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Launch of New Company & Brand

I am so proud to lead our team through the building of our new brand and mission, the Hudson Valley Center for Innovation aka The Center.

We have been on a journey since our launch of Accel7, our startup accelerator program, in the Spring of 2019, when we hosted our first startup cohort program with five founders. At the time, we partnered with KOI Creative Space, a local coworking space in White Plains, NY, (who has since expanded to several spaces), secured 12 expert service professionals across customer, product, operations, strategy, brand, sales, and fundraising, and recruited five early-stage founders with the tenacity to launch and grow their concept or venture.

Within one year of our first cohort, which we named Clermont, after the first steamboat built by inventors and engineers in the Hudson Valley, we executed several more cohorts with 15+ startups alongside 25+ partners and expanded offices to downtown New Rochelle, NY, and Rhinebeck, NY through public-private partnership initiatives. Meanwhile, startups who participated since the first cohort were continuing to grow through funding, revenue, and user traction, including Lessonbee, SportsHi, and Capri, all recognized now as rising startups servicing children, families, and communities in a multi-pandemic market.

Central to our method through our first handful of programs was the team’s stalwart commitment to introducing and advancing wellbeing for entrepreneurs as well as their teams and families. Having experienced stress of varying degrees as an entrepreneur myself, including working through mental and physical health challenges during a period of time while building ventures, I speak often about the essential need to re-create mindset and toolset for entrepreneurs and teams to maintain quality of life for themselves, not just for their users, clients, and/or investors. All entrepreneurs and teams who work with us at The Center learn - or are reminded - that they must show up as a person in order for the business to show up as a solution in the world.

As of the beginning of 2020, our perspective was that we were, under the Accel7 banner, starting to develop a unique and proven approach to building and launching pre-money and pre-seed startups led by design-thinking, mindful founders, many of who were female and minority entrepreneurs, focused on solving Environmental-Social-Governance (ESG) problems. The goal was to scale our cohort model to create hundreds of mindful and masterful startup founders and teams deploying ESG solutions backed by early-seed venture services, because our experience was, at the time and is even more so now, that early service providers and investors were continuing to move up-stream looking for later ventures and larger opportunities.

Then, with the slam of the COVID-19 pandemic, just as my wife and I were due with our fourth child in mid-March and our team was scheduled to execute our Spring 2020 startup cohort at our new offices at the Train Station in New Rochelle, everyone had to shift operations to virtual and digital at our own point of transition. Almost immediately, my partner, Johnny, The Center’s Head of Research & Development, started finding ways to, as we said at the time, do more good work for the startups and the small businesses who are driving local economies.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our team expanded our perspective on helping entrepreneurs survive and thrive in the most challenging economic environment in recent memory. We launched new partnerships with municipalities, counties, nonprofits and community organizations to connect, launch, and train entrepreneurs and employers.

As a result, our team built new programs, services, and tools to respond to business needs, helping 100+ businesses along the way. Recognizing a transformation in vision and mission, we are proud to announce the launch of the Hudson Valley Center for Innovation (HVCI aka the Center).

The Center captures all of our work with students, startups, and small businesses in the Hudson Valley, with offices at the Train Station in New Rochelle (Westchester County), CoWork Kingston in Kingston (Ulster County), and CO in Rhinebeck (Dutchess County).

HVCI Connect is our digital and in-person community providing entrepreneurs, employers, and partners with access to networks, relationships, tools, funding resources, business intelligence, ESG insights, public and private events, and more.

HVCI Labs is our research initiative teaming-up regional university and college faculty, research centers, college and high school students, analysts, technologists, and creatives to support and enrich ongoing scientific and topical research with the goal of developing marketable solutions to solvable ESG problems.

HVCI Launch aka Accel7 is our original accelerator program for pre-seed startup founders/teams building and launching ESG solutions to improve quality of life for others, with focus on developing a path from “zero to first” product, client, teammate, and/or money.

HVCI Train is our partnerships program collaborating with governments, corporations, and investors to empower and grow later-stage ESG ventures, main street and small businesses, accelerator programs, and nonprofit organizations to design and implement resilient growth strategies

We must succeed, altogether. Entrepreneurs today, especially in a multi-pandemic economic environment, need just as much operational and growth support as funding, in particular mindset and toolset development, to succeed themselves. With local economies being challenged by affordable wage and housing, as well as additional stressors such as the talent and leadership development and retention, governments and corporations alike are looking for partners to build and strengthen communities of entrepreneurs, artists, students, businesses for continued innovation.

The Hudson Valley Center for Innovation has the team, talent, and tools to deliver impact, as we have since 2019. What remains most true to us still is that we will always go to entrepreneurs on the ground. This work will continue to be driven by our three core values of building Community in local economies, growing Teams that are mindful and masterful, and advancing Wellbeing of families, businesses, and communities.

When I was 15 years old, my father told me that I should start a business helping children, because parents would do anything for their child(ren). I still consider this wonderful advice, because it serves as a framework for thinking about serving those who are in the most need, and has helped me discover my vocation as an educator and leader. Entrepreneurs and teams of all kinds - students, startups, small businesses, nonprofits - are in need of support to build, launch, train, and grow, and most certainly during points of transition and transformation. As we have seen, those we help are more mindful and masterful, showing up as persons in order that their businesses show up for users, clients, and partners.

Keep going, and always let us know what you are in need of and/or searching for in your transition to your next point of growth as an entrepreneur or team.


Daniel E. Potocki aka Danny

PS - Email me at with any thoughts or initiatives, or reach out to our Community Team at to join our Slack Channel.

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