The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) held its twice yearly Founders & Funders event on April 27 at the EDA’s Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT), in North Brunswick.
The EDA holds this event to foster the startup community in New Jersey by connecting founders to sources of funding. More than two-dozen New Jersey technology and life-science startup CEOs had the opportunity to meet potential investors in ten-minute face-to-face meetings.
NJTechWeekly.com spoke to some of the startup founders who attended this event. For the most part, the founders were very excited by the potential investor matches the EDA had made, and thought their meetings went very well.
This is part one of a two-part series.
Responsive Health (Secaucus): Ed Berde, cofounder and CTO of Responsive Health came to Founders & Funders with Pavin Choksi, vice president of corporate development, and they had a full roster of investors to meet. Berde is the former CEO of Retail Shopping Systems (Clifton), a TechLaunch company. We spoke to him after he had had a few early meetings
“Responsive Health is bringing digital medicine out to enterprise-level health systems,” Berde told us. “We are a spinoff from the Mount Sinai Health System (New York). My cofounder, Ashish Atreja, MD, MPH, is chief innovation and engagement officer at the Mount Sinai Health System. He also runs the App Lab there.
“Our flagship product, RxUniverse, was created within the App Lab. It’s a platform for prescribing digital medicine such as apps, wearables and therapeutics that have gone through clinical scrutiny to prove that they increase health outcomes. We package those together, and we bring the package to other health care systems. We allow doctors and care teams to prescribe digital medicine in a similar fashion to how they prescribe regular medications,” he said.
Asked about how the meetings with investors went, Choksi answered, “The meetings have gone really well and we seem to be right in the wheelhouse for a lot of these venture firms.” Berde added, “We did get some good advice. Martinson Ventures (Newtown, Pa.) discussed our valuation with us, which was really helpful. The best thing coming out of these meetings is that we are getting follow-up meetings with a lot of these investors, so ultimately we hope we’ll be able to move forward with this.”
MAINGEAR (Kenilworth): Speaking to us from MAINGEAR were Wallace Santos, CEO, and Ron Reed, technical marketing director. We covered MAINGEAR in a recent article on a Jersey City Tech Meetup. Santos said, “We build the world’s best gaming PCs. These PCs are used for e-sports competitions. They are used at home to play games against friends online. Some of our PCs are used for computational analysis as well because they are so powerful. Think of us as the Ferrari of gaming PCs.”
The PCs, he said are built here in New Jersey, with one craftsman building each machine, putting together exactly what the user has specified. “It’s all about the craftsmanship,” he added.
Regarding that day’s event, Santos said that he had received good advice at his meetings with VCs and angels. “They have been very enthusiastic. As you know, right now, e-sports is very hot, virtual reality is hot, PC gaming is hot. That’s what we do.
“I’m just an enthusiast who built a business, not a real CEO. I’m just a guy who loves what he does. So, getting advice from experienced people is invaluable,” he said. “For example, we got advice on raising money. Even though we are a multimillion-dollar business, I’ve never raised money before, so they advised us what to do and what not to do. … We are trying to take our business to the next level, and having good people around is what matters.”
Solutionize (Upper Saddle River): Solutionize is a five-year-old information-sharing network company represented at Founders & Funders by cofounders Peter C. Watts and Alelie Llapitan. “About two years ago, we got into healthcare and built a platform called ‘TeamPatient,’” Watts said. “It’s a patient-driven network to help patients, families and caregivers to connect and coordinate healthcare with everybody in the continuum, including practitioners, hospitals, helpers, friends, care givers and others.”
When asked about the investor meetings, Watts said that he liked the fact that everyone they met was well-matched to them: “We fit within their profile. It was very efficient for us.” Two of the three investors they had met expressed a real interest in them, he said. And he received some interesting advice. “One of the three suggested that we could consider the rollup of companies [into a larger entity] because of the many companies our solution touches. That is something that is in our experience. We’ve been building companies for years. We sold a company to IBM 18 years ago.” Another investor thought they could partner with a company in their investment portfolio. “That wasn’t surprising,” he said, but it could work out.
Alfrea (Absecon): Alfrea, which NJTechWeekly.com covered in depth here, empowers people to grow their own food, even when they lack land, time or experience. “We are also working with corporations to help their employees become healthful by eating whole foods,” David Wagstaff, founder, told us.
The “meetings have been exciting so far today,” he noted. “Investor’s Circle (Philadelphia) feels like a great fit for us because of their focus on social impact and their triple bottom line approach. We think we are a triple bottom line company that can be good for society, good for the investor and good for the folks in the company as well. They suggested that we focus on the triple bottom line when we pitch them, and they said that either their Philadelphia office or New York would be a good fit. The Investor’s Circle in New York has a focus on food; however, we are probably more geographically aligned with Philadelphia. The investor we met with said she would coach us," Wagstaff said.