“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 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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