The Hatchery: Rearranging the puzzle for young companies

November 5, 2015

(Excerpted from  Lynn Robbin’s article originally published at

Yao Huang’s TED Talk begins with a simple decree: If you don’t like the way the table is set, upset the table. That’s just what Huang did when she founded the Hatchery, a New York venture collaboration forum focusing on cooperation over competition. (Online at

The company works mostly with data-driven startups geared for business-to-business sales.With many business ventures in the New York area, organizations often work against each other, Huang says. The Hatchery is breaking this mold by fostering an environment in which innovation can thrive. As a result, it forges bonds with entrepreneurs and investors who trust them as an impartial forum.Huang says she changes up the process of getting investor funding for startups by finding a customer first. When she and her team find a customer who agrees to buy the product, they build a team around that who then builds the product. The completed product triggers new customers, revenues, and investors, which lead to sales, a marketing team, and a full operations staff.

“We rearrange the puzzle pieces to make it a little easier and bring on a lot more people to help,” Huang says. “We start the process with a clear path to revenue.”

The Hatchery, which collaborates with universities, is open to new ideas and research to help data scientists and young engineers build companies, Huang says.

Founded in 2007, the Hatchery has helped more than 350 early stage companies through various phases of maturity with a focus on product, business, revenue, and funding. The Hatchery was built on the principle that all technology companies have the right to access business experts and leading-edge information. It works with startups from ideation, development, sales, and funding to exit. The Hatchery works closely with foreign consulates and trade and investment offices of countries from all over the world. “You can think of us as a cofounder,” Huang says.

Their services include several components, including pitch presentations, funding, and technology. Pitch presentation includes working with presenters to understand what they have to say and how best to say it. Funding is working with the company in answering initial important questions. Are you fundable? Is your company scalable, poised for growth, or a lifestyle company? The technology aspect is all about providing technology solutions based on the startup company’s needs.

The Hatchery Incubator is where the work gets done. It develops new companies or projects by bringing together the startups, partnering companies, and investors. Scientificidly and Media Stealth focus on data analytics, Fintech Stealth and Humabi focus on finance; and focuses on media and publishing.

As mentioned earlier, the initial goal is to find the first customer, then other early customers, and then build a pipeline for future customers. The startup founders are united with serial entrepreneurs, senior engineers, and data scientists. The Incubator works with the startup team to build the product using domain experts at the beginning to ensure good product-market fit and managing the technology development. Working with a network of investors, the Hatchery supplies funding for the project.

The Hatchery’s goal for its startup companies is to line it up with wants and needs of companies interested in acquisition. With its influencer network of more than 20 advisors from portfolio companies, professionals offer guidance based on their expertise and the needs of the Startup founder.

The Hatchery offers about 50 events each year aimed to connect startups with investors and experts in their field.

  • Are You Serious?: A tough, fast-paced pitching event including presentation, Q&A, and delivery. Pitchers can expect honest responses about their start-up on marketing, finance, technology, business, and presentation. This event is not just a product demonstration. Think of this process as an experience of tough love where you will learn your strengths and weaknesses.“You might get your face slapped, but if you are headed down the wrong path, wouldn’t you want to know this early on so you can take steps to prevent failure? “ asks Huang. “After this event, pitchers come back and thank us, especially if they were going down the wrong road.”
  • The Gauntlet: focuses on particular “hot” vertical markets such as digital media, gaming, financial services, and others. The process involves presentation, grilling from the panel, and audience Q&A.
  • Hatch Match: Investor and entrepreneurs gatherings. Entrepreneurs can sign up for five-minute, one-on-one meetings with investors and partake in general networking.
  • Live @Hatchery: A speaker series in a fireside chat environment. Features the “hard to reach guys” who will cover topics you aren’t likely to find from a Google search.
  • Wonder Women: A curated gathering of successful women supporting the success of each other.In addition to her role at the Hatchery, Huang is a partner in Pereg Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm. She is advisor and deal maker to the governments of 10 countries throughout North America, Europe, and Asia assisting foreign technology companies in their expansion to the U.S. market.

Huang was named by Forbes as one of 11 women at the center of New York’s digital scene, by Beta Beat as one of 25 Women Driving New York’s Tech Scene, and as one of Techweek’s 100 most influential tech leaders. She also traveled with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Indonesia in 2011 as a member of the U.S. State Department Global Entrepreneurship Program Delegation. Huang’s work has been featured in Fortune, Inc Magazine, Reuters, and at TED-X, Broadway, and other media.

As someone who is passionate about giving a hand up to women, children, and the disadvantaged, she heads a project called Win4Causes, a for-profit venture creating positive social impacts worldwide. Some examples include building preschools, providing HIV medicines, providing scholarship funds and reducing homelessness.

“Everyone thinks you can plan your life, but I don’t think you can do that. Things change,” says Huang.

“Whatever you want to do, do it. Don’t do something just for money. If you’re young, take risks. Do something more than be part of our consumerism society. If you are living in Princeton or studying at the university, you are privileged to be comfortable and educated. You have a responsibility to do something more, something that can give meaning to the lives of others.”

Read more business articles by Lynn Robbins on


Lost and Found Pets: Giving a shout out

July 29, 2015

Just a short post today. I’m giving a shout out for Lost and Found Pets NJ.

Quoting from their website:

“We are a very small group of volunteers who try to reunite lost pets with their families. Social Media can be a very valuable tool to use for locating your lost pet. Your neighbor, your hair stylist, your mailman, etc. might see your pets picture online and contact you that your pet has been found. Or, the kind person that has taken in your lost pet will see the picture and contact you.”

If you have lost a pet or found a stray animal, learn how this group  can help:

The site also provides links to their Facebook and Twitter pages.



Finished Writing a Book, Now What?

May 10, 2015

So you’ve just finished writing your book. Great. The hard part is over, and now you’re ready to get some media coverage and sell your product. But are you, in fact, ready? Is your book newsworthy? Who is your target audience? Can you think like a journalist? Dan Smith, founder of Smith Publicity, helps authors answer these questions

A pitch to the media is more likely to succeed if a writer can show that what a book says is supported by the author’s background and experience, and if the author can show that their topic is one that matters to their audience, says Smith, whose business has implemented more than 2,000 promotion campaigns and has worked with clients in 15 countries. Founded in 1997, the company has offices in Cherry Hill and Toronto.

“We’re often promoting the author as much as the book,” Smith says. He advises that before making a pitch to a particular publisher or producer, ask yourself, “What value can my book give to his or her audience?”

For example, authors Nic Read and Stephen J. Bistritz won media coverage from several publications, including Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, and UK Business News for their book, “Selling to the C-Suite: What Every Executive Wants You to Know About Successfully Selling to the Top.”

Author Susan T. Spencer received coverage from several platforms of particular interest to women including, a television spot with Oprah, and a radio feature on NPR’s “Tell Me More,” for her book, “Briefcase Essentials: Discover Your 12 Natural Talents for Achieving Success in a Male-Dominated Workplace.”

Authors-illustrators Jack and Holman Wang received coverage in Parents Magazine, People, the Huffington Post, and others for their series, “Cozy Classics,” board books for infants and young children featuring literary classics.

Smith says that writers can get a professional book published for under $500. But to get it noticed, you need to be creative, he says. “That’s especially true today, now that the publishing world has completely exploded with 3,500 new books coming out every day,” Smith says.His promotional services include book events, reviews, Amazon optimization, social media and more. His staff includes book publicists, and marketing/social media strategists.

Book publicity is about getting exposure for the author using TV, radio, print articles or social media, says Smith. As he writes in one of his web posts, Book Publicity Tips that Actually Work: “Media coverage will help you gain exposure, reach your readership, and in some cases help establish you as an expert in your field.”

This post was adapted from my original story and event preview published in U.S.1 and at

Earn trust through social media

March 16, 2015

Luck is on the side of small business owners who want to build a strong online presences, says Samantha Hardcastle, an online marketing consultant and owner of Amore Social. Small businesses don’t need a million-dollar budget and a 15-person team to manage their marketing. But it takes more than luck to create a successful strategy that employs the best combination of social media tools for their specific needs.

Social media marketing is a form of inbound marketing, an approach based on earning a person’s interest and trust rather than buying it. “Make sure the message you’re putting out there has a call to action,” Hardcastle says. The action can be anything that prompts a customer to participate, perhaps sign up for an e-newsletter or a service, download a file, join a group, watch a video, join a webinar, get a free gift, or access an article with useful information.

Content marketing in the form of articles or long blog posts is really big right now, she says. It is a way to earn the trust of your audience by showing them that you understand their needs and interests.

Hardcastle, for example, has posted a blog on her website: “Six ingredients for successful online marketing.” What prompted the article, she says, was an experience in baking cookies. “If you mismeasure one ingredient, your dessert will be a miserable fail. This got me thinking, that baking is very similar to online marketing! If you don’t implement all of the following, your social media campaign will most likely fail,” she says. The first ingredient for a strong campaign, she says, is being able to define your desired outcome:

Ingredient 1: Strong goals: What are you looking to accomplish with social media and online marketing? Please don’t go into social media blind, without any expectations. Here are some very general ideas of what you can do:

Social media can generate more business exposure, increase traffic and improve search rankings, improve relationships and awareness amongst current customers, and find you qualified leads. But social media can’t replace traditional marketing, guarantee sales, deliver results overnight, or be a short term solution.

Once you determine your general goals, you can go on to create more specific goals and figure out what social networks are best to accomplish these goals.

Ingredients 2-6 include consistent branding; time and commitment; original content; loyal customers; and the means for measuring goals.

Social media marketing is long term, she says. You are building relationships with customers, and if they are happy with your service or product, they are likely to recommend you to friends.

“Social media isn’t a fad, it’s here to stay,” Hardcastle says.

Adapted from When a Tweet Hits Your Eye: U.S.1.

No easy answers but a few helpful questions

January 1, 2015

While catching up on some reading over the holidays, I came across some posts that have at least two things in common for me: Unanswered questions can inspire us to move forward. And — to borrow a thought from writer and speaker Seth Godin — saying “no” can be the foundation that supports our “yes.”

No New Year’s resolutions for this columnist
I’m going to pass on making New Year’s resolutions this time around. Instead, I’ll take Rilke’s famous advice about “living the questions,” and carry into the New Year a few of the wonderings Hillman’s poem evokes in me:
• How can I let go of my need for fixed answers in favor of aliveness?
• What is my next challenge in daring to be human?
• How can I open myself to the beauty of nature and human nature?
• Who or what do I need to learn to love next? And next? And next?
• What is the new creation that wants to be born in and through me?
        Parker J. Palmer: Five Questions for Crossing the Threshold. Read more

There is no arriving when it comes to writing
In writing, there is no arriving. There’s always the drive to write a better article, blog post, poem, or novel, next time.
Not to get all heavy, but as the Kabbalists say, we never kill time here on Earth. It’s the other way around: Time kills us. And we never know when that’ll happen. The turning of the year brings this unavoidable fact to the front of my mind.
        So, knowing that your time is limited, what sights do you want to see on your journey? Where do you want to be sure to go? These are the questions I’m asking myself as I contemplate my plans for next year. ….
        Carol Tice: Why Your Writing Journey Matters. Read more

There is no WAY to succeed at writing …. but there are many ways. …
Nobody can tell you how to succeed at writing (even if they write a book called “How To Succeed At Writing”) because there is no WAY; there are, instead, many ways. Everyone I know who managed to become a writer did it differently – sometimes radically differently. Try all the ways, I guess.
        Becoming a published writer is sort of like trying to find a cheap apartment in New York City: it’s impossible. And yet…every single day, somebody manages to find a cheap apartment in New York City. I can’t tell you how to do it. I’m still not even entirely sure how I did it. I can only tell you – through my own example – that it can be done. I once found a cheap apartment in Manhattan. And I also became a writer. …..
        Elizabeth Gilbert: Thoughts on Writing. Read more

Kuser Mansion Home Entertainment: Then and Now

August 25, 2014

“We were in the magic domain …” wrote the author. When the curtains parted, the silent and darkened room transformed into another realm with a fanfare of music and 20th Century Fox spotlights flashing across an 18-foot screen, once hidden but now revealed by the theater master’s cue and a pull of a chord.

Welcome to one of America’s first home entertainment centers, dating back to 1919.

The movie night described above was from circa 1940. The venue was — and still is — the Kuser farm mansion on Newkirk Avenue, Hamilton; the theater master, Fritz Kuser; and the author mentioned above, Tom Glover, Hamilton Township historian and writer/publisher of the blog known as the Hamilton Scrapbook.

Only a couple hours before the show, the 45-foot-long home-theater room would have been the Kuser family’s dining room. But when it was time for the Sunday night movie, the table would be folded up and set aside, the big oak chairs lined up in rows, folding chairs added as needed, and pillows placed up front for the children. ……..

Today, almost 100 years after the Kusers showed their first film, Hamilton Township continues the tradition.

Movies are shown monthly, and visitors can explore the projection room with its original equipment and vintage movie posters almost any weekend during house tours that are offered throughout the year…… Read more at

To get more sales, get out of your head

July 8, 2014

This article was excerpted from U.S.1, July 2, 2014. Information about events that have already passed has been deleted.

So, you have created a new product or service. You figure it’s time to tell the world how great your creation is. Not so, says marketing consultant Michael Barry. It’s time to get out of your head and instead to think about your potential customers. Do you know what they really want, and do you know how to choose and integrate your options for reaching them?

Barry offers a holistic marketing approach that combines both traditional marketing with digital and online platforms. Barry works with his clients to find the balance that works best for them and their customers. For one person, the focus might be on the company website, Twitter updates, and print advertising with a few other platforms. For another person, it might be the Pinterest website, direct mail, and a few other platforms. For another person, the mix could be different again.

Read more.



National Trails Day Hike offered by D&R Greenway Land Trust

May 7, 2014

D&R Greenway Land Trust invites the public to join staff and volunteers for a  National Trails Day Hike, Saturday, June 7. Several more nature walks take place over the next few months. (

National Trails Day Celebration at Pryde’s Point
Co-hosted with Blue Ridge Mountain Sports

Saturday, June 7
10:30am – 12:00pm
Leader: Deb Brockway, D&R Greenway Volunteer and Trail Crew Leader

Every year on the first Saturday in June, organizations around the country celebrate National Trails Day with outdoor activities.  Join us for a walk on our Pryde’s Point Trail to celebrate this year! The trail begins at one of the highest points in Hunterdon County and loops about 1 mile down to Alexauken Creek, providing a connection with the Alexauken Creek Wildlife Management Area.

Location: West Amwell Township, Hunterdon County, NJ
Stony Brook Adventure & Family Picnic
Co-hosted with the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association

Tuesday, July 8
5:30 – 7:30pm
Leader: Jeff Hoagland, Educational Director, SBMWA
Cost: $5 per person

Join us for our annual family picnic and naturalist-led walk along the Stony Brook.  Bring your dinner (drinks and desserts provided) to enjoy a picnic on the terrace and then explore the brook! The walk will introduce you to aquatic plants and animals (bring your water-friendly shoes!), and teach you about vital ecological stream functions.

Location: Johnson Education Center, One Preservation Place, Princeton, NJ 08540

Meadow Restoration at Cadwalader ParkDate TBA: Mid to late summer
Leader: Diana Raichel, Conservation Biologist, D&R Greenway

At Cadwalader Park in Trenton, we’ve turned an old animal paddock into a native meadow!  This streambank and meadow restoration project (pictured right) improves water quality, increases biodiversity and provides environmental education opportunities for the local community. Join us to learn about our restoration techniques and outreach efforts.

Location: Cadwalader Drive, Trenton, NJ 08618

More hikes are slated this summer and fall.

From D&R Greenway:

Ewing community stands strong

April 8, 2014

Community gathers to support explosion victims

With the entire audience standing, the Band Jam Finale musicians performed “Stand by Me” at the Community Strong Benefit for South Fork.

The rousing performance that concluded the March 22 event at Fisher Middle School reflects Ewing’s ongoing commitment to restore the lives of those who suffered from the March 4 gas explosion that damaged or destroyed more than 50 homes in the West Trenton South Fork development.

All proceeds from the event went to the Ewing Township Disaster Relief Fund, which was set up by Mayor Bert Steinmann for residents whose properties were destroyed or damaged.

Money received from individuals, companies and organizations go directly to the fund.

As of March 20, the relief fund had received $227,185. This amount includes $100,000 from PSE&G, $25,000 from New Jersey Manufacturers, and $10,000 from the Muslim Brotherhood, Mayor Bert Steinmann said.


You may be more creative than you think

January 26, 2014

Eureka! Surely you have experienced that moment. After hours, maybe days, of seeking an answer to a problem, you had to set it aside. You had other things to do. And then, while driving, shopping, or pouring a cup of coffee, the answer appeared out of the clear blue sky.

The clear blue sky? Not really, says David Burkus. “It came from inside your brain and had been germinating (actually incubating) in your subconscious.” Burkus — an author, educator, and founder/editor of LDRLB, an online publication named for a contraction of “leader lab” and focusing on leadership, innovation, and strategy — has been studying creativity for several years. ….

If you are the one with the idea, he says, be advised that the world won’t beat a path to your door. It will probably beat your idea down or ignore you. But he urges you to take heart and persist. Most great ideas eventually get adopted. When pitching the idea, he suggests that it will be perceived as more practicable if you connect it to more familiar ideas, such as previous successful projects or similar works.

If you are the person being asked to consider a new idea, Burkus says your challenges are just as great. In a TEDx talk at the University of Oklahoma this past January, he invited the audience to consider several questions: How am I viewing this idea? Am I clinging to a status quo that is not helping our problems anymore? Is this bias coming through? Am I valuing the old at the expense of the new?

Burkus shares his insights on 10 myths about the creative process in  “The Myths of Creativity:The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas”