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Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurship in NH’

Tune In: Three Podcasts Highlight New Hampshire’s Startup/Entrepreneur Scenes

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016



Alpha Loft ~ Manchester

New Hampshire’s startup and entrepreneurial communities are getting some attention of late. Just a couple of weeks ago, this article highlighted the Granite State as having the ‘most beautiful’ tech scenes in the country.

This week, the Global Startup Movement features New Hampshire in not one, not two, but three  podcasts. In the first, Mark Kaplan, CEO of Alpha Loft in Manchester, talks about the state’s startup ecosystem, followed by an interview with Mike Decelle, recently appointed as dean at the University of New Hampshire’s Manchester campus, who talks about entrepreneurship and the opportunities afforded here in the state. Kyle York of Dyn rounds out the trifecta with a look at the emergence of the Silicon millyard.

All are worth a listen as you slide back into the post-Labor Day work week.

Lorna Colquhoun
Communications Director
Division of Economic Development



5 Questions with Mark Kaplan, Alpha Loft

Friday, August 21st, 2015


It’s a buzz word, it’s a value proposition and it’s been appropriated to describe every kind of product or service you can imagine. But what does it truly mean to be innovative? And how do you create an environment where innovation becomes an economic engine for a state like New Hampshire?

To explore these ideas, we interviewed Mark Kaplan*, CEO of Alpha Loft. Alpha Loft is dedicated to accelerating the development of early-stage, scalable businesses, commercializing the intellectual capital developed at the University of New Hampshire and other leading educational institutions and creating sustainable employment opportunities in the state.

Mark has 30 years of executive, financial, venture capital and investment industry experience. During the past 15 years, he worked in entrepreneurial endeavors, including as a venture capitalist with Maine-based CEI Ventures. He was actively engaged in building Maine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and now brings his decades of expertise to bear on the New Hampshire innovation economy.

Mark Kaplan ~ Alpha Loft

Mark Kaplan ~ Alpha Loft

1. Alpha Loft has evolved in recent years, making the transition from ‘incubator’ to ‘accelerator.’ How would you define the difference between those two concepts?

The transformation to become the organization now known as Alpha Loft goes beyond a transition between the two concepts, so I’d like to provide a brief history.

Alpha Loft resulted from the combination of three entities; the NH-ICC on the Seacoast, the abi Innovation Hub in Manchester and a co-working space named Alpha Loft in Portsmouth. Each separately was trying to stimulate entrepreneurship in New Hampshire, creating high growth companies and jobs, and improving the economy in the state.

The combination created a single platform operating with a focused mission across the southern part of the state. It brought together networks of people and companies to support this focused effort under a single organization, which can better leverage the state’s resources.

Today, Alpha Loft has attributes of an incubator, while also now running Accelerate NH, an accelerator program. The attributes of incubation include locations where entrepreneurs work, educational workshops where they can learn from experts, peer learning opportunities, advisors on staff, a strong network of people they can meet and learn from, networking events, and a supportive community.

Alpha Loft also works with UNH and other institutions of higher education to assist in commercializing intellectual property and research, and in bringing an entrepreneurial culture to students and faculty. In addition, we’ve focused resources on the accelerator program to take a small group of companies through an intensive three-month program of education and mentorship to dramatically accelerate their growth.

2. Your organization strives to support innovation-based businesses. What makes a business innovation-based?

An innovation-based company is one that applies technology, intellectual property, creativity, or new business models in delivering new ideas, products, and services to its market. It may be one that utilizes technology in a new way, develops new technology for the market, or creates a method of meeting market demand using a new method or approach.

3. You kicked off 2015 with an inaugural Accelerate NH class. What excited you about the roster of companies chosen by the panel of judges to participate in this groundbreaking program?

First of all, we were thrilled to receive many more applications to Accelerate NH than we anticipated, and all the more so because the quality of the applications was so high. It indicates to us there is a lot of startup activity going on and that accelerator programs are in demand.

We’re excited about this first class of Accelerate NH, which has a range of companies and entrepreneurs. We’ve got two companies developing products that include a hardware aspect, as well as software. We have a team of students from UNH who’ve already had success getting significant traffic to a page they’ve been running for a few years and are preparing to build on that foundation. We have a team that includes parents and high school students solving a problem they saw in the elementary school in their town and are now rolling out a product to solve it.

In summary, we’ve got a group of talented innovators seeking to build successful companies who recognize the benefits that will be derived from the accelerator program. It looks like a real win for everyone involved and we believe some successful growing companies will result.

4. You also run the 2015 NH Startup Challenge, in partnership with the Manchester YPN. How was the challenge different this year for applicants than it was last year?

We’re pleased to once again be partnering with MYPN on the NH Startup Challenge. MYPN manages the competition and judging process. Alpha Loft supports the competition by providing space for some of the events, advice and guidance on the competition mechanics, and with an in-kind donation of membership for the contest winner.

MYPN decided to change the competition in 2015 by adding a people’s choice award, giving the audience at the final round the opportunity to choose one of the presenters to receive $3,500 in prize money (awarded to BevNow, an app for ordering refreshments while on a golf course). This is in addition to the substantial prize package awarded to one company selected by the judging panel (VidFall, a daily-deals-style service).

5. In your opinion, why is New Hampshire the ideal place for entrepreneurs to start, launch, and scale their businesses?

New Hampshire is a great place for entrepreneurs for three primary reasons:

– It is a wonderful place to live and offers a very high quality of life;

– New Hampshire has a terrific network of highly experienced entrepreneurs, service providers, professionals and others with whom it is easy to connect and who are very willing to get engaged to help entrepreneurs just starting up;

– In southern New Hampshire, entrepreneurs can have all that and are still proximate to the active entrepreneurial ecosystem in neighboring Massachusetts, which means having the best of both worlds.

* Mark was a recent guest on nhEconomy.com’s monthly radio show on WTPL-FM107.7. Hear his conversation with Division of Economic Development Director Carmen Lorentz.

Five Questions with Michael Tentnowski, Enterprise Center at Plymouth

Friday, April 10th, 2015


At first glance, it might appear that the southern cities of New Hampshire are the primary hotbeds of entrepreneurial activity in the Granite State. But you’ll find the blood of the start-up culture running through the veins of every county – and it’s catching the attention of entrepreneurs across state lines, too.

To learn more about some of the unique opportunities for start-ups north of Concord, we interviewed Michael Tentnowski, executive director of the Enterprise Center at Plymouth, a business incubator/accelerator connected with Plymouth State University. The ECP supports entrepreneurs, small business owners, and overall economic development in central New Hampshire by providing services including leased space, state-of-the art conferencing facilities, mentoring, professional services, educational resources and networking opportunities.

Prior to joining ECP, Michael consulted with business and industry primarily in the high tech arena.  He has been involved with business development for start-up companies for over twenty years, and has expertise in commercializing defense technologies, promoting renewable energy initiatives, and in entrepreneurial ventures. Michael is also a professor in the College of Business Administration at PSU.

What was the landscape like for entrepreneurs and start-up companies in your area, prior to the opening of the ECP? 

I think that the framework of entrepreneurial activity was present prior to the ECP opening its doors, but now like-minded individuals have a gathering place and a one-stop shop for all types of business assistance.  By offering seminars, workshops, access to professorial expertise, student internships and partner organization like the SBDC and SCORE networks, the ECP filled a void in the knowledge transfer arena.

How is the ECP making an impact in Plymouth and the surrounding communities? 

     We not only impact Plymouth proper, but the entire main service area of Belknap, Carol, Coos and Grafton Counties (and beyond).  We do this by offering business educational opportunities throughout the region, by assisting entrepreneurs from surrounding states (primarily Vermont and Massachusetts) and by promoting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Hampshire.

We have partnered with the other incubator programs in the New Hampshire Business Incubation Network, which provides networking and access to assets at other locations throughout the state.  The direct impact to the Plymouth community is 37 jobs created, $5,625,000 in revenue generated by ECP companies (2014) and 26 internships for students, five of which turned into full time employment for those students.  This helps to keep young people in the State by providing high quality, well-paying jobs.

What kinds of businesses are best served by incubators like the ECP? 

New Hampshire business incubators serve different sectors, whereas some are considered “mixed use.”  The ECP is a mixed-use facility that primarily houses software developers and other Internet services, a material science manufacturer (office space only), iPhone repair service (student-owned) and an array of consultants in high-tech fields.

Rather than what is the best company for an incubator program, I say who is best served by one.  This means: are they coachable, do they need the services offered, and do they have a plan to employ people in the area with business growth potential, following structured business acumen.

What are the goals of the ECP for 2015 and beyond? 

To empower entrepreneurs to succeed during the difficult stages of a start-up, and to assist existing companies in accelerating their growth by mentoring, match-making, and receiving advice from experts in various disciplines.  Ultimately, the ECP’s success is defined by the success of the ventures being spun out of the incubator program.

What events/programs do you have coming up in the near future? 

April 14 – How to Apply for a Business Loan (Littleton)

April 21 – Small Business Legal Series (Plymouth)

May 5 – Planning for Growth; What’s Next (Plymouth)

May 7 – Start and Grow Your Business (Plymouth)

May 12 – Start and Grow Your Business (Littleton)

May 14 – How to Apply for a Business Loan (Laconia)

May 19 – Small Business Legal Series (Plymouth)


For more information and to register for these programs, click here.