Items tagged with 'Startup 2014'

AOA Startup Grant winner Puzzles Bakery & Cafe set to open this month

Puzzles exterior.jpg

Puzzles Bakery & Cafe is on State Street in downtown Schenectady.

One year after winning the AOA Startup Grant contest, Puzzles Bakery and Cafe is about to open.

In addition to serving sandwiches, salads and baked goods, Sara Mae Hickey's bakery and cafe has a mission: Puzzles is a for-profit business with a commitment to employing people with disabilities -- autism, especially.

The cafe was inspired by Sara Mae's experience with her autistic sister. She set out to create a business at which adults with developmental disabilities would have an opportunity for personal growth, a source of income, social interaction, and a sense of purpose.

The last year of renovating the building, creating the space, and preparing to open the business has been a long road with a few unexpected bumps -- including a burglary, and a front loader plowing into the back of the building. Three times.

What has the last year taught her?

"Well, I've learned that opening a business is one of the hardest things that a person can do. I know that about a year ago I thought we were able to open in a month or two -- and here we are almost a year later and we're finally ready to open our doors for real."

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A giant check for the AOA Startup Grant winner

startup2014 giant check

From left to right: Dan Ciampino from Staff Ciampino; Heather Lashway, Berkshire Bank senior VP of product and designs; Sara Mae Hickey from Puzzles Bakery & Cafe; Mary Darcy from AOA; Justin Priddle, Berkshire Bank VP, Relationship Manager; Karen Mason, Berkshire Bank branch manager.

You know what's fun? Giving someone a giant check.

Sara Mae Hickey from Puzzles Bakery & Cafe -- the winner of this year's AOA Startup Grant -- was awarded the giant check for $1,500 today from the sponsors of the contest, Berkshire Bank and Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants. (She also got smaller, actual check so she wouldn't have to try to deposit the giant check -- though, you know, that could be fun, too...)

And there was a bonus prize! Staff Ciampino also awarded Puzzles a year of free consulting and accounting services!

It was great to see Sara Mae and hear about the progress on Puzzles. She said they're currently finishing off some construction work and waiting on some kitchen equipment. The bakery/cafe on State Street in downtown Schenectady is aiming for a soft open this July.

Speaking of bonus prizes... The Albany Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region both stepped in after this year's finals to offer the two runners-up -- Raya's Raw and Cultured and The Rise and Shine Company -- entrepreneurship classes. Thanks to those two organizations!

Thank you to everyone who helped out with this year's contest, including Janet Tanguay at the Chamber for her coaching services, and our judges -- Lissa D'Aquanni from the Community Loan Fund, Blake Hanan from Mealo, and Rhea Drysdale from Outspoken Media. And thank you again to this year's contest sponsors Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants and Berkshire Bank.

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampinoStartup2014 Berkshire Bank in-post ad

The Albany Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce advertises on AOA.

The 2014 AOA Startup Grant final

startup2014 finalists composite

Left to the right: Raya's Raw and Cultured's Raya Ioffe, The Rise and Shine Company's Michael Conlin, Puzzles Bakery and Cafe's Sara Mae Hickey.

The three finalists for the 2014 AOA Startup Grant gathered at the Berkshire Bank on Wolf Road Wednesday evening to make their final presentations to the judges. At stake: a $1,500 grant.

All the finalists made good impressions. But only one could win...

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampinoStartup2014 Berkshire Bank in-post ad

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AOA Startup Grant 2014 finalists

aoa startup grant 2014 app image composite

There were a lot of good entries.

The pool of entries for this year's AOA Startup Grant was very strong. Many of the applications of would have made very fine finalists. But there can only be three, two chosen by crowd voting last week, and one chosen by the Editors.

Here they are...

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampino

Startup2014 Berkshire Bank in-post ad

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Startup grant voting has closed

aoa startup grant 2014 app image compositeJust a quick note that crowd voting for the AOA Startup Grant finalists ended today at 1 pm.

We'll announce the winners -- along with the Editors' pick for the third finalist spot -- on Monday.

Thanks to everyone who took a moment to vote. There were some tough choices this year because the field looks very strong.

The All Over Albany Startup Grant contest is sponsored by sponsored by Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants, with prize money from Berkshire Bank.

Startup grant voting leaderboard so far

startup2014 voting halfway top 5

The top five in the voting as of Wednesday morning.

We're just about halfway through the crowd voting to pick two of the finalists for this year's AOA Startup Grant. The full leaderboard with with vote totals is after the jump. The totals are as of 9:30 Wednesday morning.

A group six or seven entries have started to separate themselves based on vote totals. But there are still about two full days of voting remaining, so there's plenty of time for things to shift. A handful of votes could end up being the difference. Voting closes at 1 pm on Friday, April 11!

Two finalists will be selected via crowd voting. A third will be selected by the Editors. (And, yikes, that is going to be a tough decision.)

This year's group of startup grant entries appears to be very strong. If you haven't done so yet, we encourage to you take a few minutes to browse through the list. There are some interesting ideas.

The All Over Albany Startup Grant contest is sponsored by sponsored by Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants, with prize money from Berkshire Bank.

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampino


Startup2014 Berkshire Bank in-post ad

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Voting now open for the 2014 AOA Startup Grant!

aoa startup grant 2014 app image composite

The entries for the 2014 AOA Startup Grant are now posted online and voting is open!

Three finalists will be chosen to compete for $1,500. Crowd voting will pick two of the finalists, the Editors will pick the third. The finalists will make presentations to a panel of judges that will pick the winner.

This year's group of applicants looks very strong. They range from arts programs to body piercing to food companies to retail to design to apparel. Go have a look, and then vote for your two favorites.

The All Over Albany Startup Grant contest is sponsored by sponsored by Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants, with prize money from Berkshire Bank.

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampino


Startup2014 Berkshire Bank in-post ad

Startup Grant Contest update: The Cheese Traveler

The Cheese Traveler's Eric Paul was a runner up in the first Startup Contest.

There are just a few days left to enter a business idea in the All Over Albany Startup Grant Contest, sponsored by Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants. One winner will receive $1,500 from Berkshire Bank to help start up a new business, or take an existing business to the next level. You should apply. Don't wait! The deadline is Friday.

The Cheese Traveler was a finalist in the second Startup Grant Contest in 2012. Back then cheesemonger Eric Paul was selling artisan and farm cheeses at farmers' markets, but he had a plan to team up with Tilldale Farms to open a storefront.

Today Eric operates The Cheese Traveler, selling artisan cheeses and specialty foods as well as meats from Tilldale, at a shop on Delaware Avenue.

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampino

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Startup Grant Contest update: The Radix Center

Scott Kellogg from the Radix Center, AOA's first startup grant winner, with the aquaculture system at the center in Albany.

There are just two weeks left to enter a business idea in the All Over Albany Startup Grant Contest, sponsored by Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants. One winner will receive $1,500 from Berkshire Bank to help start up a new business, or take an existing business to the next level. You should apply. Don't wait!

The first AOA Startup Grant winner was The Radix Center for Ecological Sustainability in Albany. When they applied for the grant, Scott Kellogg and Stacie Pettigrew had already had a 40-foot greenhouse and were working on raising chickens, rabbits, and vegetables on a plot of land in Albany's Grand Street neighborhood. But the founders of the educational center for urban sustainability pitched an addition to their project -- an aquaculture setup in which they could raise fish, watercress, and water lettuce.

Today Kellogg says they're using the system as a teaching tool and selling some of the resulting products.

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampino

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Startup Grant Contest update: 3 Chicks and a P

Jennifer Rittner-Paniccia

Jennifer Rittner-Paniccia

There are just over two weeks left to enter a business idea in the All Over Albany Startup Grant Contest, sponsored by Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants. One winner will receive $1,500 from Berkshire Bank to help start up a new business, or take an existing business to the next level. You should apply. Don't wait!

Two years ago 3 Chicks and a P, a family-run hummus and tapenade business, took home the $1,500 prize in the Startup Grant Contest. Back then owner Jennifer Rittner was just starting the business with her husband Matt, and their delicious hummus recipes had become farmers' market favorites.

Today you can find their products at The Niskayuna Co-op, Honest Weight, Healthy Living Market, and the Schenectady Greenmarket. They're now preparing to move into larger markets, and Jen says their startup grant is still working for them.

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampino

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Startup Grant Contest update: The Giddy Up Bus

Traci Cornwell Giddy Up Bus

Traci Cornwell's successful Giddy Up Bus was a finalist in the AOA Startup Grant Contest in 2012. (photo: AWASOS Entertainment)

There are just over two weeks left to enter a business idea in the All Over Albany Startup Grant Contest, sponsored by Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants. One winner will receive $1,500 from Berkshire Bank to help start up a new business, or take an existing business to the next level. You should apply. Don't wait!

One of the things we love about the Startup Grant Contest is that not only does it help the winner, it also calls attention to lots of interesting, creative ventures in the Capital Region. Past finalists have gone on to build successful ventures based on the plans they proposed, with a bit of help from the feedback provided by the startup contest judges.

One of those finalists is Traci Cornwell, the entrepreneur behind the Giddy Up Bus, a bus service that runs from Albany to Saratoga and transports people for weddings and special events.

Traci was just 23 years old when she entered the contest and was selected as a finalist. Though she didn't win, she says the feedback from the judges was invaluable. Today she's successfully operating the Giddy Up bus and is considering adding a second bus to the fleet in the fall.

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampino

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AOA Startup Grant Contest 2014

Radix 2012 family portrait.jpg

The first Startup Grant winnter, The Radix Center, used its prize to help build an aquaculture system for raising fish, watercress and water lettuce, and teaching urban sustainability.

There are all kinds of good ideas floating around the Capital Region. We hear about them all the time. And sometimes all a good idea needs to get off the ground is a little push. So, with the help of Berkshire Bank and Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants, we're bringing back the AOA Startup Grant contest.

The idea: Provide $1,500 in cash to help a budding entrepreneur get a new project off the ground, or take an existing small business project to the next level.

It's also an opportunity to get a look at some of the good ideas circulating just below the radar in our region. The 2012 contest helped 3 Chicks and a P fund its hummus and tapenade business. And the first startup contest helped the Radix Center fund an aquaculture setup in which they raise fish, watercress and water lettuce, and help educate the public about urban sustainability.

This year Berkshire Bank is offering a $1,500 startup grant to help get another local micro-enterprise off the ground. And once again, you get to help decide who gets that funding. Or -- you know -- maybe even enter your own idea.

Here's a look at some of the 2011 and 2012 entries.

We're really looking forward to seeing what people come up with this year.

So, here's what we're looking for -- and how to apply...

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampino

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The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

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