Number of “Don’t Miss” Meetings Coming this Holiday Season
Photo: Networking at the 2016 Princeton Tech Meetup holiday event Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Networking at the 2016 Princeton Tech Meetup holiday event | Esther Surden

There are a number of “don’t miss” opportunities for the New Jersey tech community to meet each other, find out about tech entrepreneurship, explore cutting-edge tech and learn from great speakers between Thanksgiving and the New Year, and we’ve highlighted just a few here.  Check our Events Page for more.

TechLaunch BullPen—Nov. 29

The TechLaunch BullPen pitching event takes place Wednesday Nov. 29 at 4:30 PM at Monmouth University, 400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, NJ. "The series of “BullPen” pitch events (similar in concept to “Shark Tank”) is where a select handful of (3-4) tech startup companies pitch their business plans to a panel of investors and mixed audience. Each presenting team is screened, mentored and prepared to make a 10 minute Investor type presentation to a panel of 4 Investors and successful Entrepreneurs."

Scarlet Startups—Nov. 29

Two of the area’s investors will be at Scarlet Startups in Piscataway on Nov. 29 to talk about the “Ins and Outs of Raising VC Investment.” Speaking will be Jonathan Hakakian, of Soundboard  Angel Fund. Hakakian co-founded SoundBoard Angel Fund with Richard Magid to build a community of experienced entrepreneurs to formally invest in early-stage companies outside the major city centers. He has raised capital for the fund, directed the diligence process into a growing portfolio of 20 companies, and coached many of the portfolio's entrepreneurs on their journeys. Bill Carson is a Managing Director at Hudson Ventures, a NYC based venture capital firm. Bill’s interests include financial technology, wireless, and information security. He was responsible for Hudson’s investments in Pivot, Guardent and Integral Development, where he currently sits on their board.

Blockbuster Meeting on Blockchain – Dec. 4

Interested in blockchain technologies? Want to know more about Cryptocurrencies? The Morris Tech Meetup is presenting a special holiday program Dec. 4 called 2017 Block & Coin Summit: Navigating the Cryptoconomy. The four hour event including dinner costs $35 (+ processing fees).

The keynote speaker is Alex Mashinsky, Founder/CEO of Celsius, a P2P decentralized credit protocol based on smart contract technology. Alex is an investor, ICO advisor and early entrepreneurial leader in the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency industries. www.celsius.network.

There will be two panels. Panel One: Trends in Cryptocurrency - Moderated by David Postolski of Gearhart Law, this panel will explore much of the excitement and confusion around the cryptocurrency space. Even the common consumer has heard of Bitcoin's meteoric rise, due to the 850% gain in one year (as of 10/26/17) and Ethereum's gain of over 2,600% in the same timeframe.

The second panel will discuss trends in Blockchain. Moderated by David Sorin of McCarter & English, this panel will explore the less sexy, though much more profound, side of the Cryptoconomy, the underlying foundation that makes it all happen. Some of the questions panelists will answer are: What are the business model cases best able to take advantage of the Blockchain? How important is the Blockchain to the development of new technological capabilities able to change the way business is being done in many companies?

Focus on New Jersey Startup "All Stars" with the NJ EDA—Dec. 6

Monday, Nov. 27 is the last day to register for the NJ EDA’s special Founders and Funders “All Stars” event Dec. 6, which will feature a pitch competition between some of NJ’s best startups. This is the first time the EDA has put together one of these events, which will feature a panel discussion with some very accomplished entrepreneurs.

Speaking will be Fred Dirla, CEO, Austere Solutions – Dirla, a serial entrepreneur, is now CEO of Austere Solutions, which focuses on interim executive positions, as well as advisory and consultative services. Dirla’s most recent exit was FieldView Solutions, where he was the CEO & Founder of the venture-backed enterprise software company. FieldView Solutions was the first company to receive financing through New Jersey’s Edison Innovation Green Growth Fund when it closed on a $1 million growth capital loan from the EDA in 2012. 

Rick Kushel, CEO, DealCloud -  Kushel is a three-time founder member of entrepreneurial businesses, and is now at DealCloud, which was founded in 2010 to provide Customer Relationship Management, deal management and business development software for principal investing and M&A advisory professionals.  Previously, Kushel was a strategic advisor to the innovations portfolio at The Blackstone Group, which he joined in 2007 to become CEO of a technology spinout which became iLevel Solutions. Prior to Blackstone, Kushel was Chairman and CEO of Archive Systems, Inc., a leading on-demand document management company he founded in 1991.

Dennis O’Dowd, Partner, Crosswalk Ventures – O’Dowd has over 20 years of business experience in private equity financing and mergers and acquisitions.  O’Dowd recently co-founded Crosswalk Ventures, a fund dedicated to investing in the healthcare and life sciences industry.  Prior to Crosswalk, O’Dowd was a principal at Ivy Capital Partners Management, LLC, which managed two orthopedic-focused venture funds with over 20 investments, spanning start-ups through public company rounds.


Dr. Ashish Vengsarkar, Ph.D., CEO, Nistica - Dr. Vengsarkar founded Nistica, a leading supplier of optical subsystems that power telecommunications networks, in 2005. Shortly thereafter, Nistica received a $1-million Edison Innovation Fund investment from the EDA. Batelle Ventures was also an investor in Nistica, which was acquired by Fujikura in 2012, but has continued to operate as a Fujikura subsidiary.  After beginning his career at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill in 1991, Vengsarkar went on to launch his first telecommunications start-up, Photuris, in 2000. Throughout his entrepreneurial career, he has raised over $150 million in venture capital funding, has structured numerous strategic partnerships with international corporations, and has served on Boards of numerous start-ups and mentored many young entrepreneurs.

Heavy Hitters at NJ Tech Council Tech Day

If you want to see some heavy hitters in tech, come to the NJ Tech Council’s Tech Day at NJIT, Thursday Dec. 7.

Acceleration will be the topic of lunch with a talk by Sean O’Sullivan.  O’Sullivan is managing partner of Princeton-based SOSV, the world-leading “Accelerator VC”. With $300 million assets under management, SOSV backs more than 150 startups annually through its accelerators. It was recognized in 2017 as the world’s #1 most active global early stage investor and the #2 most active global seed investor, SOSV’s accelerator model takes a small initial stake in startups and provides a framework and community where startups get further and faster than they could on their own. Following his talk there will be pitches from regional accelerators, incubators and coworking spaces.

Then the annual Data Summit will conclude the afternoon. UPS’s Kim Felix will kick off the program. Felix is Vice President of Information Technology for UPS, a $58 billion global corporation with one of the most recognized and admired brands in the world. UPS is a leading global provider of specialized transportation and logistics services managing the flow of goods, funds, and information in more than 220 countries and territories worldwide. She will be followed by two panels and then a networking reception will close out the day-long event.

Network with the Princeton Tech Meetup --Dec. 14

NJTechWeekly attends the Princeton Tech Meetup holiday networking event every year, and it is always a great place to meet the members of the Princeton tech community. The Princeton Tech Meetup is 5,500 members strong and growing, and hundreds of those members often stop by to mingle, eat some tasty food and visit the booths around the parameter of the community meeting room at the Princeton Public Library. Often the mayor of Princeton stops by.

Some other important events:

Check our events page for additional events.

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