NH Division of Economic Development
YouTube Facebook Twitter Twitter
Why New Hampshire Move Start Grow About Us

Posts Tagged ‘Live Free and Start’

Student Innovation: Meet Jeff Johansen, Co-Founder of MakeIt 3D

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Live Free and Start is New Hampshire’s one-stop business connection for innovators and entrepreneurs. We are featuring its Innovator series to introduce you to some of the very cool things Granite Staters – who may well be your neighbors – are doing. -Ed.


Jeff Johansen ~ Co-Founder of MakeIt 3D

Please provide your 30-second pitch about your company.

MakeIt 3D is a platform for 3D printing services of all types. It links consumers with hobbyists, makers, designers and inventors. The material extrusion market is growing rapidly, involving people of all skill levels, which in turn is creating the need for skillful services such as design work or prototyping. With this need comes the need for an all inclusive platform to aid these people of all skill levels. MakeIt 3D will allow users to buy and sell digital model files and contract out printing and 3D modeling work. MakeIt 3D’s will have a forum that acts as a multi-faceted tool for all of it’s users, allowing them to review designers, printers and makers. MakeIt 3D’s main goal is to help users share knowledge and learn about the world of material extrusion technology, and make some money while doing it.

What was the inspiration behind your company idea?

Growing up, technology always inspired me. From my early years learning my Windows 98 operating system, I knew that tech was my way of life. A couple of years ago, I learned about 3D printers and was totally captivated by the technology. Soon after, with the availability of printers in my school, I quickly learned that I am absolutely terrible at modeling and design work. My total lack of artistic ability has served as the inspiration behind MakeIt 3D.

What’s the best advice you have received?

The best advice I have ever received came from Ron Emrick, director of engineering innovation at Wasabi Ventures. “Make it work, make it work better”.

It’s a piece of advice that came out of my internship with Wasabi this past summer but I’ve found myself using it in every thing that I do. This piece of advice is very important for me, personally. I always look towards the end picture: make everything work perfectly, look pretty, and function effortlessly all right away. This method isn’t a great choice for building a startup.

“Make it work.” Make everything functional, there can be some minor bugs or flaws, things definitely will not look pretty, and there may be some effort required to use the app, but it works. This half of the phrase expresses the importance of a first draft, of creating a baseline. Then, “Make it work better”. After the functional baseline is completed, all the slick animations, pretty formatting and cool features are built. Through all of Ron’s advice, beyond this phrase, I have found that I’m learning more and more of what it means to become an entrepreneur and build a successful startup.

What was the most challenging part of developing and pitching your startup idea and how did you overcome it?

To date, the most challenging part of developing my startup idea was bringing a more innovative solution to the material extrusion market. It’s easy to copy someone else’s ideas, but how do you make yours new and different? Overcoming this challenge doesn’t exactly happen overnight, in fact it’s a long process. Successful companies are always innovating, creating new, attractive products and solutions. Personally, I have started to attack this problem by talking to as many people as I can about my idea. Soon, I will be working on MakeIt 3D as part of the Commercialization Academy, which will help me to add high-value patented technology to make my startup more innovative. This challenge, albeit long, has proved to be quite fun and I can’t wait to keep attacking it.

What are your thoughts now about starting your own company, either now or later?

Since last fall, when I took a Wasabi Ventures Academy course with TK Kuegler, I have wanted to build tech startups. The way he portrayed his life, his work and his business showed me exactly what I want to do. I’m starting early, as a freshman in college, so that I can have my feet firmly planted on the ground by the time I graduate. This will allow me to spend the rest of my life building companies. TK’s inspiration has sparked within me a passion for startups!

What does the future look like for your company?

Imminently, I will be working on MakeIt 3D through the Wasabi Ventures Commercialization Academy. I am incredibly excited to be given the opportunity to work with Wasabi again and to have access to all of their resources, tools and mentorship. In late October I will be pitching my company in Utica New York, with the rest of the Commercialization Academy cohort. I plan on becoming an entrepreneur with the help of Wasabi Ventures and building an incubated company!

Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Impact Investing

Monday, August 29th, 2016

A recent article on Forbes.com noted that questions about impact investing have undergone a significant shift, from “What is impact investing?” to “How do I do impact investing?”

Three New Hampshire institutions −Live Free & Start, the NH Charitable Foundation and the NH Community Loan Fund − answer that question for Granite State investors and prospective investors. The fifth in a series of public forums, Investing in New Hampshire, will be held from 4:30 t0 7 pm, Sept. 22, at SNS, 775 Industrial Park Rd., Littleton.

“A successful startup ecosystem and strong business climate require, among other things, access to capital,” said Mark Kaplan, a Live Free & Start advisory council member and chairman of its Capital Access committee. “This focus by LFS comes as the state’s five incubators and other economic development groups are creating a vibrant startup ecosystem and angel groups have a desire to become more active. These seminars will educate people about opportunities to invest in New Hampshire, making capital more available to entrepreneurs.”

The forum features representatives of the three presenting organizations describing what they offer to impact investors:

  • Kaplan;
  • John Hamilton, vice president of Economic Opportunity at the NH Community Loan Fund;
  • Kevin Peterson, senior program officer at the NH Charitable Foundation

“Live Free & Start is not an investor or conduit for investment, but it can stimulate and catalyze activities leading to investment,” Kaplan said. “The first step in doing that was a very-well-attended angel conference that has led to new members in angel groups. The next step are these forums, which take a broader view of the opportunities to invest with impact in New Hampshire through other means as well.”

Hamilton said the Community Loan Fund has welcomed impact investments for more than three decades.

“Our options range from Opportunity NH Investments, which pay fixed-rate returns and support job creation and retention, affordable housing, child care and other vital community services, to potentially higher-yield co-investments in growing businesses,” he said.

“We made our very first impact investment in 1971, by providing a loan to preserve historic buildings in Harrisville,” said Peterson. “Working alongside our grant and scholarship dollars, impact investing creates an opportunity to make sizeable, long-term investments to strengthen New Hampshire communities.”

“Through our impact-investment program, we can invest philanthropic capital in innovative business ventures and solid nonprofit organizations aligned with our mission to improve community well-being.”

The presentations will finish at 6 p.m., followed by a networking reception at which attendees can ask questions. All are free and open to prospective and current investors and to philanthropists. This event is for educational purposes only; it’s not intended for individuals or businesses seeking investment or capital.

The seminar is free, but registration is required.

Steve Case: Rise of the Rest Pitch Contest Coming to Manchester

Friday, September 11th, 2015

(Entrepreneur Steve Case announced his latest Rise of the Rest bus tour on Aug. 3 at the White House. His blog from that event is reprinted with permission below. Information about making your pitch (deadline is Sunday!) and to be in the audience during the competition follow the blog. -Ed)


Steve Case

From the White House: Announcing the Next Rise of the Rest Bus Tour
by Steve Case

Typically the White House’s East Room is reserved for presidential addresses or official state ceremonies. But today it will be bustling with entrepreneurs from all across the U.S. showcasing their startups to the president, senior officials, investors and many others.

I’m delighted to attend the first ever White House Demo Day and gratified to see the country recognizing the role entrepreneurs have played – and will continue to pay – in helping to build America and ensuring it has a bright future. And it is great to see the President lead an effort to level the playing field, so any entrepreneur, anywhere, can have a shot at being part of the American dream.

Speaking of any entrepreneur, anywhere: among the talented founders honored at the White House and chosen to exhibit their startups today are previous Rise of the Rest winners Jewel Burks and Jason Crain of Partpic – based in Atlanta, and Mindy Taylor and Sam Staley of Bidr – based in Charleston.

Our team is using the occasion to commit to visiting 10 more Rise of the Rest cities and investing an additional $1 million in startups, (including):

Manchester, NH on Oct. 1

During day-long visits to these rising startup cities, we’ll meet with local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profits, universities, and public officials to discuss the opportunities and challenges of fostering startup growth.

At a pitch competition open to the public in each city, a local startup will receive a $100,000 investment. And we’ll cap things off with a happy hour celebration.

In 2016, the Rise of the Rest tour will visit five more cities in the western part of the U.S.

At Revolution, we’ve seen firsthand how technological advances, public policy changes, and the growing awareness about the critical importance of entrepreneurship have lowered barriers to entry for startups. In June the Revolution Growth fund made its largest investment to date in Shinola, based in Detroit. A Revolution Ventures portfolio company based in Baltimore, OrderUp, was recently purchased by Groupon – a huge win for the Baltimore startup ecosystem.

(For more recent, trends on the geographic diversity of startup activity, see here.)

As we hit the road in late September and early October, I look forward to discussing how Baltimore is much more than just a port city, but an emerging, Mid-Atlantic startup hub with innovative minds especially in defense, research, health, and technology.

How Philadelphia – which launched the most successful startup in history (the United States) – continues to develop its talented base of 101 colleges and universities to encourage a diverse group of millennials, an engaged local and state government, as well as its established corporations, to take part in the startup economy.

How Buffalo and Western New York – once one of the country’s great manufacturing centers – continues to come back through the concentration of biomedical expertise, advanced production industries, tourism, and strong backing from government including through the Buffalo Billion Initiative.

How Manchester and Hanover – once home to the largest mill yards in the world – continue to transform New Hampshire into the Live Free and Start state, leveraging the international talent stream of Dartmouth College and other schools to craft technologies built around software and life sciences, and create an emerging innovation hub between Boston and Montreal.

And how Portland’s continued effort to build upon one of the country’s most authentic buy-local movements, a highly educated population, and a strong tourism base is creating a startup ecosystem rich with doers, innovators, and new businesses in the northeast.

After logging 3,000 miles and investing $1.5 million in startups during previous tours, we are excited to fire up the bus again and head north. Joining Revolution on the next tour as partners, in addition to Google for Entrepreneurs and Salesforce for Startups, are Engine, Seed Here Studio, Tech Cocktail, Startup Grind, and Village Capital.

Interested in applying to pitch and or attend the celebration in Manchester during the upcoming tour? Visit www.riseofrest.com to register.

If you are interested in pitching your startup for a $100,000 investment from legendary entrepreneur Steve Case on 10/1, during the nationwide Rise of the Rest tour through Manchester, start your application today. The application deadline is Sunday 9/13 at 11.59pm EST.

RSVP here to attend the post competition celebration.

Five Questions with Liz Gray, Live Free and Start

Friday, July 31st, 2015

The entrepreneurial ecosystem for New Hampshire’s high-tech businesses is thriving. Much of it has to do with the ingenuity and selflessness of professionals throughout the state, sharing their time and expertise to create connections to funding, networks, skilled workers, mentorship and so much more.

One of the people leading the charge is Liz Gray, director of the Live Free and Start initiative. A joint venture of the Governor’s Office, the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority, and the Division of Economic Development, LFS is focused on job creation and making it easier for technology companies to start, grow, and succeed in New Hampshire. Liz originally hails from New York, but while attending the University of New Hampshire, she fell in love with the Granite State. She served under two governors and worked in the state senate before joining the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority as director of entrepreneurship and taking a leadership role in the LFS initiative.

1. Live Free and Start is barely a year old, yet it’s already had a major impact on the business community. To what do you attribute its success so far?


Liz Gray ~ Live Free and Start

We launched the initiative at a time when the business community was eager to have the state take a more active role in directly supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Because Live Free and Start is a joint initiative of the Governor’s Office, the NH Business Finance Authority and the Department of Resources and Economic Development, we’ve had a tremendous amount of support at the highest levels of state government. Governor Hassan is the initiative’s biggest champion and talks about the work of LFS whenever she can. I also have the pleasure of working with an advisory council made up of 14 accomplished high-tech entrepreneurs and business leaders from across New Hampshire.

Right from the start, we knew we didn’t have all the answers. We took the time to listen and learn. Governor Hassan hosted a series of business roundtables; LFS led focus groups and I met with business leaders and ecosystem partners from across the state to better understand current challenges. We brought people together. We wanted this initiative to be inclusive and focused on solving challenges that both startups and established companies identified. After taking the time to listen and ask questions, I believe we were better prepared to take action and provide strategic recommendations to the governor and legislature.

 I am proud that members of the New Hampshire Legislature strongly supported two of Live Free and Start’s priorities; SB 266 (securities modernization act) and SB 223 (business name availability standard). It also supported the governor’s proposal to provide state funding to support education and acceleration programs at New Hampshire’s business incubators. Votes in the Senate and the House sent strong messages that lawmakers, too, were eager to support the state’s startup ecosystem.


2. Your mission is to create jobs and make it easier for technology companies to start, grow and succeed in New Hampshire. What does that look like on a day-to-day basis?

Live Free and Start began as an idea a little over a year ago. Every project, from the design of the website and marketing campaign, to our legislative agenda and Ultimate Connection Competition, was brand new to us and had to be developed from scratch. Needless to say, I’ve worn a lot of hats!

My days are spent drafting and shepherding our legislation through the legislative process, in meetings with our marketing agency developing the website, strategizing with the LFS Advisory Council, reaching out to companies to see if they would like to be highlighted through our Innovator of the Week series, meeting with stakeholders to discuss partnerships and initiatives, attending startup events around the state hosted by our outstanding incubator network or the New Hampshire High Tech Council, and then of course looking ahead to figure out what’s next for Live Free and Start. That’s just in the past few months!

I know I’m not alone in saying this, but there is always so much to do and never enough time in the day to get it all done. Thankfully, I love my job and the amazing people I get to work with and learn from every day. I am very optimistic that Live Free and Start can make some great progress going forward. I love knowing that I’m able to play a small part in making NH a better place for our tech startups.


3. In little more than a month, you announced the launch of the Ultimate NH Connection competition and crowned the first winner. What did you learn about the state of tech entrepreneurship in New Hampshire as a result?

Each and every day I am amazed at the groundbreaking technologies and solutions to real-world challenges being developed in New Hampshire’s tech startups. The men and women founders in our state’s e-ecosystem walk the walk. They’re up at dawn for meetings, on the phone pitching prospective clients during the day, networking at night, working in the wee hours of the morning – then doing it all over again chasing their dream.

Whether it’s their first company or their fifth, NH’s tech entrepreneurs are blazing a path forward. NH’s tech scene may be smaller than some tech hubs, but I can assure you that our companies and our founders can compete with the best of the best. I encourage you to see for yourself and learn more about what these inspiring men and women are doing through Live Free and Start’s Innovator of the Week series.


4. Ultimate NH Connection is one of many start-up/tech-focused competitions in NH. In your opinion, why has this competition model become so popular?

 In general, startup competitions are exciting, people love a good competition. They bring people together to showcase up-and-coming businesses, and of course, give out cash prizes to the winners. But in NH our startup challenges are doing more. In true NH fashion, the challenges have volunteer judges and mentors. In addition to cash prizes, our incubators, law firms, CPAs and marketing agencies are donating their time and expertise to support our entrepreneurs. This is another way New Hampshire provides a unique and extremely supportive environment for startups.

In terms of LFS’s Ultimate NH Connection, this competition truly highlighted the level of accessibility new businesses can have to stakeholders across the state. NH prides itself on being a very accessible state. In many cases, you’re an email or a phone call away from connecting with someone or something that can help move your business along. LFS was fortunate to have a number of fantastic entrepreneurs apply for the competition, and we were pleased to crown PickUp Patrol as our first winner.

The Ultimate NH Connection achieved what so many entrepreneurs would like to have the opportunity to participate in: A meeting with a diverse group of stakeholders, all of whom bring a unique perspective and want to see the company succeed. The experts that joined the meeting with Governor Hassan and the PickUp Patrol team were thrilled to be asked to be a part of the meeting and brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. It was a very fun project to be a part of, and PickUp Patrol was able to make a number of connections that will serve them well as they expand and grow in New Hampshire. You can follow PickUp Patrol’s progress through the Ultimate NH Connection blog on the LFS site.


5. What’s next on the horizon for Live Free and Start? What are your goals for the rest of 2015?

For a young initiative, I’m proud of the progress we’ve made. In the last few months we’ve learned a lot, brought together e-ecosystem stakeholders, launched www.LiveFreeandStart.com, ran the Ultimate Connection Competition, helped get two startup friendly pieces of legislation passed (SB 266 and SB 223), and started highlighting New Hampshire tech companies for their achievements. Going forward I will be working hard to keep our website fresh with interesting blog content, expanded resource links, Innovator of the Week stories, and event posts on our statewide calendar. The Live Free and Start Advisory Council will be meeting this summer to develop a strategic plan to guide our efforts in the coming year. You can expect to see new legislative initiatives for the 2016 session, an Ultimate Connection Competition 2.0, celebratory events during NH Entrepreneurship Week and more of a focus on expanding access to capital for startups.

As we grow as an initiative, LFS will have the ability to drive change and create an even better environment for entrepreneurs to start, grow, and succeed in New Hampshire. I hope that you’ll see a lot more of LFS in the months and year ahead. To do so, we’ll need support from people like you. So come join the Live Free and Start movement and connect with us today!

Connect with Live Free and Start on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


Live Free and Start: A Guide to New Hampshire’s $tartup Competitions

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Spring is in the air and if you’re an entrepreneur, this means one thing — business plan competition season. Over the next two months, entrepreneurs and start-up companies have the opportunity to win over $230,000 in cash and in-kind services through four start up competitions: The Dartmouth Ventures Entrepreneurial Contest, the MYPN Start Up Challenge, the Startup Rochester Business Competition and the Holloway Prize Innovation-to-Market Competition.

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your start-ups …

Dartmouth Ventures Entrepreneurial Contest

On Saturday (April 5), three start-up businesses will vie for $100,000 in cash and prizes at the Dartmouth Ventures Entrepreneurial Contest, open to anyone with a Dartmouth College affiliation. The contest is part of Dartmouth Ventures, an annual conference on entrepreneurship established in 2002.

All attendees of Dartmouth Ventures will have the opportunity to vote for a People’s Choice winner during the Entrepreneurial Contest.  The People’s Choice winner will take home $2,500 in cash and additional in-kind services.  For information on attending Dartmouth Ventures click here.

Holloway Prize Innovation-to-Market Competition

Similar to the Dartmouth Ventures competition, the Holloway Prize Innovation to Market Competition is hosted by the Paul School of Business at the University of New Hampshire, open to students within the University System of New Hampshire. The Holloway Prize is in its 26th year and has a history of applicants going on to create sustainable and profitable companies.

The most notable entry came from Joe Faro in 1991.  He founded Tuscan Brands, Tuscan Market and Joseph’s Pasta, which he sold for $60 million to Nestle. Faro credits part of his success to his participation in the Holloway Prize, which encouraged him to create a business plan that was realistic and sustainable.

The Holloway Prize is worth over $100,000 in cash and in-kind services and championship round begins at 1 pm, May 7 at the Paul College. For more information on the Holloway Competition and the Charles and Miriam Nelson Poster Competition, click here.

MYPN Start Up Challenge

The Manchester Young Professionals Network started the MYPN Start Up Challenge in 2006 to encourage and promote entrepreneurship in the young professional community.  The competition is open to New Hampshire start-ups and applications will be accepted until April 18. Over the past five years, $210,000 in cash and in-kind services have been awarded to New Hampshire startups. This year’s winner will receive more than $55,000 in cash and in-kind services.

One of the many start up success stories from the Start Up Challenge is Nearby Registry, which won in 2012. Allison Grappone’s 2009 wedding was the inspiration, when she and her husband channeled the frustration they had when they were unable to support their favorite local businesses through the traditional gift registry model. So like any entrepreneur, Grappone developed a website that enables people to create a registry for wedding, birthdays and other events using small businesses from all over the state. Since winning the Start Up Challenge, Nearby Registry has grown to three full-time staff and is expanding its business into Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Vermont.  The company has signed on more than 150 storefronts in New Hampshire and Seattle and has kept over $18,000 and counting in the local economy.

The MYPN Start Up Challenge semi-final event is May 15 and the winner will be announced June 17 at the NHIOP at Saint Anselm College. To learn more about the MYPN Start Up Challenge or submit an application, click here.

Startup Rochester Business Competition

Similar to the MYPN Start Up Challenge, the Start Up Rochester Business Competition is open to New Hampshire startups that have not raised more than $100,000 in funding.  Applications will be accepted until April 8.

This is the second year of the competition, which started as a partnership between the Rochester Community and Economic Development Division and the abi Innovation Hub.  Last year’s winner, Kinetic Surface Control, is a growing company in Newmarket that develops technology to strip paint and corrosion from metal, concrete, asphalt and other surfaces. This year’s applicants will compete for a $20,000 cash-and-in-kind prize package at the final event on May 8.  To learn more about the business competition or submit an application, click here.

New Hampshire is a great place to start and grow a business and these competitions are a perfect complement to the expanding New Hampshire start-up ecosystem, thanks to the incredible – and enthusiastic – efforts of our  incubators around the state and the hundreds of start-ups created each year.

Live Free and Start!

Chris_WellingtonChris Wellington

NH Division of Economic Development

Business Resource Specialist

The Seacoast and Cheshire and Sullivan Counties