Alpha Loft – “Ask-the-Expert” – July 2014
NH Entrepreneurship Alive & Well – Moving Fast!
By Mark Kaplan, CEO – Alpha Loft
Across New Hampshire, thriving innovation based businesses are growing fast, creating new technologies, and hiring people into well paying jobs. Most would agree, however, that the state needs more companies like these to create a vibrant economy that brings with it opportunity. These high growth companies generate large numbers of jobs, and create wealth. A vibrant NH economy is dependent upon actions and policies that support the creation of these kinds of companies.
Successfully achieving this objective will be due to the efforts of many in our entrepreneurial ecosystem (e-ecosystem), and fortunately the pieces are coming together.
At Alpha Loft (formerly abiHUB) we’ve extended our reach from the seacoast to Manchester, aiming to play a leading role in the e-ecosystem. We’re acting as a key collaborator providing support and resources to entrepreneurs, improving their prospects for successfully launching and scaling innovation based companies. Our work runs the gamut from simply promoting entrepreneurship to working closely with start-ups to address their business models and plans. Much of it is done in one-on-one consultations, but our small staff cannot accomplish the breadth and depth of this work alone.
Alpha Loft leverages existing resources in the state, particularly the experience and expertise of successful entrepreneurs and service providers. Bringing to bear this talent and significant base of knowledge prepares our new entrepreneurs to meet and overcome the challenges every startup enterprise faces. In addition to bringing experience to the table, Alpha Loft runs workshops and education programs, and will soon have an accelerator program to meet entrepreneurs’ needs.
Recently Alpha Loft has co-sponsored three business plan competitions and offered workshops and consultations to entrepreneur applicants, including; the UNH Holloway Competition, StartUp Challenge with MYPN, and StartUp 2014 in Rochester. Now we’re partnering with the New Hampshire High Tech Council on TechOut, a competition with $100,000 of capital available for the top three companies. Applications are currently being accepted at www.alphaloft.org or www.NHHTC.org.
Alpha Loft is just one piece of the e-ecosystem.
Partner UNH and recent Party at Arms sponsor SNHU, as well as other institutions want to commercialize more research, foster student and faculty entrepreneurship, and develop internships and job opportunities for students. More opportunities in NH will keep graduates living and working here.
Larger, growing companies recognize that a stronger economy with more innovation-based companies makes the state a better place to live and work. This enhances their ability to attract and retain high quality employees who might otherwise gravitate to larger metropolitan areas. Dyn has long been a leading proponent of this view and major sponsor of Alpha Loft. Others agree with this view including Newforma, and Scribe, and still others are taking a closer look.
Law firms, marketing agencies, web development companies, and more realize the successful startup companies of today are the big company clients of tomorrow. These professionals donate valuable pro bono time for startup consultations and workshops, as well as funding for Alpha Loft. Firms such as Cook Little, Nixon Peabody, Howe Riley Howe, and GYK Antler are among our collaborators.
Alpha Loft’s efforts would not be complete if we didn’t also work to improve capital availability in the state, as it is vital to many high growth startups. We’re nurturing relationships with angels and venture capital firms including Borealis Ventures and Wasabi Ventures here in NH, as well as larger firms elsewhere such as Northbridge and Insight Ventures. Those relationships can provide the firms opportunities for deal flow, and our entrepreneurs with warm introductions.
Live Free and Start
The state’s “Live Free and Start” initiative, under the leadership of Liz Gray who recently joined the NH Business Finance Authority under Jack Donovan, is focused on creating an environment that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship. With an advisory council Liz will look at the impact of existing laws and regulations on startup companies, opportunities to create incentives and support for startups, and work with others in the e-ecosystem on our mutual goals.
This article only scratches the surface of Alpha Loft activities and our collaboration with others. There is similar work going on throughout the state. While we often think of apparent overnight successes among startups, the reality is that most successes take years to develop. The same is true of our NH e-ecosystem. I invite you to join our Alpha Loft efforts by making your commitment to a vibrant NH economy with many high growth innovation based companies creating opportunity for all.
About the Author:
Mark Kaplan, CEO of Alpha Loft has thirty years of executive, financial, venture capital, and investment industry experience. During the past fifteen years he has been working in entrepreneurial endeavors, much of the time in venture capital. Before coming to NH in March 2013 he was actively engaged in building Maine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in the roles of board member, advisor, and mentor to organizations and entrepreneurs. Since becoming CEO of the NH-ICC he worked to transform it into Alpha Loft of today, a platform supporting and providing resources to entrepreneurs across NH improving their prospects for successfully launching and scaling innovation-based businesses.