At the 15th annual NJTC Venture Conference late last week, a host of NJ and tri-state companies pitched for venture dollars in six minute sessions meant to highlight their companies’ accomplishments. The well-attended conference, held in Somerset, NJ brought out 59 companies, with many tech firms participating. NY Convergence attended the tech company pitches, but there were many life science companies and even some consumer products competing for the same VC dollars.
During lunch David Sorin, co-managing partner of SorinRoyerCooper, introduced speakers Gregory Besner, CFO & managing director, data & analytics at SecondMarket, Inc. and Ari Rabban, CEO of Phone.com. Original speakers from Scanbuy were unable to attend because of a closure of the Lincoln tunnel.
Rabban’s advice to those seeking capital: get the right domain for your product; find the right advisers; believe in your dream but also expect rejection; show excitement for your idea; get a partner for brainstorming; and expect three months to stretch into a year before you actually get the financing you are after, even if you’ve signed an agreement. “There are ways to keep some kind of a day job” while keeping the dream going, he said.
SecondMarket’s Besner, who started his first two businesses in NJ, pointed out that there is a great venture capital and angel community in NJ and that NJ universities such as Rutgers and Princeton are resources for any startup’s management team.
He also addressed an audience member who asked how the company was able to attract an investment from the Li Ka Shing Foundation, which was founded by the famous Hong Kong entrepreneur, said to be one of the richest people in the world.
“The firm wasn’t seeking new capital,” Besner said, but unbeknownst to the company, Li Ka Shing was following the firm’s progress and contacted it through the foundation. After discussions began, the foundation brought in Temesek Holdings. SecondMarket saw that the partnership would open doors for it outside the US, so Besner asked for terms that “didn’t dilute us,” and got them. “They’ve turned out to be a great strategic partner,” he said.
Some of the tech companies pitching at the event included:
- Tivity — A Manalapan, NJ-based early stage location social networking app and website that connects users to local recreational events, to date self financed.
- ShoutOmatic — A Deer Park, NY-based company with an audible message platform that lets celebrity’s own voices to be heard within their Facebook or Twitter feeds. ShoutOmatic is looking for $750K to take it to the next level.
- Stylecaster Media Group –NYC-based Stylecaster closed a $4.25 million series A in 2009 and now is looking for financing for its Series B round. The company has premium fashion, beauty, music and fitness websites and generates revenue via premium advertising solutions and e-commerce lead generation.
- iBiometrics–Based in Milwood NY, iBiometrics has a secure authentication voice recognition system that was funded initially by the National Science Foundation.
- Glass Capital Research — A St. James, NY startup, Glass has tools that lets portfolio managers quantify and act on changes in market psychology based on news events. The company was looking for $300K in Series A preferred financing.
- McIsaac Risk Solutions–West New York, NJ-based McIsaac has operational risk management software for banks with assets below $10 Billion and is looking for $500K in equity financing.
- 21 Computech–Based in Toms River, NJ, 21 Computech is a software firm that acquired rights to Color Construct Code, a color code that holds a great deal more information than current bar code solutions. The money it raises will be used to design and implement customized solutions and applications based on Color Construct Code.
Awards were also given at the end of the program. In the tech sector, the award for “The Most Innovative Product Service Company” went to InstaMobile, an Old Bridge, NJ company that is looking for $1.5 million in Series A funding. The company enables online retailers to install a mobile app for iPhone and IPad that lets consumers purchase instantly. The app costs less than $500 and comes integrated with a mobile ad engine.
HeyKiki.com was awarded “Best Digital Media Company.” The NYC-based social network connects users with trusted local instructors and practice partners for activities. To date, HeyKiki is self-funded, but the company is looking for $600K from a seed fund or angel.
The “Best Information Technology” award went to ImplementHIT, a Las Vegas company that creates training solution for electronic medical health records. The company is looking for $4 million in a first attempt at financing which will be split between sales, marketing, working capital, research and product development
Phone.com took the “Best Communications Company” award. The Livingston, NJ-based company, which offers robust telephone services for very small businesses, was back to NJIT looking for a B round of financing.
“Best Management Team” went to Upper Saddle River, NJ-based Group Intelligence, which provides sales and marketing automation for the tech market. Current clients include IBM’s Tivoli and its customers and clients.