2 LI startups get $3.7M in venture funding

Jared Katz, left, and Andrew Pollack, are founders

Jared Katz, left, and Andrew Pollack, are founders of an online marketing firm that runs a network of websites offering pet services and merchandise, raised $2 million from a Chicago venture capital firm. They are shown here in October 2013. Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

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Venture capital made a modest return to Long Island this fall as two online startups snagged $3.7 million in funding.

The investments closed during the fourth quarter, ending a three-month dry spell for venture capital in Nassau and Suffolk counties, according to a report published Tuesday by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.

"The Long Island region is not completely forgotten by VCs, but it continues to underperform in attracting its fair share of investment," said David Silverman, a PwC managing partner.

All told, 123 companies in the New York metropolitan area netted more than $1.2 billion in funding during October, November and December -- a 49 percent jump from the same period a year earlier.

Business leaders have long hoped that Long Island's universities and research laboratories would spark a boom in high-tech startups. Yet, investors have been slow to fund local tech companies, leaving Nassau and Suffolk trailing other regions in venture capital.

The recent Long Island deals include Chicago-based Hard Eight Venture Capital's $2-million investment in FamilyPet, a pet-focused online marketing firm in Great Neck.

The company, founded in 2003, has 10 employees and runs a network of sites for pet owners, including Coupaw.com and Petsitting.com.

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The other local investment was a $1.7-million deal closed by eGifter, a Huntington-based online startup to buy and send electronic gift cards.

The financing came from several Long Island investors, including Robert Brill of Jericho-based Newlight Management, and Russell M. Artzt, co-founder of software giant CA Technologies.

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