Items tagged with 'business'
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.
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...
The Record and Saratogian will be getting paywalls for their websites, part of an "All-Access print-digital subscription initiative" by their parent company at 75 dailies across the country. John Paton -- the CEO of Digital First Media, which manages the company that owns the papers -- announced the plan in a blog post Monday. Saratogian managing editor Barbara Lombardo confirmed that both the Saratogian and the Record are part of the plan.
It's not really news that newspapers have been struggling to find their financial footing as the media world transitions from print to digital. And it sounds like DFM -- which pulled its papers through bankruptcy and has been attempting to aggressively restructure its business -- is making this move somewhat grudgingly. A clip from Paton's post:
After a lot research by our team, we believe an All-Access print-digital subscription initiative is necessary to buy us that proverbial gas in the tank [to make the transition].With the rise of digital and the fall of print, we're at the point where we can launch a working All-Access subscription model.
Let's be clear, paid digital subscriptions are not a long-term strategy. They don't transform anything; they tweak. At best, they are a short-term tactic. I have said that often enough in the past.
But it's a tactic that will help us now.
In the post, Paton says the configuration will be different in each market, and will include new offerings. Jonathan Cooper, a DFM VP, tells us in an email that timing and details for each market are still to come. (Here's the setup for its paper in Denver.)
In the Capital Region, the Daily Gazette has a paywall that restricts access to subscribers for all but a few stories and features. The Post-Star's paywall allows people to access 10 articles over the course of a month without paying, much in the same way the New York Times paywall operates. And the Albany Business Review restricts some of its content to subscribers.
On Tuesday Capitalize Albany be down at Ten Eyck Plaza interviewing people and collecting stories and ideas for improving downtown Albany. It's the launch of a twelve month public/private collaboration called Impact Downtown Albany.
Word started circulating this week that an Ideal Food Basket supermarket is set to open on Broadway in Menands sometime in the next month. It'll be the first location for the Long Island-based chain, which already has stores downstate, as well as in Connecticut and Massachusetts. [Biz Review]
We'd never heard of Ideal Food Basket, and after some poking around -- and admittedly without stepping into one -- we get the impression it's a pretty average "neighborhood" style supermarket, maybe with slant toward being a discount market. The thing that did stand out, though: Where it's decided to set up here.
The Ideal Food Basket is going in to the former Save-A-Lot space at 100 Broadway in Menands. That spot is notable because it's located near areas in North Albany and Arbor Hill that are designated as "food deserts" by the federal government. What's that mean? Well, in the simplest sense, it means there isn't a supermarket within a 1-mile (or half-mile) radius of those neighborhoods (the whole definition is a bit more involved). A map we created last year about Capital Region supermarket geographic distribution might make it clearer.
The chain's parent organization has apparently decided to focus in part on opening stores in such areas. Said the company's CEO to the Times Union: "We get into areas where most organizations don't go into ... We go into underserved areas. We hire only from the neighborhood." Just this past month it opened a store in Nassau County on Long Island that was hailed as bringing a supermarket to an area with a "critical food-access issue." [TU] [Newsday]
For all the booming that's happened on the local supermarket scene in the last few years, the development has almost entirely focused on high-end products (Fresh Market, Whole Foods) and/or areas that already had other supermarket choices (ShopRite). It's interesting to see a company looking at areas not currently served as a business opportunity.
The clothing design and manufacturing company 'e ko logic is known in the fashion world and sells its pieces in shops from France to Japan.
And it's located right here in the Capital Region -- in Troy -- and has been for the last decade. Though that wasn't necessarily easily to tell. Why? We'll let owner/designer Kathleen Tesnakis explain:
"Before I was in a very funky old building, on the second floor, that you weren't sure you wanted to walk up into." And beyond that funkiness, 'e ko logic didn't have a retail space.
That situation changes starting today when 'e ko logic formally opens its new retail and manufacturing space in the Frear Building. The clothing company's presence there is part of an ongoing transformation of the downtown Troy landmark back towards its roots.
I am looking for an experienced web developer to help me launch an online business, someone who is highly proficient in HTML to hit the ground running on my site.
It sounds like Anonymous is maybe looking for a developer who has experience setting up an online shop or e-commerce system, so that might narrow the range a bit.
And, of course, a developer doesn't necessarily have to be local -- but it's nice to be able to meet up and talk to face-to-face. (We do get the sense Anon is looking for someone in the area.)
Have a web developer or firm to suggest? Please share.
Today's a notable day for Capital Region book nerds because it's the opening of the Saratoga Springs location of the Northshire Bookstore. The 9,000-square-foot store on Broadway in the heart of downtown is just the second location for the much-admired Manchester, Vermont independent.
The last decade or so has been tough on book publishers and bookstores. The big national chain stores have either fallen (Borders) or are teetering (Barnes & Noble). The rise of e-readers has cut into sales of hard-copy books. And Amazon and Apple have been engaged in various attempts to control the pricing of books.
Given all that, we were curious why -- and how -- someone would open a new bookstore. So we stopped by the Saratoga Northshire location on Friday to get a peek at the new store, and talk with co-owner Chris Morrow about why they picked Saratoga Springs, how they made it happen, e-readers, and the future of the bookstore.
The new Bombers in Troy opens this Wednesday. The opening is notable not only because it's an extension of Matt Baumgartner and company's popular local burrito bar brand, but also because it's the chain's first franchise location.
Monday night there was a preview party, so we stopped by to get a look at the new place, and talk with Matt and the owners of the Troy location for a few minutes.
At the corner of 4th and Fulton in downtown Troy, in what was formerly an OTB space on the ground floor of a parking garage, is now a workshop with metal and wood working machinery, racks of tools and parts, 3-D scanners and printers, and biotech equipment.
But organizers see it as part of something even bigger.
Thoroughly updated at 1 pm
Vic Christopher -- who owns The Confectionery with his wife, Heather LaVine -- says they plan to turn a small building in the back of the 207 Broadway property into a private party space, along with another bathroom and a garden. It would also provide a second entrance for the "landlocked" Confectionery building. The goal is to have the expansion finished by mid summer.
Christopher says they've been turning down large groups because the just didn't have the space for them. The expansion will allow them to host groups of 20-50 people without compromising the cozy feel of the current space.
The Confectionery expansion is part of a larger plan for 207 Broadway.
Over at the video game industry site Polygon there's a long backstory on Vicarious Visions, the game studio in Menands that's now part of the giant Activision. The story has a bunch of interesting bits, including this one about a precarious point in the company's development:
At RPI's incubator, the [Guha and Karthik Bala] met with then-CEO of MapInfo, Mike Marvin. The executive was a star in the region, having led a company that made millions of dollars in revenue -- a number that seemed impossibly large to the brothers at the time.
Marvin liked the Balas and saw potential in a video game business. He agreed to work with them on one condition: they keep the business near Albany.
A video game developer in Albany? Albany lacked both a talent pool and a customer base, and it wasn't an area anyone would associate with video games. But at that point, what other option did they have? Besides, the city had grown on them.
They agreed to Marvin's deal.
There's also a bit about Tony Hawk colliding with complex math.
That's Shat as in William Shatner, and oetry as in poetry. Of course.
From the app's blurbage:
Shatoetry is an iPhone app that lets you arrange words - into statements, comments, messages, sentences, phrases, haiku, poetry, or even just random words... with this amazing payoff: whatever you arrange, you'll be able to hear William Shatner perform it for you.
And, of course, because it's William Shatner, there is the opportunity... for dramatic... pauses:
Though the dramatic pause has been a part of human communication for eternity, who else has mastered it like the man himself?
For more dramatic delivery to your Shatism, Shatoetry lets you add pauses between words with Space Bubbles.
Drop a Space Bubble into the Compose Field by simply giving the "Space" button a tap.
Drag it to wherever you want the pause to be... unheard ;)
1st Playable CEO Tobi Saulnier tells the Biz Review the app is part of her company experimenting with the iPhone app market. (1st Playable has done a lot of work developing games for platforms like the Nintendo DS.)
Oh, and his take on the app: it's "as different and as unique as a sunrise." [LAT]
The app is $2.99.
By the way: 1st Playable's office in Troy is gorgeous -- definitely worth a gawk if you ever have the chance.
Earlier on AOA: Kick Buttowski, launched from Troy
A lot can happen in a year.
That's something we were reminded of recently when we paid another visit to The Radix Center.
You might remember that the urban sustainability center won the AOA/Sunmark Startup contest in 2011. They used the $1,500 prize toward building an aquaculture system, in which they raise fish, watercress, and water lettuce.
Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew created the The Radix Center as an educational tool, to show people how to create a more sustainable urban environment by doing things like collecting rainwater, composting, reclaiming soil, and even operating their own greenhouses or aquacultures.
Last year we saw how things were just starting out in their 40 foot greenhouse in Albany's South End. This past Friday we stopped by again and -- well -- we'll let the pictures tell the story.
At first glance, the old diner car still looks like the Miss Albany -- well, a scrubbed and polished version of the Miss Albany. The booths are the same - the classic diner floors, counters and tile. But the walls are the first give-away that you're not in the Miss Albany anymore.
The famous signs warning patrons about unruly children have been replaced by classic old photos. They're from the families of Matt Baumgartner and his business partners, Jimmy and Demetra Vann. Sciortino's is named for Baumgartner's mother's family -- specifically for his grandparents, Frank and Rachel Sciortino, whose pictures occupy a prominent space behind the front counter.
The latest in Baumgartner's string of Capital Region business ventures -- and his continuing effort to bring life into to Albany's warehouse district -- opens on Wednesday.
Here's a look inside...
On a [recent] trip to Newport I learned that one of the most popular touring and charter boats in Newport, RI is the 80-foot schooner, Adirondack II [above], built by Scarano Boat Building of Albany.
Over the last 35 years Scarano has built dozens of classic sailing and power vessels right on the Hudson on the southern tip of the port of Albany. They are perhaps most famous for the three mast 178 foot Friendship of Salem that was built for the National Park Service.
They seem to be pretty well respected in the field and their boats can be found all over the country, including New York, Newport, Boston, Key West, Orcas Island, and the Chesapeake Bay.
My girlfriend and I had the pleasure of going out the Adirondack II. The captain, as expected, gave a little bit of history on the boat, and while doing so was quoted as saying "The boat was made in Albany, NY of all places!"
It's Friday afternoon...
Let's hear it for giant checks and hummus!
Yesterday the winner of this year's AOA/Sunmark Startup Grant -- 3 Chicks and a P, a small business in Rotterdam that makes hummus, bean dips, and tapenades -- got its prize money from the people at Sunmark.
The giant check came with $1,500 actual dollars (
in a smaller check via direct deposit) that 3 Chicks owner Jennifer Ritner-Paniccia and her husband Matthew say they'll use for nutritional labeling for some of their newer flavors. They're hoping the labeling will help get their products onto supermarket shelves. 3 Chicks currently sells at local farmers' markets and co-ops.
Everyone celebrated the giant check with broccoli and hummus.
We'll be checking back with 3 Chicks and a P in a few months to see how they're doing.
Yesterday Jerry Jennings and a group of downtown Albany business people stood in Albany City Hall to reassure everyone that the Pearl Street area is on the edge of a major change that will turn the city's downtown into a 24/7 community.
You probably know the reason for this affirmation session: the comment from Ralph Spillenger -- the owner of the Bayou Cafe and the soon-to-be-closed Jillian's -- that his business had failed, in part, because people are afraid to go downtown because of crime.
So, who's right? This situation is complicated because so much of it depends on perception.
But there are ways to make it clearer.
HAF Executive Director, Susan Holland says they've been pitched everything from a Christian recording company to a goth club -- but, for various reasons, the ideas didn't work out.
Then, not long ago, she heard from a company called Ravens Head Brewing. Its pitch: to turn the old Gothic church into the flagship location for its brewery, and a restaurant/events venue.
The Dark Sky weather app -- from Troy-based developers Adam Grossman and Jack Turner (Jackadam) -- is now available in the iTunes Store. The app aims to provide people with very specific weather forecasts for the near future based on location.
The question Dark Sky tries to answer is not "Will it rain tomorrow?" but rather "Will it be raining here during the next hour?" It can help determine if there's enough time for a quick bike ride before a thunderstorm, or how long you have might have wait before you can walk from your office to your car without an umbrella. It can also just satisfy the curiosity of bored meteorology nerds.
Speaking of meteorology nerds, we've been playing around with the app for the last day or so, and it's been kind of fun -- if not always accurate. The radar pictures are super clear and easy to read. And it shows whether the precipitation expected will be heavy, medium or mild. The no-precipitation predictions have been pretty good, and it did signal accurately a few times that rain was approaching. It failed to predict one light sprinkling of rain. (To be fair, we were in a moving car -- and Adam Grossman says that kind of light precipitation can be difficult to detect. And in general, this kind of stuff is harder than it looks.)
If the weather isn't interesting where you are, you can watch storms anywhere in the country.
Dark Sky is available for newer versions of the iPhone (4 and 4s), iPod Touch, and iPad. It's $3.99.
We're looking forward to playing with it more.
It's quiet inside the Fuller Road t-shirt factory, but the place is busy. Machines
are carouseling black, long-sleeved sweatshirts as workers oversee the printing and folding and stacking. Thirteen thousand shirts were printed and shipped before the first week of March had ended.
MerchNow makes shirts that bands sell to support themselves on tour. Owners Kate and Steve Reddy employ 95 people, offering a lunch program supplied from local farms and health insurance completely paid for by the company. Their mission is to create a business that sustains people and not just the bottom line.
Yes, punk rock and yoga.
All Good Bakers is ensconced in its new DelSo home and ready to open its doors.
Nick and Britin Foster and their team will start serving up breads, soups, salads, sandwiches and other goodies starting this Wednesday morning at 8 am.
Here's a peek inside the new place...
Inside a sprawling, former cannonball factory in Hudson, 17 deeply creative souls mill about quietly creating magic.
Their daily mission? To make Etsy safe for humanity. Well, that and hula-hooping.
Working at Etsy Hudson may be as close to internet superherodom as mere mortals can come.
It also might just be the best job on the planet.
Almost every guy thinks about it at one time or another, says Matthew Jager. The "manly dream" of owning a bar. And that's how it all started out.
Matthew, who teaches at The College of Saint Rose's business school, and his buddy John Curtin, a leadership trainer and former English teacher, were hanging out at the Albany Pump Station, having a couple of drinks, when one of them said, "Hey, you know what we should do? We should open a bar!" And the other one said, "Yeah!"
Eighteen months and $300,000 later, they do not own a bar.
Instead, they own a distillery -- The Albany Distilling Company -- in a building right next door to the Albany Pump Station. A few months from now they're hoping to put their white whiskey on the shelves of bars and restaurants around the region.
Have they ever made whiskey before? No. But this little hitch doesn't seem to worry them.
When is the last time you bought a book at a bookstore?
Not a virtual bookstore -- an actual, brick and mortar, physical space where you browse and read and walk around and maybe even talk with clerks or other readers bookstore? A place like Market Block, or The Book House --- or heck, even Barnes & Noble.
With Borders shutting down, the ubiquity of Amazon and the rise of the e-reader, we've been curious about -- OK, baffled by-- how independent bookstores manage to keep going.
Susan Novotny, owner of The Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza and Market Block Books in Troy gets asked about this all the time.
And some of her answers kind of surprised us.