Entrepreneurs Roundtable Joins Clan of NYC Tech Incubators, Graduates First Class of Startups

10/17/11Follow @arleneweintraub

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sponsorship with American Airlines, which is providing the entrepreneurs with free flights. “The trip wouldn’t be possible for such early-stage companies unless we had the American Airlines sponsorship,” Axelrod says.

The access to such a wide array of investors on both coasts is designed to help the companies progress faster than they might in another incubator, Axelrod says. In fact, he adds, companies are chosen for the accelerator based on how well-equipped they are to go from concept to product quickly. The concept alone isn’t enough, Axelrod says. “They all have to have at least one technical co-founder,” he says. “We thought the companies that could actually take the mentoring advice and iterate quickly—within a three-month program—would be the ones that would benefit most.”

The founders of Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator bring a wide range of startup experience to the venture. Aktihanoglu founded and sold Centrl, a location-based social network. Axelrod most recently founded digital-media company MusicGremlin and sold it to Sandisk in 2008. Kemper is a managing director at Revel Partners, a VC firm focused on digital media and advertising.

Nik Bonaddio and Sean Weinstock of NumberFire—an analytics program for fantasy-football players—say the Entrepreneurs Roundtable program gave them contacts and experience that they wouldn’t have had the wherewithal to find on their own. “It’s good life experience to be thrown into the deep end of the pool,” says Bonaddio, who built the first version of NumberFire after winning $100,000 on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? in 2010. The company is now “well on the way” to raising its first round of funding, Weinstock adds.

Axelrod and his partners made a deal with the startups that they can stay in the accelerator until the next class arrives in January. The entrepreneurs are reluctant to leave—so reluctant that several of them are trying to figure out how to stay together. “The overall energy of being part of the incubator is awesome. This space creates a fantastic sense of collaboration,” says Elizabeth Fastiggi, co-founder of LetGive, a platform that allows Web publishers to incorporate charitable applications into their sites. Adds co-founder Josh Abdulla, “A lot of the companies are going to be staying in New York and getting an office space together.”

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