So, who are the seven startups that form the NVP Labs accelerator class during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown?
The founders include former employees of Google, Spotify and Dropbox, and a former Princeton professor, as well as four female founders and four founders of color, according to Newark Venture Partners.
Four of the companies are from New Jersey, and two of those were established in Newark. The companies represent the healthtech, supply-chain tech, voice and fintech verticals.
This cohort raises the number of companies in NVP’s portfolio to 82. The participating start-ups were chosen from more than 2,800 applicants. NVP Labs provided the descriptions for the selected startups, and they are as follows:
- ABF Creative is a one-stop-shop advocacy platform that enables minority podcast producers to create, distribute and monetize content across all of the major streaming platforms. Brand advertisers are able to contract with ABF Creative to get a sizable reach to this unique and valuable audience. Founded by Anthony Frasier in Newark. [Frasier is a familiar face in the New Jersey tech community, as he was an early founder, supporter and catalyst in the Newark tech startup ecosystem.]
- Clearstep is an AI-driven virtual triage and care-routing chat tool that uses simple dialogue to understand patients’ needs and then get them to the appropriate care, with complete transparency around out-of-pocket costs and reviews. The Clearstep solution allows care providers to better engage with and convert patients, and it’s a solution for health insurers who are looking to guide members to cost-efficient, in-network care. Founded by Adeel Malik, David Zbarsky, Peter Garber and Bilal Naved in Chicago and New York.
- Sounder.fm is an end-to-end audio platform built in collaboration with creators, for creators. Sounder is a one-stop shop that lets creators host their podcasts, distribute them, make them discoverable and get paid for their craft — no matter how large or small their audience. Founded by Kal Amin and Daniel Daugherty in New York.
- Vikar Technologies’ Client Lifecycle Management and Loan Onboarding and Loan Servicing solutions provide digital transformation and workflow automation for the front, middle and back offices at banks and wealth management firms. Their enterprise software onboards and maintains clients and loans in a complete, end-to-end digital experience. The company is led by cofounder Glenn Bolstad, and headquartered in Old Bridge. [We interviewed the Vikar team at the New Jersey Tech Council’s 22nd annual Venture Conference.]
- VendX delivers a completely customized, interactive, touch-screen vending machine experience for consumers — complete with prizes, giveaways or purchase options — while delivering valuable consumer insight and data to the partner brand. Brought to life by the award-winning team at InCharged and the innovators behind the LuxUVC disinfectant technology. Founded by Jessica Gonzalez in Newark. [We’ve seen VendX’s InCharged hardware several times, and it has been featured at the Propelify festivals. Here is a NJTechWeekly.com article that covered Gonzalez.]
- FleetOps works with fleet brokers to give direct access to available and vetted drivers via exclusive access to mandated telematics companies. The company matches supply with demand and uses the power of market liquidity to fill partially full trucks, identify backhaul opportunities and win more business. Founded by Chris Atkinson in Toronto.
- Optimal Dynamics was founded to bring breakthrough technology called “High Dimensional AI” to automate and optimize the logistics and supply chain industry. It helps companies optimize assets while managing third-party capacity and enabling true dynamic planning and highly automated operations. Founded by Daniel Powell and Warren Powell in Princeton.
Many of these founders have already had to adapt during the COVID-19 crisis. For example, the founder of VendX made a pivot from her interactive event-tech hardware startup to bootstrap a bunch of LuxUVC sanitizing machines, which use ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light, and is now sanitizing small businesses and essential workplaces for free.
According to the Clearstep team, COVID-19 continues to reveal our healthcare system’s limitations (both for emergency and nonemergency situations), and has rapidly made telehealth more widely utilized. Clearstep helps ensure that people get to the right service provider as quickly as possible, the team told us. It is currently being used in major health systems in Florida and Connecticut.
COVID-19 has expedited the on-demand/delivery economy, and continues to show the limitations in this country’s supply chains. So we’re going to need all the efficiency in these systems that we can get, said the founders of FleetOps and Optimal Dynamics. FleetOps works with fleet brokers to provide direct access to available vetted drivers, while the Optimal Dynamics AI application helps optimize and automate the full middle-mile and full-truckload components for logistics companies.
According to Vikar Technologies, if the Paycheck Protection Program is any indication, our financial system is not set up to help people receive financial support en masse; and, coming out of the crisis, people are going to need all the loan help they can get. Vikar can help make that process easier for small to mid-sized banks and their customers.