Highlights from Cohort 5 Kickoff


For the first time in more than two years, the Luminate accelerator was back to in-person meetings, workshops, and networking events for the start of cohort 5. Our startup teams flew in from around the world — Germany, Spain, Canada, India, and both coasts of the U.S. — to meet us in Rochester, New York for week one of the program. Their visit included baseline discussions with our directors and Advisory Board Chair, Don Golini; quick pitches to members of the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster; and a seminar on customer discovery with NextCorps’ Director of Startup Incubation, Matt Foley.

Cohort 5 at Sibley - April 2022

We welcomed cohort 5 to our facility in the famous Sibley Building in downtown Rochester, with delicious lunch-time fuel from Mercantile on Main restaurants throughout the week.

Cohort 5 group shots - April 2022

The cohort isn’t official without a group shot, plus new headshots for founders. (Thank you, Sue Zeccola!)

Cohort 5 at Roc on Tech - April 2022

Kickoff week fell during the ROC on Tech 2022 full-day conference, with a keynote from Apple co-founder and tech legend, Steve Wozniak. Some of our founders were able to ask the Woz questions during Q&A.

Fast Tech Pitch 2022

The teams presented to members of the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster (RRPC) at the Tech Fast Pitch. This annual event is an opportunity for the startups to showcase their technology and talk about what they need from potential partners in the region to help them get their technologies into the market.

Cohort 5 startups also kicked off their time in the accelerator with training on:

  • Lead generation with Joe Morone, Performance Consultant and Co-Founder of Worldleaders Sales Solutions.
  • Business models with Candice Sheffer, Managing Director of Finance & Administration at NextCorps.
  • SBIR funding with Kirk Macolini, Founder, President, & Principal Consultant of InteliSpark.
  • Pitchbook, the leading source for public and private capital market news, reports, and data tracking. Each team gets their own Pitchbook account as part of the Luminate program.
  • Becoming an Excel master with Jeremiah Hammel, Assistant Controller at NextCorps.

We’re looking forward to having the teams back on-site later in May!

Portfolio Updates

Bigger, better robo-balls. Bounce Imaging donated its Recce 360 Mini cameras — 360° optical imaging balls that offer unprecedented situational awareness — to aid forces in Ukraine, calling Russia’s Sphera robo-ball a cheap imitation.

Helping the world see in 360°. Circle Optics scored a feature in the Rochester Beacon on its Hydra camera, recent government contracts secured, and the potential of its technology to democratize immersive experiences for people around the world.

New sales lead for space tech startup. SCOUT Inc. recently announced the hiring of Ozge Polson as Director of Commercial Business Development to support its mission of making space sustainability and safety a reality. Polson previously advised multiple space industry startups and managed several multi-million dollar programs for top defense companies.

Addressing the Skilled Labor Shortage in Optics

Alexis Vogt PhD and Josanna DeNataleThe shortage of optics technicians is a global problem that, if not addressed, will significantly impact growth, innovation, and technical advancement. The American Center for Optics Manufacturing (AmeriCOM) and Monroe Community College’s nation-leading optics program are working together to increase access to optics technician training programs across the country and expand awareness of the many opportunities within the optics industry.

Learn more about this important collaboration through an interview with Dr. Alexis Vogt, Endowed Chair and Professor of Optics at MCC, and Workforce and Higher Education Executive Director at AmeriCOM; and Josanne DeNatale, AmeriCOM National Marketing Manager.

PODCAST: Constructing Compelling Grant Proposals

Grant Writing from the Ground Up Podcast with Damon DiehlIf you’re a researcher, scientist, or engineer, you likely have to convince strangers to give you enormous sums of money at some point in your career. Grant Writing from the Ground Up — a new book from Luminate’s Technology Program Manager, Dr. Damon Diehl — offers a step-by-step process to construct compelling grant proposals that rise to the top of a reviewer’s stack. Damon discusses his motivation for creating a resource for stronger grant proposals, and what readers can expect from his new book on the Forward Faster podcast. Watch/listen.

WEBINAR RECORDING: The Fundamentals of Fundraising

How to Financially Plan for What Your Business Needs

Luminate’s Managing Director, Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, co-led a workshop last month with Mario Fallone of Harter Secrest & Emergy LLP on the different funding stages for growth and considerations for each. Watch the recording for Sujatha and Mario’s insight on ways to raise capital.

See You Next Month!