About Astia

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New York Entrepreneur Week

Special Report from Jennifer Hill, Vice President, Astia

This past week, New York celebrated the largest entrepreneurship movement throughout the state: New York Entrepreneur Week (NYEW). Within the heart of the Big Apple, hundreds crammed into classrooms at Columbia Business School (and thousands watched live online) to hear from NYC’s leading entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, industry leaders, technology press and more.

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to moderate the NYEW Town Hall Meeting: Entrepreneurship Policy: Where Are We? Where Are We Going? How Will Entrepreneurship Revitalize the United States?

Joining me as panelists were:
Adam Oliveri, Managing Director at SecondMarket (an online marketplace for illiquid assets)
• Luis Antonio Marquez, Director General of the Mexican Private Equity Association (over 45 funds and $12B under management)
JiNan Glasgow, Founder & CEO of Neopatents (patent research and analytics company)

The lively discussion touched on a variety of topics, including how to restore liquidity to the U.S. markets, prominent sources of funding outside of the traditional venture capital / angel investment /high net worth individuals, and the role of tax credits. Yet some of the more interesting ideas grew from issues the panelists are tackling right now within their businesses. Here are a few highlights.

(1) Unlocking the value of intellectual property can be one the strongest ways to trigger innovation.
JiNan Glasgow, founder and CEO of Neopatents, believes that everyone has the power to create – and her work globally has focused on transforming ideas into reality and creating positive impact from them. Creating commercially valuable assets from ideas through intellectual property and entrepreneurial activity is the number one way to impact the economy. Patents and trademarks are the most highly valued intellectual property types, whose value can be leveraged if businesses know how to do it right. Strategic development requires answers, not just data, to inform investment and business decision-making. JiNan works with companies of all sizes – from start-ups to publicly traded companies – to leverage patent information to stimulate and accelerate innovation and to monetize the value of intellectual property to fundraise and grow the enterprise.

JiNan shared that many large public company have dozens of patents “sitting on the shelf” which can be used to test and develop new business lines, especially in an economic downturn when excess resources can be inexpensively deployed in new ways and start-up costs continue to reduce. Companies often find that that strength of such intellectual property secures investment from trusted sources which then enables a new company to grow on its own, often freed from the traditional timeline and pace of the founding company. Such opportunities often create further investment to combine efforts with emerging companies who have additional R&D, which accounts for a variety of early-stage acquisitions.

(2) Innovation will continue to prosper if illiquid markets can be accessed.
Adam Oliveri, Managing Director at SecondMarket, shared with the panel the benefits of secondary markets. The steady decline in IPO activity over the last 10 years and the dramatic rise and then sudden fall of M&A activity has left a market void for company exits attractive to investors. Increasing regulatory and administrative burdens also encourage companies to stay private longer, which challenges liquidity outlets. SecondMarket exists to give buyers and sellers a private secure marketplace to effect transactions -- subject to state and federal securities laws -- while providing a robust set of data, analytics and valuation tools instantly accessible online.

(3) What is the most surprising trend affecting cross-border transactions between the United States and Mexico?
Luis Antonio Marquez, Director General of the Mexican Private Equity Association, commented that U.S. venture capital firms have been investing south of the border both directly into private equity and venture capital funds and directly within Mexican enterprises. Mexico’s strong innovation and technology programs allow foreign investors to receive last mile grants when partnering with Mexican manufacturers, further stimulating investment. Mexico also encourages commercialization of pre-approved intellectual property – such as patents -- and will use foreign investment, technology and human resources to do so. For aspiring entrepreneurs, some of the strongest innovation can actually be found within the government and its research programs, which allow people to commercialize its pre-approved patents. Last and mostly interestingly, Mr. Marquez reminded us that the U.S. enjoys a Hispanic population of greater than 40 million people which represent the same GDP as Mexico. Savvy states such as Arizona and New Mexico are creating Hispanic Entrepreneurship Programs that provide training, resources, and capital to new businesses within the respective states and across the border leveraging Mexican commercial resources. As the segment of the population continues to grow, we can expect the cross-border development between the U.S. and Mexico to equally prosper.

To learn more about Astia on the East Coast, contact jhill@astia.org


  1. Jennifer:

    Thank you very much for this feature- it was a pleasure having you and Astia intimately involved throguhout the week. As an overview for the readers:

    New York Entrepreneur Week is about celebrating entrepreneurship and the transformational role we play in building economies. There's real power in coming together to talk about business, to hear other perspectives, and to connect with people who have bold ideas and personal stories about how entrepreneurship transforms our world.

    For entrepreneurship to become the powerful force it can be in driving the economy, we need to break down barriers and build platforms that connect us. We need to support each other, help build each other's visions, and leverage our collective strengths.

    Right now is a critical time in our economy, and the stage is ripe for a fundamental change in how businesses are founded, built and scaled. The truth is that unstable times create incredible opportunities.

    But we're facing our own challenge. Former Sovier President Mikhail Gorbachev once said, "It would be naive to think that the problems plaguing mankind today can be solved with means and methods which were applied or seemd to work in the past."

    There's no doubt that entrepreneurship innovates, changes and grows business. But if we keep doing what we did before, we're going to get what we always got- and if there's one message we should all have loud and clear by not, it's that we're all accountable for the economic challenges we're facing.

    When we look at what's happening in New York, there's an important lesson to be learned. 89% of all venture capital funds residing in New York are invested outside of the state. THIS is a red flag and signals a critical dislocation in our ecosystem. If we really want to have an impact, and harness the power we possess, we have to eliminate the silos and fragmentation we all experience within the entrepreneurial sector.

    Best regards,

    Gary Whitehill
    Founder, New York Entrepreneur Week

  2. Gary,
    Right on and well articulated. Astia is committed to the New York innovation ecosystem and looks forward to collaborating with New York Entrepreneur Week again next year.

    At Astia, we too believe that the old ways of doing business need to be re-thought. We see the need for diversity in start-up teams to achieve real innovation, better returns for investors, and growth in the GDP (see my earlier blogs on these fronts). The next iteration of the start-up must have men AND women working together - not in separate business silos as in the past.

    For this and many more reasons, we are thrilled to be working with you, Gary. Well done on another successful NYEW!

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