“How Do I Fund My Business?” Meetup: A Recap

Thanks so much to everyone who joined us for the second ITAC + NYDesigns Urban Manufacturing Meetup last week!

On October 29th, a diverse group of founders and entrepreneurs gathered in our lounge to hear from five experts about a variety of different ways to finance their businesses. We learned how to pursue capital everywhere from hardware VCs to alternative lenders to industrial partnerships, heard useful tips for maximizing cash flow, and chowed down on some delicious empanadas.

Here’s a quick rundown of the evening:

Sumeet Shah from Brand Foundry Ventures taught us how to win over VCs. Some of his tips: be cocky, not arrogant; have a great team by your side; be prepared to talk about your buildout and scale-up strategies; and blow ’em away with a tight pitch you could recite in your sleep. He also boosted our confidence when he made it clear that you don’t necessarily need to be innovative to be successful. You just need to know your “X factor”: How do you stand out? Scroll down for a clip from Sumeet’s presentation.

John Sinnott from Cornell Center for Materials Research (who won the title for Speaker with the Longest Commute) walked us through all the resources the CCMR has to offer to startups, including a cash match program, an industrial collaboration program, and training. He also gave us a peek into the “national gem” that is the CCMR Shared Facilities lab, which is open to anyone who wants to test and prototype new materials in a high-tech environment and offers a $500 to first-time users (transmission electron microscope, anyone?).

Jun Shimada, the CEO and Founder of ThinkEco, told us the story of how ThinkEco went from building rudimentary models out of plastic bins from Bed Bath & Beyond to becoming the award-winning IoT success story it is today. A challenge that ThinkEco faced — and that many manufacturing-based startups face — is figuring out how to bridge the cash gap between procuring components from suppliers and getting paid by your customers. The key, he said, was to establish great relationships with everyone on his supply chain and then negotiate with them for more flexible financial terms. And how do you do that? Get your suppliers excited about what you’re doing! Scroll down for a clip from Jun’s presentation.

Bryan Doxford from New York Business Development Corporation gave it to us straight about how to approach lenders – and when you need to fire them. His advice? Your lender should be your partner and your advocate. If your lender is not being clear with you, find another one. Also: know your financials, know the difference between what you want and what your business really needs, and of course, don’t forget about the Bank of Mom and Dad.

John Abrashkin from Honeybee Robotics took us on a historical journey of Honeybee’s road to success — a road composed of many different types of financing over many years, including friends and family, government grants (SBIR), and strategic partnerships and commercial research. He left us with a critical piece of advice: when you’re in the concept generation phase, take a step back and think about the cost you’re building in to the final project. “Concept generation bakes in 60% of lifetime product costs — before any prototypes are built!”

Thanks to our partners at ITAC for a great event and delicious food! Keep an eye on our Meetup.com page for future events.


A few photos from the evening:


And videos:

Sumeet Shah (Brand Foundry) on preparing to approach a VC

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Jun Shimada (ThinkEco) on prototypes, pilots, and cash flow

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Design Symposium at Industry City Tue May 20th

On the last day of NYCxDESIGN at Industry City, come catch NYDesigns’ Nepal Asatthawasi and other panelists in a design symposium bringing together key members of NYC’s design community to discuss the state – and the future – of NYCxDESIGN and the design industry in NYC.


The design forum runs from 2:15pm to 5pm on Tuesday, May 20th and the closing reception – which involves audience participation in a pinata attack with real cash money – runs from 5pm to 6pm.


Industry City is in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. www.industrycity.com/design

How we did it

It’s up! Our installation at Industry City officially opened on Saturday May 10th. Thanks to our talented team, we conceptualized, produced and installed this show in only 15 DAYS. That just goes to show you what can be done when you believe in a mission.


NYDesigns’ installation at Industry City challenges visitors to consider the issue of diversity in NYC’s design industries. We have highlighted key demographic information of both the national and metropolitan design-related labor markets. This data, presented as a series of colorful infographics, is presented alongside portraits of entrepreneurs and students selected from the NYDesigns community. All are participants in one of two separate initiatives: the NYDesigns Business Incubator or the AAS degree program in Industrial Design at LaGuardia Community College.The individuals represented on the installation wall are not identified as either students or entrepreneurs, but a collection of individuals at different stages of a design career. This is the diversity NYDesigns hopes to influence in the design industries so that the face of design reflects the vibrant mix and variety of contemporary NYC.


Thanks to WantedDesign for the opportunity.



NYDesigns at Industry City May 10-20

NYDesigns will be exhibiting at WantedDesign’s Industry City site from May 10-20, 2014.


The main floor of Industry City will be the stage for a wide range of multidisciplinary design events all open to the public.


NYDesigns doesn’t design, make or sell any products, but if you know us, you know that we work hard to design and implement programs that have visible, everyday impacts on the livelihoods of New York’s residents and businesses. What we’re launching at Industry City is a campaign to raise awareness about the need for more diversity in design. We believe this is important because the design industry should be representative of NYC’s vibrant diversity.


We’re tackling this issue in two distinct ways:


1. By maximizing the growth potential of small businesses: Our business incubator program remains a functionally and physically supportive environment for designers, technologists, makers and fabricators who need the space, equipment and business guidance to move along a trajectory of sustainable growth

2. By supporting affordable, attainable education: specifically, the newly launched Industrial Design AAS (Associate’s degree) at CUNY LaGuardia, which paves the way for a four-year design degree which would be more financially accessible to wider communities of young adults and their families.


There is another way: come play Miami Vice foosball with us and we’ll tell you what’s what.


Interested in learning more? Drop by Industry City between May 10 and May 20 to see us or come to the opening party on Saturday, May 10 (RSVP here).