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Saturday April 19, 2014

NY Convergence ORIGINAL

Startups Pitches, Email Marketing at NJ Tech Meetup

A view of the gatehouse at Stevens Institute o...

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by Esther Surden

At a meeting earlier this week of the New Jersey Tech Meetup group at the Howe Center at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, about 130 tech founders, angels, developers and others gathered to network and listen to three startups pitch their new ventures. Mad Mimi (Brooklyn, NY) chief of culture Dean Levitt, the featured speaker, spoke about the basics of email marketing.

The evening started with networking, then announcements.  Ken Kay, a software developer and angel investor, announced that he is starting a tech accelerator for founders interested in developing products for the enterprise. The accelerator, to be called “ecelerator,” will be located someplace in the Newark/Hoboken area.

Aaron Price, NJ Tech Meetup founder and an entrepreneur himself, discussed Mission Fifty, the new co-working venue on Harrison Street in Hoboken, and invited founders to try it out. A raffle — featuring an hour of consulting time with David Sorin, a New Brunswick lawyer with SorinRoyerCooper who is active in N.J. startup ventures– was held to benefit the Boys and Girls club of Hoboken.

Winning the audience choice award for startups was Artsicle.com, a NY-based website that rents curated art to novice collectors so they can try it before they buy it. Artsicle recently completed its seed round of funding and the founders just began paying themselves. The company puts photos of works of art from respected but emerging artists up on the site, and then ships the art to users who pay a $50 monthly fee. Half of the fee is applied towards the purchase of the art, if the collector decides to keep it.  Alexis Tryon, co-founder of Artsicle, said that the company was developing a recommendation engine that allows people to choose between different types of art to come up with a selection of art they might like.

Also presenting was Talisman Guidance Solutions of Hoboken, a company that revamps the way colleges and universities approach their guidance of students. The company has software called Horizons that helps guidance counselors figure out student career directions and learning styles, offering them the optimum courses to get them to graduation on time. President and CEO Matthew Wade said the software helps students with their current degree/career planning disconnect: students invest thousands of dollars into their education but graduate with a major that doesn’t help them in their career.

The last presenter, Krassimir Fotev, founder of Peer Belt in Harrison N.J, spoke about his search software that leverages “passive user activity” in the browser to improve search results and information discovery.  The software can discover relevant browsing history and keep it readily available to inform new searches. The product, which is only available on the Mac OS in beta right now, integrates with existing search engines.

MadMimi’s Dean Levitt’s takeaway for the evening was that email marketers should keep everything simple and entertaining. Marketers shouldn’t try to cram a web page into an email. Text should go straight down in a column because “we don’t naturally gravitate towards reading multiple column emails.” Levitt’s talk was punctuated with tips startups could use in their email marketing campaigns, and startups attending left with a special offer for services from the company.