Wearable technology from identity technology start-up Token.

New York Ventures: Investments Unlocking Innovation in NYS

An identity ring called Token will act as a digital key for its wearers across an array of access points—from doors and cars to computers and mobile payments—without physical keys, cards or passwords. Token’s biometric, encrypted device helps to authenticate users through a combination of fingerprinting and optical proximity sensors.  An accompanying software platform will allow the wearable security device to be integrated across a number of platforms.  Token pilot testing has begun in New York City, with launch approval expected by summer’s end.

The New York State-grown invention is boosted by investment from New York Ventures, which manages the state’s innovation investment funds, and announced earlier this year that its New York State Innovation Venture Capital Fund (NYSIVCF) will invest $1.75 million in the technology.

The investment is in keeping with the program’s goals of targeting strategic industries that support advanced technology and manufacturing in helping to build the state’s innovation economy. Token’s co-founders, Melanie and Steve Shapiro, are alumni of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the devices will be manufactured at RIT’s Venture Creations Incubator in Rochester.  In addition to New York Ventures, additional investors include Hadi Partovi, the CEO and founder of Code.org, Blockchange Ventures, NEO and many of the original seed investors in the company.

New York Ventures, launched in 2015, meets the critical capital needs of New York State’s innovation economy by providing funding to high-growth startups as they move from concept to commercialization. New York Ventures provides equity investment capital to early-stage technology-based businesses through direct investments and fund-of-funds.

While Token is unlocking new ways to provide digital security, New York Ventures has invested in other tech-driven companies that are innovating in a number of areas and industries, creating new jobs and opportunity.  In addition to the NYSIVC Fund, the (soon to be fully -committed) $47 million Innovate NY Fund/Fund-of-Funds, which began investing in 2013, has seen successes from seed -stage equity investments, including:

  • Plated: The Innovate NY Fund, which invested $1.23 million in Plated, a premier meal kit service, achieved its first major exit in 2017 with sale of Plated to Albertsons Companies, one of the nation’s largest grocery retailers. A 2.25X return on its investment could see an increase to 5X or more, with additional distributions expected over the next few years.
  • ACV Auctions: The Buffalo-based advanced mobile platform, enabling car dealers to view, bid and buy cars through an online auction, was a winner of Round 2 of the 43North business idea competition in 2015. The Innovate NY Fund investment in ACV totaled $900,333; the company secured an additional $32 million in matching funding that will allow continued platform innovation and expansion to the West Coast and 70+ markets around the country by year’s end.  
  • TARA Biosystems: The NYC-based drug discovery company, with $2.75 million in investments from both the Innovate NY Fund and the NYSIVC Fund, was cited in 2017 as one of Red Herring’s top 100 North American companies in tech and a 2018 finalist in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards for its work developing cardiac tissue models that allow for safer development of reliable and more effective new medicines.

For more information about New York Ventures, visit: esd.ny.gov/doing-business-ny/venture-capital