Mineola business incubator readies for Feb. launch
A new initiative to assist Long Island entrepreneurs is nearly ready for takeoff.
LaunchPad Long Island, a project of local investors Andrew Hazen and Rich Foster, is a "co-working" office where the inhabitants -- start-up companies at different stages of growth -- share work space with the aim of fostering creativity and collaboration.
Such office spaces, which are popping up across the United States, work to promote the expansion of entrepreneurial communities through a social work environment.
Hazen said more than a dozen start-ups have expressed interest in LaunchPad, which is set to open Feb. 13. He said he wants to recruit tech companies, but any early- stage company that wants to grow is welcome to apply for a space. "If you're starting a company and want to hang out with smart and creative people, LaunchPad is where you want to be," he said.
Hazen, 39, of Jericho, a lawyer by trade, started an Internet marketing company at an incubator space in 2001 -- which later sold for "over eight figures."
PROMOTERS OF INNOVATION
He and Foster said they have committed at least $250,000 to LaunchPad LI Ventures -- a fund to invest in promising early-stage companies that apply to LaunchPad.
Foster, 23, of New Hyde Park, has been investing in companies for the last three years, and said he wants to expand his holdings in tech businesses. An entrepreneur at 15, he began by creating and selling clocks shaped like sports equipment and later expanded into the construction business.
LaunchPad follows a number of initiatives to promote innovation and entrepreneurship on the Island. Business leaders have pushed for such measures as a way to jump-start job creation.
Accelerate Long Island, an organization created to connect regional entrepreneurs with researchers in order to commercialize new technology, began last September.
A Hicksville space similar to LaunchPad, Thought Box I, opened in late 2012 -- an effort spearheaded by Mark Fasciano, managing director of venture capital firm Canrock Ventures. While Hazen and Foster will consider taking an equity position in companies that move into LaunchPad, Fasciano's firm has an ownership stake in all the companies that work at Thought Box.
Mark Lesko, executive director of Accelerate, said spaces like LaunchPad will contribute to building the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Long Island. "I think it's precisely what the region needs," he said.
A two-story white brick building with a basement, LaunchPad is steps away from the Mineola train station and a short walk from the downtown area. That proximity to transportation will help attract entrepreneurs and investors from New York City, and the location near an urban center will help build a social community around LaunchPad, Hazen said.
The building will also have amenities such as conference rooms, event space, a deli and a basement lounge with games, plasma TVs and snacks.
A HUB FOR ENTREPRENEURS
Bryan Daddio, founder of TurboRoster.com, a social media-connected registration platform for members of fitness clubs, said he is considering applying for LaunchPad space for his three-person company. He said he wants to leverage the skills of other tech companies that may be in LaunchPad, such as those focused on Web design or marketing, in helping grow his own business.
"I think there's cross-pollination that can occur with multiple businesses there," he said.
Companies can use space at LaunchPad for $25 a day, or buy a $250 monthly pass. Private offices are also available for monthly rates from $650 to $1,500.
Mike Litman, co-founder of DedicatedEmails.com, will be applying for a spot. Litman has been working out of his home and cafes on Long Island while his brother runs a five-person office in New Jersey for the business, which produces personal health and finance email newsletters.
"I was looking for a way to . . . be around other people that are building businesses," Litman said. "You don't really get to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs from a location like Starbucks."
AT A GLANCE
Name. LaunchPad Long Island.
Founders. Andrew Hazen and Rich Foster.
Location. 55 Mineola Blvd., Mineola.
Purpose. To provide "co-working" space for start-ups.
Expected opening. Feb. 13.