New Jersey Startups Take Majority of Winning Slots at NJTC Venture Conference

Photo: Networking on the 2016 Venture Conference floor Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Networking on the 2016 Venture Conference floor | Esther Surden

If you were a New Jersey startup, the New Jersey Tech Council Venture Conference on April 7 was simply the place to be.

At this premier event, more than 40 startups presented two-minute pitches and showcased their companies at booths throughout the expansive conference space, at MetroTop in Iselin.

The meeting also included introductory remarks from Michele Brown, president and CEO of Choose New Jersey (Princeton); remarks from Mitchell E.  Rudin, CEO of Mack-Cali (Edison); and a keynote speech from Rachel Holt, regional general manager of Uber (Washington, D.C.).

A funding panel moderated by Alan Wink, director, capital markets, at EisnerAmper (Iselin), discussed added value that VCs and others can bring to the table.

James Barrood, president and CEO of the New Jersey Tech Council, announced that the NJTC Venture Fund would be raising more money for further investment in New Jersey’s growing tech companies.

Below we’ve profiled some of the winners:

  • Care Navigator: Cranbury-based Care Navigator was voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” The company’s management team is full of folks who have extensive experience in the healthcare tech field. Care Navigator is a shared-care-management platform for health systems and accountable care organizations that will allow them to get teams working on the same page to improve targeted quality measures.


Photo: CEO Frank Dombroski and Marc Baskin, VP of Finance and Operations, FlexWage at their booth Photo Credit: Esther Surden
CEO Frank Dombroski and Marc Baskin, VP of Finance and Operations, FlexWage at their booth | Esther Surden
  • FlexWage Solutions: Mountainside-based FlexWage was voted “Best Management Team.” FlexWage has a patented software platform called “WageBank” that allows employees to access accrued wages before payday, combatting the scourge of payday lenders. spoke to President and CEO Frank Dombroski at the show. He told us that his company’s biggest news was that it had signed a partnership agreement with ADP (Roseland), which has integrated WageBank into the ADP payroll,  time and attendance platforms. “Their employers can now turn FlexWage and WageBank on for their employees without going through an integration process,” he said.
  • Futurestay:Futurestay (Somerset) was voted “Best Software Company.”  It has a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that automates the process of renting out a vacation home. It instantly generates an e-commerce platform for a vacation rental property, and can turn a website into a hotel quality platform. 

Photo: iVocate receives its award for Best Civic Tech Company. Photo Credit: Esther Surden
iVocate receives its award for Best Civic Tech Company. | Esther Surden

  • iVocate: Philadelphia-based iVocate took home the “Most Innovative Company” award. Founder and CEO Shari Shapiro presented for the civic tech company, which is building a business-to-business SaaS advocacy management platform for trade associations, advocacy organizations and corporate government affairs or legal departments. It provides a service that connects like-minded organizations and lets them manage advocacy coalitions and campaigns through a single platform.
  • Navinata:Navinata Health (Princeton) won the “Investor’s Choice” award. That pre-seed company described its business this way: “With increasingly competitive drug launches and continually declining pharma access to physicians, there is a clear need to more effectively arm MD’s with customized education and on-demand expert support from pharma.” They are planning an on-demand pharma-MD knowledge exchange platform.
  • Physiclo: New York-based Physiclo was voted “Best Health Tech Company.” It has a line of active wear with integrated resistance bands and panels that “pushes your body to work harder and burn 14 percent more calories during your workout.”
  • Shopography: Shopography (New York) won “Best Early Stage Company” for its mobile-first product discovery-and-purchase platform that lets consumers find, share, curate and discuss products and trends. Shopography is counting on making the word-of-mouth side of shopping available through apps.


Photo: Dennis Wilson and Todd Murphy, cofounders of Sunowner Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Dennis Wilson and Todd Murphy, cofounders of Sunowner | Esther Surden
  • Sunowner: Basking Ridge-based Sunowner was voted “Best Green Company.” spoke to founder Dennis Wilson. His company is a digital energy efficiency marketplace. He believes there is a $100 billion opportunity to upgrade the efficiency of homes nationwide, and his company offers a four-pronged solution. There is a home meter that monitors electrical consumption, shows in detail how much electricity an appliance is using in real time, and calculates the projected bill for a particular month. “This begins to educate the consumer about their energy usage. Then, we provide recommendations based on their energy usage about what kind of energy they should receive from us.” Finally, the company provides financing and arranges installation.
  • TOMO!TOMO! (Hackensack) won the “People’s Choice” award. The company was represented by two of the cofounders, CEO Frank Ozoria and CFO Alfonzo Smith. TOMO! is a mobile application that links multiple social media accounts and lets users share instantly. Users will get one single code, or “handle,” that lets folks find them on all social media accounts. TOMO! wants to set/raise the bar for “social convenience.” It targets multi-networkers who use several social media apps to engage their audience. The company has long-range plans that involve custom analytics and helping companies understand “social pollination.”

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