Before the startups began their pitches at Demo Day June 27, Newark Venture Partners Managing Partners Tom Wisniewski and Dan Borok spoke to attendees about how being in Newark has helped NVP attract great startups and corporate mentors who really care about the young companies’ success.
Borok noted that NVP Labs has a unique investment strategy predicated on three pillars.
Pillar 1: “We are focused on business-to-business software and service companies. We feel that this is where our expertise supports us the best, and we are excited about our potential for value creation in this market. We have some sub-themes such as healthtech, fintech, the future of voice for the enterprise, the future of work. We are doing that in a unique model, where we start as investors in the pre-seed stage and support our companies as the institutional lead through seed and all the way through Series A.”
Pillar 2: “The second pillar is our corporate access. A lot of venture firms these days have relationships with corporates through their logos through some access, but our corporate partners are investors in our fund, which means that they have a vested interest in seeing our startups succeed.
What we’ve done is built a 500 person corporate mentor network, which Tom and I and our team rely on for diligence before we make an investment, and our portfolio companies get to tap into this network post investment to help their companies scale up.”
NVP’s corporate backers and partners include Audible, Prudential Financial, Panasonic, TDBank, Dun & Bradstreet, RJWBarnabas Health and Horizon Blue-Cross Blue Shield.
Pillar 3: The third pillar is NVP’s idea of community, he said. “We are building a community that is both physical and digital.” We want our portfolio companies to interact, share lessons learned, wins and challenges with each other, and they can do it digitally through Slack or social media or even email. They can do it physically in our 25,000 square foot space here in Newark.
“We don’t think we can do this anywhere else.” Borok
We don’t think we can do this anywhere else. We couldn’t do it in New York, or San Francisco or Boston or Palo Alto, because we couldn’t find corporates who care, we couldn’t find companies that believe in our double line mission of producing returns and stimulating the local economy, and we certainly couldn’t find the kind of low-cost office space that you can get right here in Newark, just a train ride away from New York City,” Borok said. “We are really excited and we think that Newark is our competitive differentiator.”
Wisniewski went on to say, that NVP Labs wants to accelerate growth in Newark, but Newark is doing it all by itself. Addressing the audience, he noted the tremendous boom in construction in the city. He noted that people walking from the train or the parking lot to the Prudential Center could see for themselves the redevelopment going on.
He mentioned a few projects, including the Ironside building near the Prudential that will have office space as well as retail space on the first floor, and One Theater Square which will have a couple of hundred luxury apartments, “that follows on the heels of the successful lease-up of the Hahne & Co. building.” He also noted that Shaquille O’Neil and some financial partners have built a 30 story building near the NJ Performing Arts Center and that L&M Development is working on a great art deco building that used to be home to NJ Bell and, later, Verizon. According to the L&M website, “Built in the 1920’s and a great representative design of architect Ralph Walker, this building, with its grand lobby and distinctive façade, is to be adaptively reused to support 265 mixed-income apartments, offices and ground floor retail spaces.”
He also noted that companies, both large and small are moving into Newark again, including Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S. which is bringing about 500 jobs to Newark, Broadridge Financial which brought 1000 people to Newark, and even small companies like Credibility Capital, a fintech company innovating in the loan space which is bringing 20 people to Newark and pledges to grow to 20 more. “This is what we want to see.”
Earlier in the day, Wisniewski mentioned that NVP Labs was grateful for the support of Senator Cory Booker. As he concluded his remarks about Newark being NVP Lab’s competitive advantage, Wisniewski mentioned that Governor Phil Murphy’s platform, which is all about technology development and technology-driven companies as the driver for the New Jersey economy, “provides a space in which we all will be able to thrive.”