Long Island in 2006 and manufactures branded and private-label disposable consumer products – will expand its Marcus Boulevard operations in a 30,000-square-foot, $3 million expansion project that will create 35 new full-time positions over the next two years.

Premier Care Industries COO Matthew Neman said the tax breaks would help PCI compete with rivals “in lower-cost regions like the Carolinas and Pennsylvania,” while Suffolk County IDA Executive Director Tony Catapano referenced an even wider playing field.

“Manufacturers like Premier Care Industries are competing with companies across the globe,” Catapano said Thursday. “This transaction will secure new investment and job creation in Suffolk County.”

Final countdown: Congratulations to the finalists in the 2018 Hofstra-Digital Remedy Venture Challenge, who will compete for three top slots – and more than $70,000 in working capital – after surviving the annual business plan pitch-a-thon’s semifinal round this week at Hofstra University’s Axinn Library IdeaHUb.

Finalists include Reza Yassi (Law, Class of 2018), pitching Attorneed, a virtual internship program for law students; Breanna Toney (Entrepreneurship, 2021), serving up Breazy Pops, a cake-based push pop; Peyton Marsh (Entrepreneurship, 2021), the brains behind City Leaf, an indoor-farm concept providing organic products to local restaurants; Brianna Powell (Entrepreneurship, 2018), creator of greeting card customizer C St. Letters; and Seema Rabbaran (Law, 2018), who wants to provide abbreviated audio recounts of instructional law cases via the startup Lawdio.

Also pitching in the finale will be Elnaz Sarabchian (Education, 2020), proposing MedAux, a patient-assessment solution for post-acute care of heart-failure patients; Jonathan Preminger (School of Medicine, 2018), hawking his patented UV-powered garment sterilizer SteriLux Systems; and Myles Martinez (Psychology, 2018), whose app Text-SWAP is designed to help students trade textbooks with peers each semester.

Capping off the final round will be two teams: Lucas Campos (Economics, 2019) and Cassio Caros (Computer Science, 2019), whose app-based We Wash venture provides car-washing services while the user sleeps, works or studies in class; and Zach Andosca (Liberal Arts, 2018), Stamatis Evmorfiadis (Computer Science, 2020), Riginos Sepetas (Business Management, 2018) and Alec Simitian (Finance, Dec 2018), pitching photography faceoff app We.Vote.

The 10 finalists will square off in the Venture Challenge finals, slated to run 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. April 20 at Hofstra’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication. Learn more here.



Hauppauge Hop: How West Islip startup MunchMoney and its namesake fast-casual restaurant customer-loyalty app plan to springboard from Hauppauge Industrial Park to the Big Apple.

Keyed in: For in-the-field workers who need both touchscreen and keypad capabilities from their virtually indestructible mobile computers, Woodbury-based Janam Technologies introduces the XM75.

Expanding the sun room: With its acquisition of Northport-based Energy by Choice, Ronkonkoma-based SUNation Solar Systems once again bulks up its service-oriented customer base.



NYSERDA is going to Israel, state development funds are going to two more Island downtowns and thanks to South Nassau Communities Hospital, expectant moms enduring high-risk pregnancies have a better place to go.

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No contest: Former LIPA Chairman and NYPA CEO Richard Kessel, appointed to the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency Board of Directors in January, is the board’s new chairman.

Against the grain: All sand is not created equal, and as the world runs out of the grittier kind used in concrete, builders may turn next to Earth’s softer deserts.

“For the daughters of the continent:” At The Next Einstein Forum, the largest biannual gathering of African inventors and researchers, the top $25,000 prize went to a female computer scientist leading Malawi toward 21st century innovation.



+ John Cosgrove, has been named the new chairman of surgery Glen Cove Hospital. Certified by the American Board of Surgery, Cosgrove is a graduate of New York Medical College and completed his residency at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. He comes to Glen Cove Hospital from Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport and was previously chief of general surgery at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Hospital.

+ Kimberly Taylor has joined Total Technology Solutions in Melville as an IT consultant. Taylor was previously an account executive at NST in East Northport.

+ Katherine Fritz has been tapped by The Association of Fundraising Professionals-Long Island Chapter to chair its Philanthropy Day 2018. Fritz is director of development for the Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs.

+ Lori Anne De Iulio Casdia has launched PTP Consultants, a Mount Sinai-based marketing and public relations firm. She was most recently director of public relations for H2M architects + engineers in Melville.

+ Jessica Soultanian-Braunstein has joined the East Hampton office of Egan & Golden as an associate in the Matrimonial and Family Law practice group. She was formerly a civil prosecutor with the City of New York.

+ Patrice Peretti has been named in-service education coordinator and director of infection control at Apex Rehabilitation & Healthcare in South Huntington, which she joined last year as a nursing supervisor.

+ Jon Ten Haagen, founder and principal of Ten Haagen Financial Group in Huntington, has been elected to the Northport Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

+ Jane Chen, an associate at Uniondale-based Forchelli Deegan Terrana, has been named to the executive board of the Hofstra University Law School Alumni Association and co-chairwoman of its Diversity Committee.

+ Danny Carrascal has been promoted to associate at Garden City-based Franklin, Gringer & Cohen.

+ Una Kelly, a retired senior project manager for Verizon in Garden City, has been elected to the board of directors of the Association of BellTel Retirees in Cold Spring Harbor.

+ James Kennedy, a project manager/estimator for Plainview-based Haugland Energy, has been elected to the board of directors of the Long Island Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

+ Jacqueline Selva has been promoted to assistant vice president for practice operations at Catholic Health Services in Rockville Centre. She formerly served as system director for practice management.

+ Steve Howe has been hired as firm onboarding manager at Vanderbilt Financial Group in Woodbury. He previously directed operations and compliance at 3 Dimensional Wealth Advisory in Locust Valley.

+ Joanne Lehmann has been promoted to health and wellness manager at Jefferson’s Ferry Life Plan Community in South Setauket.



Space race: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the DOE are calling on innovators and entrepreneurs to share their most transformative energy ideas in the NASA iTech Challenge.

Wine, women and song: From Wine Enthusiast, 10 trailblazing women leading the wine industry forward.

Trick answer: While Aprils Fools’ Day’s true origins are not entirely clear, many historians trace it back to 1582, when France finally adopted the Gregorian calendar. Some French folks were slow to react (although the Council of Trent had announced the pending switch from the Julian calendar nearly two decades earlier) and continued celebrating the New Year on April 1, setting up centuries of jokes and hoaxes.

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