Kevin Hesselbirg, former OpenLink CEO, and Michael McEntee, former InterDigital Director, named initial Entrepreneurs-in-Residence
Melville, NY – Accelerate Long Island announced the creation of an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program to provide Long Island start-up companies with mentorship from experienced business executives. The EIR program is part of “Accelerate Assist,” which is a broad initiative that builds teams of mentors, professional service providers and MBA students from Hofstra University and Stony Brook University around start-up companies.
Accelerate Long Island’s initial EIRs are Kevin Hesselbirg, the former Chief Executive of Uniondale-based OpenLink, and Michael McEntee, former Senior Director of Corporate Development at InterDigital Communications LLC in Melville.
During Mr. Hesselbirg’s tenure at OpenLink, the company grew from less than $20 million in revenues and 100 professionals to over $325 million in revenues, with a global team of over 1,250 employees and over 500 global customers. InterDigital Communications LLC develops fundamental wireless technologies that are at the core of mobile devices, networks and services worldwide.
The EIR program is free for identified early stage high-tech start-up companies and will provide those companies with mentorship and assistance. Accelerate Long Island examined other successful EIR programs around the country as it developed Accelerate Assist, including CONNECT’s Springboard program in San Diego.
Mr. Hesselbirg and Mr. McEntee will mentor start-up companies that are part of the Accelerate Assist initiative to help them bridge the “valley of death,” the sensitive time period before a start-up company reaches profitability.
Accelerate Assist will also match start-up companies with teams that have expertise to suit their needs. For example, Accelerate Long Island is currently working with several law firms that specialize in intellectual property that will provide advice on patents and intellectual property issues. Company formation and company management are also issues that early stage start-ups face, and Accelerate Long Island has recruited corporate lawyers and accounting firms that can help start-up companies address these needs. The teams will also have the ability to assist the start-ups with company strategy, business plans and market strategy.
Initial participants in the Accelerate Assist program include the following firms:
- Farrell Fritz, P.C.
- Carter, DeLuca, Farrell & Schmidt LLP
- Harris Beach PLLC
- Nixon Peabody LLP
- Ruskin Moscou Faltischek
- Ernst & Young LLP
- Berman, Sosman & Rosenzweig, LLC
- CohnReznick LLP
- EisnerAmper LLP
- Frankel Loughran Starr & Vallone LLP
- Nussbaum Yates Berg Klein & Wolpow, LLP
Accelerate Assist is one of three Accelerate Long Island initiatives for high-tech start-ups, which also includes Accelerate Funding and Accelerate Ecosystem. The Accelerate Funding initiative involves Accelerate Long Island’s $500,000 seed fund that makes investments in high tech start-ups and is matched by $750,000 in private investment from the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund. Accelerate Funding is also working very closely with the Long Island Angel Network to provide one-stop-shopping for start-up companies seeking early stage funding.
The Accelerate Ecosystem initiative focuses on start-up networking and building Long Island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. For example, Accelerate Long Island recently entered into a strategic alliance with the Long Island Forum for Technology (LIFT) and the Long Island Software Technology Network (LISTnet) to create a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem on Long Island.
Accelerate Long Island is also working with existing Long Island Entrepreneur-in-Residence programs to expand the mentor network available to early-stage start-up companies.
The Stony Brook University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has a Technology Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Matt Stadler, who has a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University and played co-founding CFO, COO and CEO roles in several technology companies. Mr. Stadler will provide free mentoring to assist entrepreneurs with commercializing their technology, preparing for funding and growing their companies.
Accelerate Long Island is also working with the Center for Advanced Technology in Diagnostic Tools and Sensor Systems (Sensor CAT) at Stony Brook University, which has a technology Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Lawrence Weber, Ph.D., who also serves as the Business Development Manager for the Center Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT). Mr. Weber assists start-ups with company strategy, building prototypes and assisting with the framing of product patent portfolios.
“After meeting with high tech start-up companies and discussing common barriers to success, Accelerate Long Island launched Accelerate Assist to meet the early stage needs of start-ups. Our seasoned and experienced entrepreneurs-in-residence will provide valuable mentorship that could mean the difference between failure and prosperity during the fragile early stages of a high-tech start-up,” said Mark Lesko, Executive Director of Accelerate Long Island, “Accelerate Assist, Accelerate Funding and Accelerate Ecosystem will provide the start-up community with what has been sorely missing on Long Island – access to early stage capital, mentorship and a community and culture of entrepreneurship.”
“I commend Accelerate Long Island in applying national best practices in innovation to their new Accelerate Assist initiative. Accelerate Assist and the EIRs will nurture early stage companies and put them on a path to success, profitability and job creation, which will positively impact the regional economy,” said Kevin Law, Chairman of the Board of Accelerate Long Island and President and CEO of the Long Island Association.
Kevin Hesselbirg added, “I am excited to be joining Mark Lesko, my fellow EIRs, as well as other members of the Accelerate Ecosystem to assist the exciting and talented entrepreneurs of Long Island execute on their vision to create both new products and technologies, as well as the all important job creation, that is associated with successful entrepreneurial ventures.”
Michael McEntee said, “I am very pleased to support Accelerate Long Island in its efforts to assist local start up companies in becoming successful. Long Island has valuable technology being developed within its research institutions. The Accelerate Assist program can help create the companies that will commercialize those technologies.”
Accelerate Long Island was created in 2011 to foster the development of an innovation-based economy on Long Island. Long Island’s world class academic and research institutions have approximately $1.2 billion in annual research funding. One of the major goals of Accelerate Long Island is to commercialize that research into start-up companies in three industry clusters: information technology, biotech/life sciences, and energy. Accelerate Long Island’s Board of Directors includes the leaders of Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Hofstra University, North Shore-LIJ Health System and Stony Brook University, as well as the Long Island Association, CA Technologies, Canrock Ventures, Ernst & Young, Farrell Fritz, P.C., the Rauch Foundation and Jove Equity Partners.
If you are a start-up company and interested in participating in Accelerate Assist, please visit www.accelerateli.org or contact us at (631) 493-3024.
Kevin Hesselbirg joined OpenLink in May 1999 and in 2012 became Vice Chairman of the Board. Mr. Hesselbirg initially joined OpenLink as the Chief Financial Officer and two years later transitioned to Chief Operating Officer. In September 2007 Mr. Hesselbirg was appointed Chief Executive Officer where he helped transform OpenLink to a multi-national industry leading commercial software and professional services organization with seven operating divisions located in seven countries. Mr. Hesselbirg began his career at Ernst & Young LLP, where he ascended to the position of Audit Manager in the specialized privately owned and emerging business group, providing both audit and business advice to high growth businesses primarily in the medical technology industry. He holds a BS from Fordham University where he graduated valedictorian of the class of 1987.
Michael McEntee spent 13 years at InterDigital Communications LLC. At InterDigital, he evaluated companies and patent portfolios for acquisition and was also responsible for product management of cellular wireless technologies. Prior to that he was responsible for business development and marketing of semiconductors and silicon production services at Standard Microsystems Inc. Mr. McEntee began his career as a design engineer for Grumman Corp. He has an Executive MBA from Hofstra University, a Master’s Degree in Computer Science and a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Polytechnic University.