New Jersey Startups Abound at NJTC Venture Conference

So many Garden State startups  attended the New Jersey Tech Council Venture Conference that was unable to get to every booth. However, while wandering through the aisles, we saw a few startups we knew and others whom we met for the first time.

Photo: Daniel Kling of Folded Structures Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Daniel Kling of Folded Structures | Esther Surden

We stopped by the booth of Folded Structures Company (Ringoes) and talked to the founder and president, Daniel Kling. At first glance, it looked as if he were just selling specialized structural materials. But we later learned that the tessellated material he was demonstrating had been developed using a specialized software algorithm. Kling told us, “We here today to promote our software, which people can download today. We are looking for 200K to help with sales and marketing.” FSC specializes in algorithms for manufacturing structural sheet materials though a novel tessellated folding process that can lower manufacturing costs. Customers include aerospace companies, packaging companies and automotive materials.

Photo: The Sign Up Hub team Photo Credit: Esther Surden
The Sign Up Hub team | Esther Surden

The booth for Enrichment Made Easy, the Mendham startup that operates The SignUp Hub, was staffed by partners Connie Calabrese, founder and CEO, and Nora Noll, senior vice president. Calabrese said, “We have a multifunction [Software-as-a-Service] platform that is used for registration and signups for volunteers and incorporates all of the accounting and payment systems” that an organization would need. The company is targeting nonprofits and out-of-school programming associations like booster clubs and church groups. While the startup does face some competition, “there isn’t a lot of the competition that does all the functions, including payment within one system, without having to integrate side systems into it.” In their executive summary, the two noted that this market is late in adopting online payments, so they are poised to take advantage of the opportunity.

As we made our way through the exhibits, we met up with Krishna Malyala, cofounder of TLCengine (New York), a startup that began in 2013 at Startup Weekend Madison, N.J. TLCengine calculates housing affordability, including utilities and commuting costs, using its own patent-pending method. Malyala told us that by the summer TLCengine will have more than 120,000 real estate agents on its platform, or about 12 percent of the U.S. total population of real estate agents. “We’ve taken over two public-facing websites, and will have well over a half million users each month on our platform.” He said that the startup has taken off because of its message: “It’s all about affordability.”

At the Trendalyze (New Brunswick) booth Lisa Jung, chief business development officer, filled us in on this company, which uses a pattern search method for the Internet of Things. One example, she said, was a company that wanted predictive information on how machines are failing. They would embed sensors into the machine parts they wanted to monitor, and the data would stream onto the company’s cloud-based platform. Analysts would then visualize the data, find a pattern of machine failure and apply that information across the entire database, so they could know with certainty when, where and how the machines will fail. They’d then be able to fix a problem before it became a bigger problem.

Photo: The team from Simple Cremation Online Photo Credit: Esther Surden
The team from Simple Cremation Online | Esther Surden

We found that the folks from SimpleCremationOnline (Chatham), who were pitching their website, had a lot to say about their platform, which enables funeral homes to put some of their services online. Cofounder Scott Bradley told us that the company has built a network of 27 funeral homes across the U.S. Families can save money by going online to make their arrangements, according to Bradley. “We’ve positioned ourselves as a market-maker. There is no one else building a website like this that has this level of functionality and also connects such a high-quality network of funeral homes.”

Photo: Sid Vidaver of Current Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Sid Vidaver of Current | Esther Surden

At the Current  booth, founder and CEO Sid Vidaver told us about this energy saving company, whose official name is “Got Current” (Teaneck). “Our goal is to help consumers save on their energy bills,” he explained. “We do this by helping consumers use less and pay less. This is all based around our monitor, which provides real-time data visualizations. We also help people pay less for what they use by engaging in a brokering market.” The company helps provide real-time quotes from third-party lower-cost providers, so that consumers can see if switching is actually worthwhile. Got Current makes money by receiving a broker’s commission from the third-party providers, he said.

Contacts In Motion is a Manasquan-based digital advertising and marketing company. At the conference, we spoke to cofounder Christopher Grohman. The company’s platform connects local businesses to local shoppers and diners, he said. “We’ve launched a pilot called ‘Jersey Shore in Motion’ that has been online for the last year and now serves about 200 mom-and-pop stores on the Jersey Shore.” The startup is now scaling the solution to other markets. “It’s a reskinnable platform with analytics,” said Grohman. “Every small business that works with us gets to see how many people viewed their happy hour info or their menu and their live entertainment.” Grohman added that the company’s website features unique content, such as “25 Burgers on the Jersey Shore That You Have to Try,” and that the company puts out information without gimmicks like a daily deal or rewards program. “We simply give people information. …We drove about 700,000 unique visitors and 1.4 million page views last year,” he noted. That was a significant increase over the year before. “Now we are looking to scale and replicate.”   

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