By GREGORY ZELLER //
In a true first for Long Island’s innovation economy, a historically underserved population of regional entrepreneurs will show up at LaunchPad Huntington on Thursday night.
In collaboration with the 501 (c) 3 Minority Millennials organization, LaunchPad Huntington director Phil Rugile programmed Ideas Impacting Culture: Minority Millennial Pitch Night, a chance for several non-white innovators to present products and services to a panel established professionals, also made up of non-Caucasian businessmen with a wealth of professional experience.
For the Lindenhurst-based nonprofit, it’s a simple math question: By the early 2030s, according to the Minority Millennials website, non-whites will constitute the majority of the working class in America, while Millennials – loosely defined as the demographic cohort born between the mid-1980s and early 2000s – already make up 27 percent of the national minority population.
To this end, the organization strives to represent minorities and millennials in public policy issues affecting the future of their workplace – and in a world where entrepreneurial pitch nights are an integral part of an economy. growing innovation, organizing a pitch-a-thon specifically for minorities entrepreneurs seemed like a logical step, Rugile noted.
In fact, it’s surprising that none have been programmed before, according to Rugile, who feels that a “that’s-why-you-are-building-an-ecosystem” moment is brewing.
“It’s amazing to me that this is the first minority focused pitch night on Long Island,” he told Innovate LI. “We are tapping into a new resource of talent on the island that people had not yet discovered.
“Just because of that, it’s an exciting event. “
Rugile traces Thursday night’s pitch event through to Startup Weekend 2017 Long Island, a TechStars focused on Hofstra University and bringing together LaunchPad director Huntington helped organize with friend and longtime collaborator Aaron Foss (creator of the successful terminator of automated calls Nomorobo), among others.
Intrigued by the TechStars event, Millennial Minorities founder Daniel Lloyd reached out to organizers, who directed him to Foss and Rugile, and soon the like-minded rainmakers were talking shop.
“I started to hire him and figure out what he was looking to do,” Rugile noted, and the parties eventually agreed that a minority-only pitch night made sense – the big LaunchPad boss doing arguing that Lloyd’s best option was to hold him at the busy Huntington co-working space.
“I suggested that if they did it at LaunchPad Huntington, they would probably get more attention,” Rugile said. “Then they can bring it directly to the communities they are trying to serve.
“So that became the plan,” he added. “Build your brand awareness through LaunchPad, then take it on the road, to places like Hempstead and Wyandanch, places where minority Millennials seek to really make an impact. “
Thursday night’s pitch-a-thon certainly grabbed attention: Rugile said the LaunchPad called for “at least” 50 attendees, with five minority entrepreneurs presenting various ideas, including the professional social networking app Common Connect; the DGI “agricultural drone service” (for “Drone Grown International”); and Colored Colors, a company designed to network artists and local businesses.
Also on the program: presentations from the creators of Lingually, an app designed to connect multilingual business partners, and Tha Grind, a recruiting service designed to help unguided youth become college student-athletes.
Speakers will address a panel of business experts representing a wide variety of professional backgrounds. Among them are Derek Peterson, founder of Soter Technologies, an expert in “environmental technologies” based in Hauppauge, and Marcus Damas, native of Bay Shore, a basketball star at Towson University who played two seasons of basketball. -professional ball in Sweden before launching a creation based in New York. Marketing agency Fueled By Culture.
Also in attendance: award-winning entrepreneur, author and speaker Anthony Frasier; Daphne Gordon, Project Administrator at the Entrepreneurship Support Center at Suffolk County Community College; and Marsha Guerrier, founder of New York-based small business consultancy, Women on the Rise NY.
The high-caliber panel adds gravity to a one-of-a-kind event that organizers say will open both eyes and doors – and fits in perfectly with LaunchPad Huntington’s entrepreneurial mantra, according to the facility manager.
“We are very interested in creating a more formal process for minority entrepreneurs, to help them learn how to set up a pitch deck and how to pitch professionally,” Rugile noted. “And I would love to partner with some of Long Island’s other resources to help minority Millennials get funding to cover more of its costs.
“I like to get things done and then pass them on to the people who can really make them work,” Rugile added. “This is the model.”