Wednesday June 19, 2019

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Brooklyn Beta Summer Camp Readies Startups

Brooklyn Beta

Brooklyn Beta (Photo credit: marc.thiele)

Craig Shapiro, startup investor from Silicon Valley, relocated to NY in 2011 and launched his seed pool for startups known as the Collaborative Fund. While on the East Coast, Shapiro met Cameron Koczon, founder of Brooklyn Beta. According to Ad Week, the two became friends and started the Brooklyn Beta Summer Camp. The program just finished its 12-week accelerator program tailored for aspiring digital entrepreneurs. Shapiro is the key adviser to the camp, which is run out of Fictive Kin, a small digital company that produces apps. Koczon’s team runs the camp and Koczon himself chose five startup teams from over 300 submissions, giving each $25,000 in seed money from nine local sponsors.

The teams in the first session differed from one another, from a B2B fashion marketplace to a video-making mobile app. Throughout the 12 week program, the startups visit Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn to critique each other’s work. At the end, there are two demo days in front of some of NY’s biggest tech personalities. The goal is to raise more money from these VCs to keep going after the $25,000 runs out. However, by the end of the twelve weeks, Shapiro had revealed a twist– that he felt as though the startup bubble may soon burst. He said, “It’s made for a lot of excitement, but it hasn’t created a lot of sustainable businesses. In 2013, the pendulum will be moving back toward the middle after a period of overexuberance.”

Here’s a breakdown of the program, week-by-week:

  • Weeks 1 and 2: During the week of July 18 the five teams meet in a bar in Long Island City. Koczon opens the discussion by describing himself as an “Airbnb hobo,” saying that he regularly travels to various US cities for brainstorming events and hackathons. All of the groups are then asked to sign contracts, which gives Brooklyn Beta 6% stake in return for the $25,000 investment. the teams introduce themselves to one another. Koczon tries to motivate with encouraging words.
  • Weeks 3 and 4: The teams meet at startup Sticker FM‘s Bushwick Brooklyn warehouse space in early August. After catching up, the teams start to discuss updates on their progress and next steps. The teams give constructive criticism to one another about logos and other aspects.
  • Week 6: In mid-August the groups convene at Skillcrush, one of the startups, headquarters in Manhattan. again the teams give each other advice and criticism following up from the previous meeting.
  • Weeks 9 and 10: Now in early September, the teams close in on their finishing product development and start to prep for the demos. A few groups have switched their names. Shapiro and Koczon discuss increasing Collaborative Fund’s involvement.
  • Week 12: Demo days are rapidly approaching. The teams work on their narratives for their presentations.
  • Demos (October 10-13): There are 300 attendees at the Brooklyn Beta conference, which the demo days are a part of. Many walk off the stage successful.
  • Post-Program, Weeks 13 and 14: The second demo day presentations were cancelled by Koczon and rescheduled as individual presentations. At this point, Shapiro is the camp’s primary investor, giving $50,000 to each team.


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