NEW PALTZ, NY, USA, October 18, 2019 - The Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship Network (GCSEN Foundation) co-sponsored the first annual Hudson Valley Venture Fest, located at SUNY New Paltz, NY. The event was the brainchild of the College’s Venture Hub initiative, designed to bring the Hudson Valley’s entrepreneur ecosystem together to exchange innovative ideas and energy for startups.

Led by Tony DiMarco, GCSEN’s Managing Director, as well as a Hudson Valley Startup Fund Manager, the Venture Hub’s ecosystem includes entrepreneurs, high-growth startups, investors, service providers, educators and student entrepreneurs. Supported by Dean Kristin Backus, SUNY New Paltz School of Business, who wants new paths of practical opportunity for students, facilitated the event, attended by over 300 people from the region. The event included a high-powered Entrepreneur’s Panel, moderated by Hudson Valley Startup Fund Founder Johnny LeHane. It included Frank Borchetta, Founder and President, Repairogen, a high-tech DNA bio-manufacturer; Chelsea Briganti, Co-founder and CEO, Loliware, a leader in advanced seaweed products to replace plastics; Michael Waterman, President of Canopy Holdings, a regional food products and ag-efficiency business; and Dan Sommer, Co-founder of 10X Impact, an educational technology and content provider to colleges and universities.

The keynote speech was delivered by Kenneth Pasternak, Executive Chairman of KABR and the Pasternak Family Foundation. The event included six hands-on Breakout Sessions led by local innovators and business leaders, including Blockchain for Business; Rapid App Development; Prototype Manufacturing Innovation; Design Thinking for Entrepreneurs; Professionalizing Your Team; and the Angel Investment Experience.
Mike Caslin, Founder and President of GCSEN, a co-sponsor of the event said, “The launch of GCSEN’s new Regional Resilience Accelerator, located in our partner Fala Technology’s facility in Kingston NY, informed this co-sponsorship opportunity. We’re excited to see the energy and ideas exchanged here. Many start-ups and early stage manufacturing companies in the Hudson Valley need a place to further develop their business models and product prototypes, as well needing a platform to interact with regional investors, suppliers, service providers and workforce entities, so we stepped in to fill the gap. We want to help them get serious about their venture development. And the response so far has been great!”

The event also included a PitchFest, where 8 startup Hudson Valley entrepreneurs delivered two-minute competitive pitches for winning prizes of $2000, $1000, and $500. Participants included: U.S. Veteran Isabel Castillo, a GCSEN Certified Social Entrepreneur and Vassar College student, Founder of Izana, empowering women with innovative, adaptive clothing; Alexander Miles, Founder, SportsHi, home of High School Sports; Eliza Edge and Stephanie Erwin, Founders, Cahoots, for seasonal wardrobe rentals for children; Reva McPollom, Founder, LessonBee, a health education startup; Evaguel and Daryian Rhysing, Founders, United Aircraft Technologies, a new wire maintenance firm; Marty Rottman, Founder, FabForeDev, a mobile gaming and sports app developer; Donald Kerr, Founder, BioSand Bag Filter, developer of a portable water treatment device; and Terence Finn, Founder, Velotooler, a home-delivered bicycle mechanic service.

Since 2015, GCSEN has developed and rolled out a series of innovative Social Entrepreneurship (SE) offerings, including its highly regarded Social Venture Boot Camps for college students and adult learners; its accredited on-line blended-learning courses with personalized coaching; its Social Venture Research Institute fellowships for certification in Social Entrepreneurship for college administrators, faculty and business leaders. GCSEN has certified over 500 Social Entrepreneurs via its college partners Wheaton College (MA), SUNY New Paltz School of Business, Vassar College (NY) and Saint Peter’s University Business School (Jersey City), soon to be joined by Rutgers University School of Continuing Education.. Additionally, GCSEN offers its Venturator R&D space in Kingston NY, which includes a FabLab, business incubator, digital media TV studio, and Regional Resilience Accelerator, primarily for life-essential product manufacturing entities.

Recently, the organization announced that it was chosen as the recipient of a fourth consecutive Diana Davis Spencer Foundation (DDSF) Innovation In Entrepreneurship Education Grant. The prestigious award, by invitation only, was for $700,000, representing DDSF’s historic support of $3.1M to GCSEN since its inception in 2015.

GCSEN has been featured in numerous publications and media platforms, including MarketWatch, Yahoo Finance, and as an “On-trendpreneur” in Trends Journal. The New England Journal of Higher Education stated, “GSCEN’s research has conclusively shown that SE education results in significant content knowledge gains retained by students; shows significant gains in self-confidence; is ranked highly as a life-changing learning experience by students; and is highly recommended by students to their peers. Additionally, 70% of GSCEN student participants plan to create “4P” Social Enterprises, for People, Profit, Planet and Place in the coming decade.

GCSEN Founder & President Mike Caslin is an internationally recognized thought leader of Social Entrepreneurship, currently lecturing at SUNY New Paltz School of Business (NY), and Saint Peter’s University Business School (Jersey City NJ). He is a past faculty member of Babson College, CUNY-Baruch College Zicklin School of Business, Marist College School of Business and Manhattanville College. He has spent the last three decades studying, lecturing and facilitating efforts to promote social entrepreneurship on a global scale. GCSEN’s leadership and influence in the field of Social Entrepreneurship in Higher Education continues to build, as seen in its support of Wheaton College’s successful effort in 2017 to create enhanced social entrepreneur programming, facilitated by visionary grants of over $10M from DDSF.

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