Founders Take Away Valuable Lessons from NVP Labs Program
As the companies in the Fall 2019 class of the Newark Venture Partners (NVP) Labs program prepare for their Demo Day, on January 15, we asked each of the startups about their experiences at the B2B accelerator.
Specifically, we wanted to know about one important lesson they had learned since being in the NVP Labs program and how learning that lesson has benefited their startup. Their answers are below.
To see these companies pitch, and to hear from Audible Executive Chairman Don Katz, register for Demo Day here.
Matt Smith, founder and CEO of Speak2 ( Holmdel):
The startup: Senior living is a $69 billion industry, and is expected to grow to $80 billion by 2023. Speak2 replaces the inefficient push button currently used by residents to call nurses with voice software that routes a spoken request to the right support team member. It also allows for better resident communication and logs, and syncs health requests with the electronic medical record system. Working with facilities across the U.S., Speak2 has reduced staffing costs by half and increased resident fees by 10 percent.
“NVP has helped me focus on communications and the value of keeping things clear and simple. This has benefitted us tremendously when speaking to clients. After NVP helped us revise our sales messaging, we did a meeting with a client that was so much more effective that the client asked, in that first meeting, to schedule a pilot with us in January. Typically, that would be a two- or three-meeting process, but because we were able to articulate our value in a clear way, the customer got it, and said, ‘Let’s do this. We need what you have.'”
Ashley Edwards, founder and CEO of MindRight Health (Newark):
The startup: Despite the fact that youth mental health issues have roughly doubled over the past five years, there has been zero innovation in the in-person therapist model, which carries a heavy stigma, particularly in communities of color. MindRight provides culturally responsive mental health coaching via text messages, the highly preferred form of communication for young people. Customers include AmeriHealth Caritas (Philadelphia), one of the largest Medicaid insurers in the country looking to tackle social determinants of health within the youth population.
“I’ve learned how to better listen to the market to determine product–market fit. We came into NVP understanding narrow use cases of our service, and after conversations with NVP’s LPs [Limited Partners], we’ve realized just how great the opportunity is for us to impact even more people across markets.”
Obaid Ahmed, founder and CEO of Botmock (Ottawa, Canada)
The startup: Chat and voice are rapidly becoming the required methods of interaction. Botmock is a leading platform that enables cross-functional teams to collaborate, design and test conversational experiences. Botmock, whose major clients are Delta and Nationwide, deploys projects five times faster and with improved results.
“Being part of NVP Labs has helped us in creating a proper enterprise-sales playbook at this early stage. With help from mentors, we were able to devise a precise process — from initial contact to closing the deal. This has helped us increase our close rate, and enabled us to focus on a pricing structure that can help us grow in 2020.”
Patrick O’Flaherty, cofounder and CEO of SpeechKit (London, U.K.):
The Startup: Over the past few years, driven by new technologies and the rise of podcasts, audio has become a priority for news publishers. SpeechKit allows publishers to automatically generate, distribute, track and monetize audio editions of their news. Utilizing the latest text-to-speech technology, combined with a news-customized natural-language-processing pipeline and integrations that fit naturally into newsroom workflows, the service is the only complete solution to audio news publishing. Live on 100+ news sites, serving millions of impressions per day, SpeechKit liberates news from the page for a generation on the go.
“During our time with Newark Venture Partners, we’ve learned to spend more time asking our customers questions. This has helped us better understand their needs — allowing us to add value where it matters most.”
Kyo Ku, growth manager at omniX labs (New York):
The startup: While nearly a billion commercial cameras are deployed worldwide, these video feeds represent an untapped value. omniX uses machine learning and a computer vision platform to analyze video feeds and deliver analytics and predictive insights, and no integration is required. With an initial focus on logistics and quick service retail, omniX has improved conversion rates by up to 35 percent, and has optimized operations.
“Our team is confident about our product superiority in the two verticals we currently operate in. All of our early customers saw our technology and required little convincing or ‘salesmanship’ to adopt it. While this gives reason for excitement about our growth, it also created flaws in our sales process. Thankfully, we had our sales mentor, Kevin Petry, point out these blind spots and refine our approach to sales. Kevin methodically explained the importance of a thorough discovery process and understanding each prospect’s unique expectations. Though it can be tempting — due to our own excitement/confidence — to list out all of our product features during a demo, this approach kept us in the dark throughout the sales process regarding what each customer truly cares about. By building trust through structured discovery, however, we are able to maintain control of the conversation, shorten the sales cycle and increase the average contract value. Thanks Kevin!”
Brahm Meka, CEO of Brahmin Solutions (Stamford, Conn.):
The startup: Sales inventory management has become increasingly complex, as sellers need to coordinate across various distribution channels, such as B2C e-commerce, big box stores like Walmart and wholesale. Brahmin Solutions is the only inventory-management platform that allows for management across all channels. Current clients have reported a 35 percent increase in revenue and a 40 percent increase in operational efficiency. Brahmin’s superior product has grown 20 percent month over month via word of mouth alone, and it’s now ready to scale.
“The NVP Labs program was instrumental in helping us to write a sales script, and the mentors were very hands-on when it came to fine-tuning our customer conversations. The team also helped us finalize our pitch deck and more clearly articulate the problem and our solution in a way that would resonate with investors. Finally, the connections they helped us make with investors have been key, and have opened new doors for us as we continue to grow.”
Jas Maggu, cofounder and CEO of Galaxy.AI (Cambridge, Mass.)
The startup: Insurance carriers spend 12 percent of their revenue (policy premiums) to process claims because they require manual vehicle inspections. These expenditures have amounted to an $80 billion problem globally. Galaxy.AI eliminates this cost through AI and computer vision technology that helps users take the best quality images and provides instant analytics of the damage. Galaxy.AI has decreased loss-adjustment expenses by up to 70 percent for current pilot clients, and cut the estimation time by half, thereby improving customer satisfaction and saving over $15 million annually for its clients.
“The NVP team was really helpful in identifying and refining our product positioning within the market. They were also great at getting us in front of, and connected to, other investors — not only at Demo Day, but at various other events throughout the program. The Sneak Peak event stands out especially, where we had the opportunity to pitch small groups of high-level investors, hand picked for our companies.”