When asked to cover the GasPedal Feast for Starving Entrepreneurs, I eagerly accepted, as I was literally a "starving entrepreneur"--I live and work out of a 1973 VW Bus! When GasPedal president Andy Sernovitz began speaking his words raised my battered (and hungry) soul (the usual entrepreneurial roller-coaster ride). He spoke of the undying resilience of entrepreneurs to ignore all odds, to turn a blind eye to "reason," to shrug off the endless ridicule of our friends and family--all in the name of executing our vision. Yes, we are living in a tough investment climate, and the next year is going to be rough. But, he said, these are the times that make a J.P. Morgan or a Rockefeller. It is in times like this, blisteringly tough and full of panic, that the opportunity to make the real BIG money lies.
I met Ben Appen, CEO of Alkindi (http://www.alkindi.com), a movie-recommendation service and chatted with Stephen Gilberg, publisher and CEO of HappyHours.com (http://www.HappyHours.com). Debbie Garrett, CEO of Grooming Men (http://www.groomingmen.com), could make it on the strength of her positive attitude and an interesting product and business model. I also ran into Patrick Dori, president of Beach 'N' Billboard (http://www.beachnbillboard.com). Not even billboards in the sand could prepare me for perhaps the most likely candidate for billionaire in the room that night--Stephanie Schwab, CEO of Erotigo (http://www.erotigo.com). Like icing on a cake (to complement the ice cream bars), a handful of savvy, early-stage investors were smattered throughout the party. I first ran into Bruce Ackerman, president of One Touch (http://www.onetouchcorp.com). His business is booming, and he figured it's his time now to help out some struggling start-ups. Then I ran into Jo Rosler, COO of Angel Society (http://www.angelsociety.com), a provider of information, communication and transactional services for early-stage private equity investors, early-stage companies and professional business service providers. Finally (saving the nicest treat for last), I had a chance to meet Ben Goodman, manager of NYNMA's highly-praised Angel Investor Program (http://www.angel.nynma.org). The NYNMA Angel Investors Program matches promising start-up companies with experienced Angel investors to facilitate the growth of New York's new media industry. About half of the companies that present at their monthly breakfast receive seed funding of up to $2,000,000.
Kudos to Andy Sernovitz and GasPedal for putting together an evening that made me proud to be an entrepreneur. GasPedal truly understands what it's like to work in the trenches.