LI startup Buncee wins national entrepreneur award
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The fledgling Riverhead company, which developed a website and mobile app that allows users to create greeting cards, business presentations and the like to share on social media channels, was named an Internet Category Winner at the TiEcon 2013 summit in Santa Clara, Calif. The company was one of 50 businesses honored by TiEcon out of 1,142 applicants from 24 countries.
Buncee founder and chief executive Marie Arturi said TiEcon invited Buncee to make a presentation to be considered for an award. “We were sort of surprised” and happy to be recognized, she said.
The idea for Buncee, founded in 2010, came to Arturi because she wanted a convenient and personal approach to writing thank-you notes to doctors and researchers she met through the nonprofit she runs, the Daniella Maria Arturi Foundation. The organization is dedicated to finding a cure for the rare blood disorder Diamond-Blackfan anemia, and is named after Arturi’s daughter — who died 18 years ago as a result of treatment complications from the disease.
Although initially built to express gratitude, Buncee has expanded beyond that to become a more comprehensive “tool where you can aggregate any form of multimedia and share it,” Arturi said. For example, she plans to market Buncee’s tools to teachers and students to build and share creative PowerPoints.
“They have a really cool product, but getting a consumer to do something new is challenging,” said David Calone, CEO of Setauket-based venture capital fund Jove Equity Partners. Calone has advised Arturi on the trajectory of her company. “My advice is to focus on people who could really need your tool — like businesses and schools.”
Arturi, whose background is in marketing, sales and IT consulting, hired a team in Argentina to build the initial prototype for Buncee, which is entirely self-funded. She has since been able to recruit a team of eight employees — half of whom are recent graduates of Stony Brook University — and open an office in Manhattan.
Buncee is currently in beta, or test mode, and has about 11,000 users. Arturi said she hopes to officially launch the website this summer, when the basic service will continue to be free, but users will have the option to pay for additional features.
Arturi hasn’t actively sought potential investors, but hopes to do so soon.
“I’ve chatted with different people, I’m just sort of hoping for the right partner, a person with the right Buncee vision,” she said.