Entrepreneurial hot spots throughout the nation are sprouting business “accelerators” to speed the growth of early-stage companies. Today, the Westchester County Association announces that the Blueprint Accelerator Network, L.L.C., has taken root in Westchester, paving the way to attract innovative businesses with the potential to create new jobs in the county...
|Bill Mooney, president of the Westchester County Association announces the creation of 'The $150 Million Game Changer, The Blueprint Accelerator Network,' at a press conference in White Plains earlier today.|
Now, The Blueprint for Westchester is organizing a revolutionary Blueprint Accelerator Network to spur entrepreneurial growth and create the business giants of tomorrow. “We are combining Westchester’s prime business resources -- seed financing, top professional services, office space, and mentors – into one package to pave a pathway to success for early-stage companies with great potential to grow,” notes William V. Cuddy, Jr., Chairman of The Blueprint for Westchester initiative. “We’re putting into practice a cutting edge economic development strategy.”
Nicholas Puro, Co-Chair of The Blueprint for Westchester’s Entrepreneurial Work Group which is spearheading the launch of the Blueprint Accelerator Network, emphasizes that “This is a defining moment in the future of Westchester County. Westchester now can compete with entrepreneurial epicenters such as Silicon Valley, the Research Triangle, and Boston. We will be able to attract, grow, and retain innovative businesses that will create jobs, jobs, and more jobs.” Accepted companies will commit to remain in Westchester following their graduation from the Accelerator.
The Blueprint Accelerator Network already has attracted $175 million in investment. Provident Bank, The Westchester Bank, Mahopac National Bank, M&T Bank, Greater Hudson Bank, and Community Mutual Savings Bank have committed a total of $150 million in debt financing. An additional $50 million will come from in-kind contributions and private sector investors who have expressed interest in the initiative.
The Blueprint Accelerator Network will provide early-stage companies access the rich intellectual capital of Westchester’s colleges and universities. “Westchester’s higher education institutions have a trove of resources to fast track the growth of promising businesses,” explains Dr. Kimberly Cline, President of Mercy College and Chair of the WCA Higher Education Committee. “Our pipeline of talented interns and potential employees, as well research and technology transfer opportunities, are valuable assets for business.”
Private sector power
The Blueprint Accelerator Network is funded by the private sector, and capital will be raised by the Westchester County Association, a not-for-profit organization. The Accelerator has been organized as a limited liability company that will be governed by a governance committee of business leaders. A selection committee will establish criteria for qualification and will include members with knowledge and experience in venture capital, business acceleration and innovative industries.
“We will focus on attracting companies that are enjoying some success and have more than an idea” explains Mr. Puro. He notes that the Blueprint Accelerator Network is unique. “Unlike traditional ‘brick and mortar’ incubators, we’re not limited to one building. Instead we will pair with early-stage companies with the best space and services for their needs.”
Partners of the Business Accelerator Network will offer accepted companies a variety of services. To date, they include legal services provided by Bleakley Platt & Schmidt, L.L.P., and Cuddy & Feder, L.L.P. Accounting services will be supplied by O'Connor Davies L.L.P., marketing and public relations services will come from Harrison Edwards, Inc., and technology services will be provided by Compufit. Normandy Real Estate Partners, Reckson, a division of SL Green Realty Corp., George Comfort & Sons, and RPW Group, are among several real estate companies that will offer commercial space. Many more to come.
Accelerators vs. incubators
Unlike small business incubators, which offer centralized office space and shared services to startup companies, business accelerators operate as “boot camps” for early-stage companies to prepare them to seek venture capital financing. The hope is that they will become the next Apple Computer, Facebook, or Google. Only a few companies are accepted into an accelerator through a highly selective process. Accelerators provide seed capital, access to legal, accounting, and marketing services, and partnerships with universities, and opportunities to work with established businesses in the early-stage company’s field. Once a company reaches the next stage of growth, it “graduates” and a new early-stage startup takes its place.
Implementation of the Blueprint Accelerator Network is on a fast track itself. The legal entity will be formed and finalized by the end of Q1 2012. Candidate and selection criteria, as well as selecting members for the candidate selection committee, will be completed by the end of Q2 2012. The first call for business plans will occur in Q3 2012, when finalists will be identified and invited into the program. A second round of selections is scheduled to occur in Q4 2012.