AOA Startup Grant 2017 finalists

AOA Startups 2017 applicants poster billboard 2

This is always the hard part of the AOA Startup Grant contest: Narrowing the field down to three entries. Because, as it is every year, there are many projects worthy of a spot in the final.

But we do have to narrow the list. And so we have. Here are the finalists for this year's $2,500 grant...


16-0375 All Over Albany Small Business online Ad_525x80

Saint Rose in-post ad 2016

Nine Pin Cider Works AOA Startup Grant ad

Crowd vote picks

Two of the finalists are selected by the crowd voting this month:

Bard & Baker: Board Game Cafe
Startups2017 Bard and Baker key

Charlotte Guyton's plan to open a board game cafe in Troy rolled up votes on more than 28 percent of ballots cast to take the top spot in the crowd voting.

From Guyton's application:

Bard & Baker will boast an extensive game library by shelves lined with familiar classics and exciting new selections with a staff dedicated to the recommendation and education of board games. Whether you are a hobby gaming enthusiast or just looking for a new form of entertainment for an evening out on the town, the board game café offers an experience catered to each guest's unique desires and technical game level.

Guyton says she'd use the grant money to expand the number of games for the cafe, increasing the selection by more than 100 titles.

Olive and June Floral Co.
Startups2017 Olive and June key

Cassie Vogel's plan to open a counter for her growing floral business inside the Fort Orange General Store in Albany claimed the second crowd-selected spot with votes on almost 21 percent of ballots cast.

From her application:

Olive and June Floral Co's studio space at Fort Orange General Store will be a place for me to design but it will also increase my capacity to take on more brides, to make more deliveries, and connect with more members of the community. When my husband and I moved to the Capital Region we knew that we wanted to invest in Albany and for our businesses to be Albany based; I'm so excited to be able to bring my aesthetic to the community and meet amazing people along the way.

Vogel says she'd use the money to purchase a cooler for flowers and use whatever's left over to help build out the counter.

The editors' pick

After lots of discussion, our pick for the third spot in the final is...

Startups2017 Adirondack Barnwood Salvage key

Adirondack Barnwood Salvage
From the Adirondack Barnwood Salvage application:

ABS has three major goals: We want to become a reliable supplier to both large and small-scale consumers of quality barnwood. We want to be known to barn owners as the company that will leave them a clean pad with a minimum of muss, fuss, and time spent. And we want to do our part to preserve a piece of what we see as an integral part of Upstate New York's history. Many of these barns have stood for over 100 years. They may no longer be useful to their owners as standing structures, but through reclamation and re-purposing at least some part of them can potentially live on for 100 more.

Nicolas Ouimet and Adam Weber's caught our attention for a few reasons:

1. It sounds like a solid business idea, a way to provide a service to both owners of old barns and buyers interested in reclaimed wood, and we want to hear more about the details.
2. We like the concept of finding a way of putting materials to use that might otherwise be scrapped or landfilled.
3. ABS finished third in the crowd voting, which points to enthusiasm for the idea from others.

What's next?

The finalists will be attending a coaching session with John Dion, a professor of marketing at The College of Saint Rose, this week to get some advice on how to organize and present their pitches in the final.

And on October 4, the finalists will make their presentations at Saint Rose to a group of judges who will select the winner. The presentations are open to the public, but space is limited and we ask that you please register to attend.

Thank you

A big thank you to everyone who entered this year's contest. We very much appreciate the time and effort you put into your applications. We wish you luck as you pursue ideas. And please keep us updated!

Thanks also to everyone who read through the applications last week and voted. If you haven't read through the applications yet, you should! There are lot of interesting plans -- and you might find one you'd like to help support or encourage.

Final vote totals

Startups2017 final vote table


The 2017 AOA Startup Grant is made possible with the help of CDPHP, CDTA, the College of Saint Rose, Nine Pin Cider, and the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region.


Bard and Baker--takes me back to the 1980s built on the same board games basis, but with a wine and cheese theme in Commack NY called Tiffany's. There was a small restaurant in Utica with an overly cute name like "wanna play" that serves light meals. Toronto has a coffee shop where you can play and buy games that was a fun visit in the early 2010s. (snakes and latte'). It'll be an interesting addition to the Capital region

This contest is a great idea..but you don't allow for diversity, and you might as well say that you want a product, not a business in development or developing artists.
Also the voting option is not great because it is so hard to find on the page. What's AOA getting out of this?

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