• BLUEPRINT Accelerator Network Graduates First Company

  • FEBRUARY 10, 2015

  • PlanGuru Enjoys Solid Growth with Help of WCA Accelerator to Spark Innovation Economy in Westchester

  • Graduation Ceremony Held at 2015 Kickoff Meeting of Accelerate Westchester, WCA’s Entrepreneurial Networking Group
    At a special celebration Thursday evening, the Westchester County Association (WCA) feted PlanGuru, the first graduate of its BLUEPRINT Accelerator Network, and the business leaders who partner with the WCA to provide benefits to Accelerator network member companies. The Accelerator is a key component of the WCA’s BLUEPRINT for Westchester initiative to spark an Innovation Economy in Westchester. The Accelerator now includes over a dozen early stage companies and offers members access to private office space—rent-free for the first year—complimentary professional services, and access to financing and mentoring. Accelerator companies commit to remaining in Westchester for at least five years after their “graduation.”
    Since joining the BLUEPRINT Accelerator Network in 2013, PlanGuru, a business budgeting and forecasting software company, has increase their staff from five employees to 11 employees (including international sales representatives); increased its customer base by 350 percent; launched two new products, PlanGuru Analytics and PlanGuru Startup; and created a new board of directors. They have also developed comprehensive education, tools, and resources to accounting and business advisory firms to provide PlanGuru’s “Outsourced CFO” package to their clients. This level of growth has led to the company meeting with investors for their Series B financing.

    “We would not be at this stage of growth without the support of the BLUEPRINT for Westchester,” said Christian Wielage, CEO, PlanGuru, based in White Plains. “The WCA provided us with the infrastructure and support we needed to take our company to the next level.”

    The BLUEPRINT Accelerator Network has created opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors, noted Marissa Brett, WCA president. “The entrepreneurial ecosystem we have created is starting to bear fruit,” said Brett. “Our goal with the Accelerator was to stimulate innovation in a new way—and we have been successful in attracting a diverse group of companies, providing access to connections, mentoring, and resources they need to thrive, and leading the way for today’s startups to become tomorrow’s established enterprises.”

    As an Accelerator member, PlanGuru secured office space from Reckson, a Division of SL Green, obtained accounting services from Citrin Cooperman, sought legal advice from Bleakely, Platt & Schmidt, LLP, and public relations advice from Harrison Edwards, Inc.
    —all free or discounted during their two-year incubation period in the Accelerator.

    The graduation celebration took place at the 2015 kickoff meeting of the WCA’s networking group for entrepreneurs, Accelerate Westchester, held at Reckson’s headquarters in White Plains. Launched last year to offer a forum for startups to share tips, address common challenges, and meet like-minded innovators, the group now includes some 100 entrepreneurs in Westchester and the region. Following the ceremony, a panel of legal experts addressed critical issues in IP law for startups. Speakers included Elizabeth Barnhard, Leason Ellis; Theresa O’Rourke Nugent, Nugent & Smith LLP; Donna Frosco, Law Offices of Donna Frosco, Esq.; and Jess Collen, Collen IP.

    “It’s fitting to hold our celebration in White Plains, which is revitalizing its downtown district with mixed use developments including affordable housing, shopping, and recreation, which will attract more young companies and professionals,” said Brett. “Westchester County is transforming itself by developing urban centers, bringing new jobs and businesses, and attracting more young professionals. This is the kind of economic development we had in mind when developing the BLUEPRINT for Westchester, and our Accelerator Network. It’s all coming together in Westchester.”

    The current member companies of the BLUEPRINT Accelerator Network are: Amrita Health Foods, producers of plant-based, allergy-friendly energy bars; Databean, a clinical research organization; Lola Granola Bar, an organic granola bar company; Mobile Health One, a digital healthcare company; Nuvita, an online employee wellness program; Satisfi, a mobile customer service app company; the accounting firm Sternbach & Rose, CPA, PC; W@tercooler, a unique co-working space; Vanguard Custom Software, a technology company; Video SEO Pro, a video production, video marketing, and video SEO services agency, and the Yonkers Brewing Co., a craft brewery. 

    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 Regeneron, 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.

    Private Sector Drives the Effort

    The BLUEPRINT Accelerator Network combines Westchester’s prime business resources—office space, access to debt and seed financing, top professional services, and mentorship—into one attractive package.
    Accepted companies must commit to remain in Westchester following their “graduation” from the Accelerator. In exchange, the companies receive commercial space that matches their needs, and a variety of business-critical services including accounting/financial advice, legal, marketing and public relations, technology, and access to debt and seed capital.

    Interested parties should apply to the BLUEPRINT Accelerator Network by visiting www.blueprintaccelerator.com

    BLUEPRINT Accelerator partners are: Alianza Services, LLC, BioMed Realty, Bleakley Platt & Schmidt, LLP, Celestial Capital, Citrin Cooperman, Co-Communications, Community Capital New York, CMIT Solutions, CMS Bank, Compufit, Cuddy & Feder, LLP, DelBello Donnellan Weingarten Wise and Wiederkehr LLP, George Comfort and Sons, GHP Office Realty, Greater Hudson Bank, Harrison Edwards PR, Inc, Journal News Media Group, Key Bank, NA, Mack-Cali Realty Corporation, , Maier, Markey and Justic LLP, M & T Bank, Meridian Risk Management, Normandy Real Estate Partners, O’Connor Davies LLP, Reckson, a Division of SL Green Realty Corp., RPW Group, SCORE Westchester, Silverman Realty, Small Business Development Center, Sterling National Bank, SUNY Purchase / START-UP NY, Webster Bank, The Westchester Bank, Tompkins Mahopac Bank, Women's Enterprise Development Center (WEDC), Westchester County Business Journal, Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, LLP.

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