Eastern NY Angels Develops Successful Approach to Mentoring Entrepreneurs
Eastern NY Angels (ENYA) was co-founded in 2010 by Richard Frederick and Joseph Richardson with the purpose of mentoring entrepreneurs and helping early-stage companies succeed.
After the creation of its second fund in 2014, ENYA counted 44 members, $2.5M in investable money, and was investing in 9 companies.
Richard Frederick tells us about the philosophy of ENYA and their special approach to coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs:
We work really hard to mentor our companies. We are actively involved, we don’t just put the money in and that’s it.
ROI is definitely not the first decision factor for ENYA members as they go through the process of gauging companies, whereas this can be the case in other Angel groups.
“Our first objective is to build companies and help create new jobs in the region. Second is to help grow the entrepreneurial environment in Upstate NY, and only thirdly, to make money,” Frederick said.
Most of ENYA’s members have tremendous experience. They are entrepreneurs who had successful businesses and who went through the process of developing, funding, growing and ultimately selling a business. “We try to utilize this knowledge as much as we can to help our companies.”
We have a different philosophy then many of the other Angel groups. For the most part, our portfolio is comprised of technology companies that are in the clean tech or green tech space. The portfolio includes bio tech, battery, thermal electrics and waste heat recovery companies to name a few. Rather than have a lot of smaller investments in a lot of companies, we make larger investments in fewer companies.
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“Our group feels very strongly that the pay-back for us as senior executives is to take the knowledge and experience we have and help someone else be successful. And if they are successful, we are successful too.”
Dumbstruck is a good example of a successful collaboration between ENYA and entrepreneurs, where time and coaching preceded investment in the company.
Dumbstruck is a research and audience engagement technology, a platform allowing to capture live reactions of users to content, co-founded by Peter Allegretti and Mike Tanski, two Ph.D. students in the informatics program at University of Albany.
“At first, the app was going to be a B2C app, and they wanted to use Facebook as network growth for potential customers. We thought it was interesting but we did not think it was a viable business model. We worked with them before we invested and helped them change their business model,” said Frederick. Mentors made active introductions and brought in some people who had experience in webmarketing and could help the two entrepreneurs scale their business.
Peter Allegretti, founder of Dumbstruck, tells us about his great partnership with ENYA:
Their group of investors have people of all different industries. For us, that was very valuable. They actually invested in us pretty early on, as we were building out our model and technology. Being able to talk to people of all these different industries was very useful to us. They’re always there to help in any way that they can.
Dumbstruck was recently granted the prestigious Best Content Marketing Tech Platform Award at Digiday. So far, ENYA has invested $250 000 in the company.
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