Ventures New York

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Edelson Lobster Bake in Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Over the weekend, I attended a financial-star-studded lobster bake at Reeds Island in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

The event was thrown by venture capitalist Harry Edelson, general partner of Edelson Technology Partners (, whose vacation house and property along the Atlantic Ocean provided a magnificent backdrop for the food, drink and schmoozing that took place among the financial luminaries, family and friends who attended.

The weather was ideal for the event – a blue sky and temperatures I estimate in the 80’s. The sun was strong on Edelson’s terrace, and there was a constant flow of people between the terrace and the house’s sun room with huge picture windows overlooking the Atlantic.

The menu was traditional for a Maine lobster bake. In addition to outstanding lobster, there were corn on the cob, chicken, potatoes, hard boiled eggs and excellent home-baked coffee cake.

Edelson holds these events every two years, with many of the guests invited back time after time, while each lobster bake also brings many newcomers, as well.

Attendees deem this a “must go to” event – if they are fortunate enough to be invited. To show their dedication to Harry, last weekend’s attendees came from as far away as California, Florida, and Minneapolis in the U.S, as well as China. Of course, many also came from the nearer environs of New York and New England. .

I was one of those fortunate people to be invited this year – having met Harry for the first time just a few months ago at a private equity conference in New York.

I drove up from New York with a friend, Jonathan Gubin, president of New York boutique investment banking firm Capital InVentures (“The Crossroads of Creative and Capital”). It was well worth the 7-hour drive each way.

The guest list included entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, private equity investors, investment bankers, commercial bankers and people involved in a wide variety of other business endeavors. Of particular note were a large contingent of Chinese Americans – entrepreneurs, financiers and investment bankers -- reflecting Edelson’s strong interest in investing in China.

eChinaCash (eCC) is one of Edelson’s China investments, and was represented at the lobster bake by its chairman, Peter Norton, best known for creating the Norton anti-virus PC protection programs. eCC is a US-incorporated, Beijing-based provider of customized database management, loyalty and payment card programs for large corporations and financial institutions in China. The company has over 200 employees in three major Chinese metropolitan centers – Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Edelson says the company is valued at about $250 million today, and is expected to be worth $1 billion in the next couple of years.

While mingling at the lobster bake, the guests also took advantage of the opportunity to network with each other, swapping business cards and making appointments for future meetings.

During the festivities, Harry handed out gifts/prizes in a raffle for both the kids (there were plenty of them) and the adults

All told, the Edelson Lobster Bake was hugely successful. I personally left having made many new friends and business contacts.

I hope I’m invited to the next one.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Two Winemakers from Wala Wala, Washington

Did you ever hear of wines from Wala Wala, Washington? I hadn't, until last Friday evening, when I met John Turner and Justin Michaud, while having a drink at one of New York's nationally known restaurants.

John is managing partner, and Justin is assistant winemaker at Ash Hollow Estate Vineyards & Winery in Wala Wala (

Both men were in town to spread the word in New York about their wines and their eight-year-old wine business. At that particular moment on Friday evening, they were delivering a wine sample for tasting to the restaurant's sommelier.

Ash Hollow is a boutique winery which "focuses on producing ultra-premium quality wines," its latest newsletter/brochure says.

It is located within the Western edge of the Wala Wala Valley appellation. On the same 46-degree North latitude as Bordeaux, France, "it has become an exceptional source for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Syrah grapes," the newsletter states.

Ash Hollow produces several whites, reds and rose, all in limited quantities. For example, it produced 600 cases of its Somanna 2005, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris; 200 cases of its Gewurztraminer 2005, and 41 cases of its Cabernet Franc Rose 2005.

In the past several years, Ash Hollow has received praise from a number of well-known wine critics, including Robert M. Parker Jr. of the The Wine Advocate and Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide, and James Laube of Wine Spectator Weekly.

I enjoyed my conversation with Turner and Michaud, and wish them well in promoting both their own label, and the wines of Wala Wala.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

How to Become an E-Business Millionaire,
According to Consultant Scott Fox

According to Scott Fox, Internet technology is so easy to use and inexpensive today, that almost anyone one with a great business idea can parlay the idea into a sizable business opportunity.

Fox, an e-business consultant as well as a Stanford Law School graduate, has just published a book titled "Internet Riches: The Simple Money-Making Secrets of Online Millionaires" (Amacom, 2006, $22.00) The book is aimed at the general reader who may have been contemplating starting an online business, and who wants to know what's involved, how to get started, and how to grow the business.

Fox is in a good position to help online entrepreneurs, having assisted many of them to start up and grow their online businesses over past the several years. Fox details how a number of these entrepreneurs built their e-businesses up to substantial revenues, using the relatively inexpensive services and tools now available on the marketplace.

One of these new businesses was built by his wife, under the name SweaterBabe. com, which sells patterns for sweaters, scarves, hats and ponchos, as well as accessories like like purses and baby blankets, to knitting and crocheting enthusiasts.

Fox takes his readers right from business idea conception, to setting up the website, to incorporating e-commerce shopping carts, to marketing strategies for "no budget," "small budget," and "real budget" situations, right through copyright and intellectual property protection.

This is an interesting, easy read with the potential for a high payoff.

I recommend the book, and have already been able to implement some of its advice into my own business strategy.

Monday, July 10, 2006

"The Virtual Handshake":
A Book That Can Help You Broaden Your Network

I just completed reading "The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online," an extremely informative and useful book by David Teten and Scott Allen.

The book, published last year, details how to make use of "social software" to "build and leverage a much larger and more effective network." It is an excellent guide to expanding your business potential through online networking.

This book has helped bring me up-to-date on how to enhance my business outreach into the marketplace. I am looking forward to using the book's guidance to increase my effectiveness in developing new public relations and marketing communications business.

Of particular significance is the book's focus on the "Seven Keys to creating and maintaining a powerful network: your Character, your Competence to do what you claim you can do, the Relevance of the people you know, the Strength of your relationships, the Information that you have about people, the Number of people you know, and the Diversity of your network.

The book provides guidance on how to leverage these keys using social software.

Over the recent past, I have made the acquaintance of David Teten, one of the co-authors of "The Virtual Handshake." I heard him as a panel member at two separate technology-related networking breakfasts, and have corresponded briefly with him by email. Teten is extremely knowledgeable about the benefits of using social software.

He operates two networking-based businesses: (1) Teten Recruiting specializes in using online networks to find high-quality candidates; and (2) Nitron Advisors, whose clients include hedge funds, private equity funds and mutual funds, introduces these clients to executives, academics, scientists and other industry experts who can analyze investment opportunities based on their experience on the industry's front lines. Teten uses social software to help clients interview and learn directly from these experts.

There is plenty of great advice in "The Virtual Handshake," and I intend to keep it close at hand as I work to implement its guidance in the coming months.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

To my new readers.

This is the first posting of a new blog, Ventures New York, that will cover a wide range of venturing, private equity and other financing activities in the New York metropolitan region.

As a long-time financial writer and journalist, I will be able to keep you informed of many of the financial presentations taking place in New York and new deals closed, as well as what financial industry insiders are anticipating in the coming weeks and months. Sector coverage will include technology, biotech, Internet-related startups, and other of the most active areas in financing and investing.

We may also venture off into financial and economic forecasting, based on my previous background as a professional economist.

All in all, you can expect a lively look at what's happening in the financing scene in the New York area.

Here's hoping you'll benefit from this new blog.


Lew Koflowitz