New group of start-up backers

  • Director of the MaXTMakerspace, Roy Schlieben works on the Makerspace’s laser cutter. Schlieben is helping to facilitate a group of investors which he hopes will be able to back some of the creators who use the Makerspace as an incubator for their businesses. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, September 11, 2017 7:42PM

It’s the main and immediate concern of every entrepreneur looking to start a business: Finding the money to do it with.

And after watching innovators leave town because they couldn’t get their businesses off the ground, a group of investors wants to be a source for that start-up funding.

“We’ve seen small businesses leave town because they can’t get the help that they need,” said Stan Fry of Peterborough, one of the investors of the newly-formed group, who are calling themselves Our Town Capital. “We want to help create an environment of entrepreneurial spirit. You find that if you get one person thinking about business, you’ll get another and another.”

Our Town Capital came together through discussions with Peterborough’s MAxT Makerspace and Keene’s Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship.

Fry characterized the group as an outcome of an ongoing conversation in Peterborough about how to increase economic development and attract young families to the Peterborough area. Although Fry said that, despite the name referring to Peterborough specifically, the group is really looking to back businesses in the general Monadnock region.

The Makerspace has been cultivating its own ways to boost its creators, to help take them to the next level, according to Roy Schlieben, director of the MAxT.

“We’re trying to take people who have talent, and help with that process to get to the point that they might be able to attract financing,” Schlieben said.

And Hannah Grimes works as an incubator for businesses. But neither organization has the ability to financially back new businesses.

That’s where Our Town Capital can fill the gap.

“There are lots of things in life that can create a barrier to starting a business,” Schlieben said. “Knowing these resources are available may make a difference in encouraging someone to make that leap.”

The group includes about 10 to 12 investors, who have agreed to weigh business pitches for young businesses and contribute equally to costs to help them get on their feet. The group represents a variety of entrepreneurs who have had success developing businesses in the area, in a variety of fields, including in the technology, manufacturing, real estate and service sectors.

Schlieben said there are already two local businesses that are interested in presenting to the group to see if it might be interested in financing them: a software company in New Ipswich and a web application company in Peterborough.

And though those two businesses are both computer-based, Our Town Capital isn’t looking to narrow the market on the kinds of businesses it might back, Fry said. Rather, the group is interested in what the company might be able to do for the region.

“What kind of people does it attract? How many jobs does it create? What is the impact on local real estate? All of these things,” Fry explained of what he would consider before investing in a start-up.

Fry said it was difficult to predict at this point how many businesses the group may be able to assist, but said he would consider the project a success if in a few years, there were at least two or three, each employing a group of people.

The group plans to hold its first meeting on Sept. 26 at 45 Main St. at 5:30 p.m. Entrepreneurs who are interested in presenting a pitch to the group should contact Our Town Capital through a brief application on Our Town Capital’s website, ourtown.capital, or contact Roy Schlieben at info@monadnockartxtech.org or 554-2459.

(Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.)