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 Slowa 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…


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…