The second half of the Newark Venture Partners Labs Demo Day at the Prudential Center in January featured pitches from the rest of the Fall 2017 class. All of these companies were in residence in Newark for the three-month-long program.
Gabriel Ruttner went up to the stage to talk about Ursa Tech (New York), which is a tool that companies and teams can use to capture the important parts of what’s said in meetings. Ruttner, cofounder of Ursa, noted that when people go to meetings, they usually scribble down some notes, but they leave out the context as to why this or that note was important. “This is even worse for teams, where each individual in that session wants to remember something different for their own reasons.” All the information is in people’s minds or in their handwritten notes.
Ursa is leveraging recent advances in speech technology and artificial intelligence to transform the way we extract insights from meetings. It is “capturing everything said in a structured way, simplifying how we can highlight these key moments within conversations, and then easily sharing those moments with those who need to know,” Ruttner said.
The startup begins by capturing everyone’s voice through its own distributing microphone system. “But, more importantly, we capture important moments as they are happening, using our tag tunnel, nonintrusively,” he said. “Later, using this extra structure, we can jump straight to these phrases that we knew were vital … We can fix our transcriptions and begin to package these things into sharable assets that the rest of the team can quickly consume.”
Ursa is targeting User Experience teams and consultancies because they have a large number of high-value conversations with customers that “directly impact performance.”
Speaking for Ziel (New York), Marleen Vogelaar, founder and CEO, said that her company is an on-demand apparel designer/manufacturer for brands and retailers that want to sell their own line of high-performance athletic wear. With Ziel, she said, there is no required minimum for orders and delivery is in less than 10 days.
To explain how the product is used, Vogelaar gave the example of an owner of a growing chain of spinning studios – Charlie – who wants to sell her own brand of high-performance clothing, but doesn’t want to make the $15,000 investment that manufacturers typically require. “We basically design, manufacture, ship and ultimately finish rare collections for our brands and retailers, all completely on demand.” And the startup helps brands monetize by integrating with standard point-of-sale and e-commerce software, as long as they can give Ziel access to their communities.
Manufacturing on demand also eliminates waste and overages, which are endemic in the apparel industry, Vogelaar said. “Ziel has built the integration layer that integrates and empowers all the traditional steps in the retail chain that actually make it possible to manufacture and ship and deliver on demand,” she said.
By the time of the pitch, the startup already had $1 million worth of committed sales and was growing rapidly.
Peter Verrillo, founder and CEO of Hoboken-based Enhatch, a patient-driven technology and software company, pitched the release of Fit2Kit an end-to-end solution that enables medical device manufacturers and orthopedic surgeons to easily plan patient specific procedures, ship reduced levels of inventory and educate surgeons and patients on the benefits of the procedure.
Prior to Enhatch, Verrillo worked in the medical device manufacturing space, where he launched a number of products for the orthopedic market, including hips, knees and shoulders. During that time, he and his team aided over 5 million people to walk and run again. Verrillo began to notice the process also created inefficiencies in the system by bringing "a ton" of inventory into surgery rooms.
"A single surgery could require that over a quarter of a million dollars of salable goods be brought in to complete the procedure, but would only generate a few thousand dollars in revenue," said Verrillo. “The implants and instruments would then get packed up and shipped back to the manufacturer to be reprocessed and it is very expensive to do this."
Verrillo and his team saw an opportunity to fix this. "We have the ability to streamline the process and make it more efficient." Enhatch can take any radiographic image (such as a CT scan, MRI, or X-ray) of the patient's anatomy, and "within seconds" convert it into a three-dimensional model that can be properly sized for a standard or custom fit implant. The device manufacturer can then send the model to the surgeon on their mobile phone, he told the audience.
"They can see the implant, they can make adjustments, they can make changes and select what's going to be delivered." Instead of a quarter of a million dollars in inventory arriving in the surgery theater, a "handful of instruments that are critical to the surgery" are all that will be delivered.
"What we are really excited to say is that last year we shipped 12 million medical devices, delivered to the hospital through our software … This isn't a dream. It's live and it's being used." As it entered the accelerator, Enhatch closed a $1.4 million capital round, Verrillo said. He pointed out that his team had a combined 90 years of experience in medical devices and logistics.
Last to speak on Demo Day was Joshua Karam, cofounder and CEO of Hyr (New York, with an office in Newark), which has built a skill-share platform for hourly paid labor, a marketplace for the new sharing economy.
Speaking about Hyr, Karam said, “Our business users today are in hospitality and retail, hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and more. And their challenges really center around access to skilled labor fast. Also, overcoming the rise in labor costs that all of us probably hear about. Minimum wage just went up 18 percent, and at year end, it goes up to $15 an hour. And the third challenge is really managing you staff in a way today that is often handcuffed by a swath of legislative changes that are impacting your ability to do so.
“From a worker’s perspective, what they want most in today’s new economy is access to a supplemental income fast. They want freedom of flexibility to work differently than many of us did before. And they want security and benefits that come with a traditional full-time or part-time job.”
Hyr is a mobile platform designed to connect hospitality and retail businesses with hourly paid independent labor, all on-demand, to fill holes in schedules as the need arises. Filling these holes because someone calls in sick or business spikes has always been a challenge for businesses. The workers using Hyr have the ability to create a profile on the app and look for available shifts in their region based on their interests or schedules. “One of the greatest features of Hyr is that within a matter of hours, not weeks, the funds from their shift get directly deposited into their bank account.”
To simulate benefits that people may lose when they are part of the sharing economy, Hyr created “Your Points,” which are points that go toward benefits that are portable for the entire time workers spend in the Hyr system. The points are earned on each shift; and at a certain threshold, they “bubble up and are redeemable for paid vacation days … It’s enabling workers in our system to allocate those points to whatever means the most to you … days off, health and dental, personal savings, community support and more.”
The startup has launched its solution in Toronto, Canada, and New York City, and is preparing to launch in Newark.