November 2020

A year to remember (or maybe to forget)! Our November newsletter is the last newsletter for 2020. So while the holidays are not yet upon us, best wishes from the HV Venture Hub. And we look forward to 2021, another year to advance our HV entrepreneur ecosystem. We will waste no time in kicking off the new year, with our 2nd Annual HV Entrepreneur Educators Forum (see Events section below), and other new and exciting programs - stay tuned!

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Accel7 and Ulster County Economic Development Alliance (UCEDA) are proud to share our joint program Ulster RESPOND. Together, we are helping small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the county respond to the 'new normal' of the COVID economy. 

 This month we’ve had some fascinating online conversations with pillars in our local community. We hosted Nels Leader of Bread Alone to talk about re-hiring and keeping your team engaged. Nels described how the community within the organization and across Kingston makes the business successful. We discussed how transparency among your team and approaching your business with a 'people first' approach are the two most important things you can do as a CEO, especially in times of crisis. 

The following week we hosted Hélène Lesterlin and Micah Blumenthal of the Good Work Institute to shed light on an extremely important conversation around Racial Justice. GWI is not only workshops and programs, but also a valuable network that connects people and initiatives in an important ecosystem. The most impressive initiative is a series of trainings called Race Forward that you can sign up for here!

Next up we pulled together a group of artists and makers to discuss marketing tactics in a pandemic economy. We discussed why creatives are the best people to begin bridging the gap between the business world and entrepreneurship. 

  • Eileen and Jarlyne of MWP mag bring together womxn of color through interactive storytelling. 
  • Nina is the ED at Three Phase. Three Phase is a space for organizing collaborative art research and workshops designed to stimulate the types of community and dialogue that generate and build new possibilities and outcomes. 
  • Melanie is the CEO of CronArt, partnering with her husband Ryan to run a gallery in New Paltz and creating philanthropic initiatives for the community to participate in. 

For more information on RESPOND and to register for upcoming digital events, visit https://www.ulsterrespond.com/.

For more information, contact Danny Potocki, danny@accel7.org


Investor Spotlight! Jeff Werner is so much more than a Hudson Valley Startup Fund manager. He is also a former small-business owner, audiovisual expert, gastronome to his wife’s gourmet, and rockin’ musician! He combines that diversity of interests and experience into a perspective that drives his work at The Field Group. There, he focused on helping startups and small-business owners  address long-term strategic priorities while filling operational gaps. 

How did you get involved in angel investing?

I pretty much just stumbled upon it without knowing angel investing existed. In 2015, I had worked in the audio/visual industry for 30 years, running my own company for 22 of those years. I knew that my time in the industry was coming to an end. It’s a younger person’s sport. 

As I was thinking about my future, a friend from my high school rock band days approached me with a business idea that he had been developing. We stayed in touch as he built it out a bit. A few months later he and his partner approached me to tell me that they were leaving their full-time jobs to build out this tech company. I said “great! What do you need?” A few weeks later, I had them set up with a furnished office space ready on day one. Soon thereafter, I wrote my first investment check, without fully realizing what I had stepped into.

About 7 months later, as I was in the process of selling my company, I was introduced to The Hudson Valley Startup Fund and attended my first meeting as a guest. “This is a thing?” I asked myself.  Wow! I was brought back to the excitement of entrepreneurship that I had experienced in my college days. I also realized that while my head was buried in the books of my business and my body was climbing up ladders and driving trucks, the greater business environment had moved on without me! (How freakin’ rude! ) I had more to learn. I soon discovered that the Startup Fund was the right place for my business education update.

What's your favorite part of angel investing?

Evolution of the plot lines and the growth of the characters. Humans love stories. I love stories.  No matter how we dress business up in business suits and hip coworking spaces, what we really buy into is a narrative. In this case, a narrative in which the outcome has yet to be written.

Each startup that an angel investor comes across contains the early chapters of the business story. We’re introduced to the book cover, the characters, and the larger mission. In some small way, I love to be a part of each business story. The question for each business that I review is, “How engaging are your early chapters?” and “How compelling are your characters?”

The hope and excitement for a huge exit doesn’t hurt either.

What do you wish you could tell entrepreneurs/founders as they're getting started that might help them when they're seeking angel investment? 

Be prepared, show up, and be human!

Be prepared – have your homework done. Anticipate the challenging questions that you will be asked. Anticipate the document requests of a discovery and due diligence process. You can predict at least 80% of what an angel investor will be asking for. There’s no better way to convey that you have your act together than to say “Sure. I’ll email that right over.” Too many founders keep angel investors waiting too long for information requests that ought to have been readily available. It sends a bad message.

Show up – This is great life advice, even if you’re not a founder, so listen up…

Show up!  This means be where you need to be when you need to be there. This also means responding promptly to voicemails, emails, and texts. Even if you can’t yet directly address the content of a communication, acknowledge the receipt of the message, and acknowledge the person who is communicating. Ghosting and delayed responses send a completely wrong message.

Be human – Don’t try to fake stuff. Sooner or later, we figure that out. Just be real and honest. Share the good and the bad stuff. It makes you human. As humans, we like to know other humans. 

Whether or not the angel chooses to invest, you will always have an ally and cheerleader in business if you remain human.

Tell us a little bit about yourself — family, what you do in your free time, etc. Your “high school band days” mention confirms the rumor that you’re a musician … 

Yes, I am indeed a musician.  While I was running my A/V business, I had little time to play. I ultimately had to stop, so that I could be completely focused in growing my company and serving my clients. Once I was done, I reconnected to my performance roots and have started to play again. I’ve been playing in adult rock band boot camps in Beacon, NY. It’s been an amazing growth experience and fun as hell! My chops have gotten a lot better too! I never thought that I would ever be able to play the music of Steely Dan, Lake Street Dive and Yes, but I have. There’s no greater thrill for me.

I also enjoy quiet time with my amazing wife. We enjoy deep dialogues, bike rides, walks, and time with our dog, cats, and fish. My wife enjoys cooking and baking, I enjoy eating — a perfect match! (Cue the Fiddler music!)

However, all this ties into my larger passion. The exploration of life, the universe and everything! While some of us already know that the answer is 42, we are all still working out the question. 

To that end, I’m now very much exploring a new body of understanding borne out of the gnostic sciences, quantum physics and a new understanding of human biology. The work is called “Global Convergent Logic” and it now enters its eighth year of development.  It’s amazing stuff — look for it on YouTube and elsewhere on the interwebs.

What does the entrepreneurial world look like for you and the Hudson Valley ecosystem in 2021 and beyond?

While risking a stern knock on the door from the metaphor police, I’ll be shepherding a new “Field” of companies in 2021 and beyond. I’ve just onboarded a new company that has reinvented the cookie. I’m also in early negotiations with a company designed to address the long-standing issues with our school systems that have been brought to greater light under Covid circumstances.

As for the region, conversations among myself and other angel investors have been shifting to a more localized investment model. Covid has shown us that we need to take care of our local communities as a first principle. We’re now engaged in a concerted effort to synthesize the traditional high-growth startup accelerator model for a ma & pa “lifestyle” business. We’re trying to figure out the ways to create win-win-win situations for the investors, local businesses, and the public to support the common good.

Entrepreneurs and investors seeking more information on the HV Startup Fund can contact Andrew Schulkind, Managing Member, at info@hvstartupfund.com. 

For more information about HVSF, please visit our website at www.hvstartupfund.com.


Evergreen Accelerator, a strategic initiative of GCSEN Foundation, is a licensed program of gene8tor, a top 15 nationally ranked accelerator out of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Evergreen is a local economy accelerator with customized cohorts of five companies each, resulting from a highly selective process. We bridge a significant social venture gap in money, mentoring, manufacturing and “Main Street” investment.

The accelerator program is an intensive three-month program for a cohort of five companies who will have direct exposure to 100+ mentors and 75+ investors and significant coaching, all designed to accelerate the growth and success of their business.

Evergreen is launching a $20M fund that will support the following themed cohorts: 

  • Water Solutions: cohorts of early stage water solutions companies that have innovative manufactured products. In partnership with Sustainable Hudson Valley, each cohort will bring a group of five high potential startup companies in the water sector to the Hudson Valley to engage with the wealth of water experts and organizational resources here. Each startup will have an innovative water solution based on a manufactured product in one of the following sectors: water infrastructure, water treatment, water and energy, water testing, drinking water, wastewater, wastewater treatment, flooding & drainage, clean environment. 
  • HV Women in Business: cohorts of women owned small businesses with significant growth potential. We are partnering with Hudson Valley Women in Business, the largest community of womxn business owners in the region. 
  • HV Food & Beverage: cohorts of high growth food & beverage small businesses and startups from across the HV and reaching into the food & beverage startup scene of NYC.
  • HV Growth: cohorts of small businesses and startups with significant growth potential from across the HV that do not fit in the three categories above. These companies will show great promise in bringing economic and social good impact to the HV while servicing the world. Cohorts will be composed of companies from a variety of sectors, each showing the potential to change or disrupt their particular fields.

Each of the companies supported through the Evergreen Accelerator will also be encouraged to design their businesses to optimize 4P Social Impact - People, Planet, Place, sustained by Profit, resulting in a designation as a Certified Social Venture. 

We are currently building a coalition of support across hundreds of organizations in the HV, and expect to launch the first cohorts in 2021.

For more information, contact Tony DiMarco, tony@gcsen.com

Service Providers


Impact PR & Communications is an award-winning PR and communications agency with a commitment to creative campaigns that connect people and purpose. Born in the Hudson Valley with a footprint in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, we align business goals with positive outcomes, exert influence and shape reputations, build relationships and tie actions to measurable change. Equal parts witty and gritty, our clients tell us we’re passionate, results-oriented team players who deliver with heart.

Impact PR & Communications was launched more than six years ago with a singular goal: to develop strategic public relations programs that increase clients’ visibility no matter what the target audience. Founder and CEO, Filomena Fanelli, a 22-year industry veteran, is the chief strategist, working with a team of top-notch professionals to assist a diverse range of large and small businesses in delivering crucial media placements, developing individually tailored messages and producing consistent, thoughtfully crafted content that adds up to just the right kind of exposure.

Whether the aim is to reach an existing customer base or a potential one, aid in recruitment and retention or polish the image of a new-to-market enterprise, Impact draws just the right arrows from the PR quiver: speaking engagements for company principals, social media support, bylined articles by those principals to showcase expertise, feature stories and media mentions in local, national or broadcast media, or a combination of all the above. The results are targeted and award-winning. Clients have secured interviews with, and appeared in, outlets that include but are not limited to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Crain’s New York Business, Poughkeepsie Journal, News 12 Westchester, Hudson Valley Magazine and more.

Based in Poughkeepsie, NY, Impact represents a broad array of clients, including Angry Orchard, Astor Services for Children & Families, the Dutchess County SPCA, Hudson Valley Concierge Service, Tompkins Mahopac Bank and Vassar-Warner Home, to name a few, both in and beyond its beloved Hudson Valley, New York, base. Whether a private business, brand or a not-for-profit, they recognize the value of Impact’s big city expertise in a market of any size.

For more information, contact Filomena Fanelli at (845) 462-4979 or filomena@prwithimpact.com. Find us online at www.prwithimpact.com and follow us on social media, @prwithimpact.

Before Silicon Valley, The HV

By Donald J. Delaney

Ice, fire and clay transforms Manhattan into New York City


The Great Fire of 1835 ignited an urgent need for a fireproof building material. Overnight, the economic engine of Manhattan burned to the ground on December 17th. Fifty-two acres of commercial wooden structures were destroyed. Also, the Great Fire exposed an urgent need for a municipal water supply.

Social entrepreneurship in action-- New Yorkers’ rallied to repair and rebuild. Their commitment to the common good transcended self-interest. The mission: to find a safe, inexpensive, and sustainable building material solution.


An entrepreneurial solution lay waiting along the banks of the Hudson River- clay for brickmaking. Unlimited supplies of low-cost clay awaited record demand in Manhattan. The Hudson Valley brickmaking industry was born.

Meeting the massive demand for bricks to:

  1. Replace and build a new Financial District and 500+ burned structures
  2. Create a municipal water supply – Croton Reservoir & Aqueduct
  3. Create the New York Fire Department


Clay, the flour in brickmaking, predates humans in the Hudson Valley. Ice Age glacier cutting tools transformed rock mountains into endless pockets of clay. That clay built 1800's homes and shops in the lower Valley. James Wood pioneered a business around site-harvested hand-formed bricks in 1801.

Hudson River ‘Clay Rush’

Before the California Gold Rush (1848–1855), there was the Hudson Valley ‘clay rush’. Nature, over the course of the ice age created clay pits along the riverside. Clay deposits became a valuable real estate asset. A real estate asset the Hudson River Brick Manufacturing Co. monetized by buying up clay pit deeds and leasing the land to dozens of brick makers.

In the early 1800’s, brick homes were built next to clay pockets. The clay excavated from ancient deposits were handmade into bricks roughly measuring 8×3×2 inches, and air dried, a 6,000-year-old process, first used in Egypt.


Isaac Green was the first pioneer entrepreneur to try his hand at building a brick startup. He leased a clay-rich site in Verplanck from Joshua T. Jones in 1883. Success! Green prospered. Competitive startups moved in, and important civic leaders joined in, like Schuyler Hamilton.

In 1884, Verplanck Point was the startup hub for the Hudson Valley brickyard industry. In one year, Verplack cycled through start-up and scale-up in record time. Ten yards employed 425 men and manufactured 400,000 bricks daily. The Hudson Valley's first manufacturing industry went into growth mode.

1885 brought the Hudson Valley brick operators three ‘wicked’ opportunities for growth:

  • Hudson Valley economic growth, especially for fire-safe brick commercial structures
  • The Great Fire of 1885
  • Building the Croton Aqueduct

By the end of the 19th century, the Hudson Valley was the world leader in producing bricks - one billion bricks produced each year. The Hudson River made it possible to ship and deliver direct to New York City; a big cost and time saver. These advantages helped NYC grow at the fastest rate in the nation.

The brick industry built the economy and population of the Hudson Valley. 120 brickyards employed 10,000 workers, which created new riverside communities. Riverside villages became towns, and towns became bustling cities. Croton, Haverstraw, Beacon, Kingston and Brickyard Hill (owned by Matthew Vassar) flourished. It would take over 100 years and IBM to exceed the brickyard's regional economic impact.


  • Kiln fired-hardened bricks, to withstand compression on multi-storied buildings.
  • Standard sizes eased the building design process.
  • Addition of anthracite coal to the brick mix for marine applications (e.g., D & H Canal).
  • Branding of individual bricks, to identify the source, value, use, and price.
  • Richard VerValen’s VerValen Machine exploded brick production in 1852 by a factor of 100X.

Source: Haverstraw Brick Museum

Disruption II

The last Hudson Valley brickyard closed in 1979. Newer, more precise, and cheaper building materials replaced brick. Aluminum, vinyl, and faux brick siding disrupted real Hudson Valley bricks. Also, rail transport out competed the Hudson River.

Entrepreneurship Innovation II

Fairview Block & Supply is a second and third cycle innovator in building materials. Arthur ‘Art’ Ackert, entrepreneur and owner, displaced bricks with manufactured cinder blocks. Next came manufacturing pre-cast, custom cement foundations as his third innovation. The walls are cast-to-order, trucked to the job site, and set into position by crane, all in a few days. A Poughkeepsie, Hudson Valley enterprise succeeding and thriving on innovation.

This Before the Silicon Valley, the Hudson Valley blog offers a 400-year narrative journey honoring the icons of entrepreneurship and their impact on invention, innovation, and commercialization in the Hudson Valley. 

Don Delaney

Contact welcome: Donald J. Delaney, HV Entrepreneurship Historian & Blog Writer for the HV Venture Hub at SUNY New Paltz. You can reach Don at don@dondelaney.com


© Donald J. Delaney 2021


  • November 10 (online): Mentorship+ - Thirty-minute mentoring sessions, customized to fit your schedule, available all day. Workshop on forming entities and founder agreements. Workshop on Social Media + SEO + SEM. https://www.capitalfoundation.org/mentorship
  • November 12 (Online): Unleashed 2020, 10am-1pm, hosted by Upstate Venture Connect, see Schedule 
  • November 17 (Online): Distinguished Speaker Series (7- 8pm), Building a Better Future by Supporting Academic Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Rodney D Priestley, Vice Dean for Innovation at Princeton University, and entrepreneur.
  • December 3 (online) - Mentorship+ - Thirty-minute mentoring sessions, customized to fit your schedule, available all day. Workshop on intellectual property basics.  https://www.capitalfoundation.org/mentorship
  • December 9 (online) - Upstate Capital Association Annual Awards Celebration. This year-end celebration highlights the most interesting deals and most active dealmakers across New York State in seed, venture, private equity and corporate finance.
  • January 7 (Online): 2nd Annual HV Entrepreneur Educators’ Forum, 9:00am-12:30pm, hosted by HV Venture Hub, SUNY New Paltz School of Business, covering 10 topics that will engage entrepreneur educators in higher education. For more information, contact Lori Nutting, nuttingl@newpaltz.edu


  •  HV Mentors Program Manager, HV Venture Hub at SUNY New Paltz School of Business

Comments? Email Tony DiMarco at dimarcoa@newpaltz.edu