In a move that could increase funding available for Long Island startups, Great Neck-based investment firm BDS Capital said Thursday that it is creating a venture capital fund of $10 million to $30 million to invest in early-stage companies.
The fund, called BDS Venture Fund, would focus primarily on investing in technology companies, some of which could be on Long Island, said BDS Capital founder Brian Rubenstein. He said the firm started marketing the new fund to investors this week.
"It was time to take the next step, which was to raise my own venture fund," said Rubenstein, who has 13 years of experience in venture capital from his work at Great Neck-based investment firm Wheatley Partners. "For Long Island specifically, I think we're at the beginning stages of venture coming back. . . . I think we're going to start seeing a lot more opportunities."
The dearth of venture capital has long been cited as a hindrance to the growth of new companies locally. The nonprofit Accelerate Long Island was set up last year to encourage the creation of high-tech businesses -- and therefore jobs -- by connecting local laboratories working on promising research with able entrepreneurs.
Mark Lesko, executive director of Accelerate, has continued to cite the lack of venture funds -- from within Long Island and elsewhere -- as a key challenge he hopes to address.
"Anyone who's willing to start a new venture capital fund that's partly focused on Long Island is great news for Long Island startups," he said, adding that he already knows several startups that would be interested in pitching to BDS' new fund.
The BDS Venture Fund, which will be open to new investors until the end of the year, already has $6 million in commitments from Rubenstein's family and friends. Rubenstein's father, Barry -- a well-known Long Island investor -- is a partner at Wheatley and will also be on the board of experts for BDS' new fund.
Currently, BDS Venture has three tech companies -- from previous investments Brian Rubenstein has made -- in its portfolio, though all are based outside of New York.
Rubenstein, 39, a Long Island native, said he has already looked at some local companies as investments, pointing to some of the start-ups housed in the business incubator and co-working space at LaunchPad Long Island in Mineola as potentials.