NJ Company Roundup: Startup News


StartupValley, a Saddle Brook-based equity crowdfunding portal startup, launched its beta site on August 7, 2012.

The portal anticipates the regulations being written under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act but allows investors to preregister.

Founder Daryl Bryant is a partner at Order Online Industries , a managing partner at Hudson Venture Partners and president and CEO of Hudson Horizons (Saddle Brook), an integrated Web agency specializing in web design, development, search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC) and social media marketing.

In an email, Bryant said he had launched StartupValley to “help fellow entrepreneurs in the tech sector raise the capital they need to get their startup off the ground” and is determined to turn it into a successful venture.

In the beginning stages StartupValley is being created and managed through Hudson Venture Partners, Bryant noted. “We will potentially seek a round of Series A funding when the opportunity is right,” he added.

The startup will know more about its fee structure once the regulations are written, since there may be an industry standard set forth. “Once the SEC rules are released and we’re a fully functioning equity crowdfunding portal, we will apply a percent fee to the funds raised only if a project is successfully funded. If funding isn’t successful, there will be no charges,” Bryant said.

Another startup, Parsippany-based Revelstone, which NJTechWeekly.com first noticed at a Venture Association of New Jersey event last year, was accepted into the inaugural Code for America (CFA) Acceleratorin San Francisco. The company’s Compass software is a cloud-based performance management system for municipalities that helps them improve operational efficiency. CFA is a nonprofit trying to make government more like the Internet: more open, efficient and collaborative.

The accelerator is CFA’s first civic startup incubator, designed to help governments by providing new technological solutions. The CFA Accelerator program hopes to “turbo-charge” select civic startups by providing them an opportunity to amplify market awareness of their product, access a wealth of business training and advice and be introduced to a broad network of potential investors and civic leaders.

In an interview, CEO Ken Wolf said his team was one of seven selected from more than 230 applicants and that he, COO and cofounder Mark Nelson and CTO Rob Gordy will be the primary team in residence at the accelerator one week a month. As the four-month program evolves, they could reach out to Vice President of Marketing Lisa Minneci, for example, to join them.

Each team is provided a $25,000 grant to work on its business. “We can work in their offices if we want, and we may do so because it could give us access to people who can help us with some of our product development direction and marketing,” said Wolf.

Nelson found out about the accelerator via Twitter and, after investigating, brought it to Wolf’s attention. “We thought we were a perfect fit,” he said. “They provide resources and opportunity to companies like us to help America run better and bring government into the 21st century from a technology standpoint. We hoped to gain advice and guidance on how to run our business and best penetrate the government market space. We also knew they would be able to connect us to the investment community, particularly government-friendly investors.” The company also thought connections with mentors could raise its visibility to municipal governments.

“We are looking forward to working with all the incredibly bright people who have volunteered to contribute their time to help the companies in the accelerator succeed,” Wolf said.  He added he hopes to be able to leverage the power of networking with his fellow accelerator businesses. While all the startups have different products, there are similarities in the markets they are going after and they can learn from one another, he said.

Wolf noted that he feels like a New Jersey ambassador to the hustle-filled startup atmosphere in San Francisco. CFA’s offices are “around the corner from Twitter and Zynga, and it’s an amazing place to be. I feel it helps the greater high-tech world to be aware that there is some good stuff happening in N.J. in the tech sector. … Don’t count us out because we’re not Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley.”

In other news, Local Wisdom, a Princeton Junction app company founded in 2011, released a mobile game called “Wooble Attack” to the Apple App Store last week. The firm makes the Weatherwise and Photomash mobile apps. “We’ve evolved from a weather app and a photography app to a mobile game,” said Vice President Shawn Venkat, who oversees the R & D team. The game “uses a diverse and evolving set of character animations,” according to a company statement. “We once again pushed the boundaries of our expertise and created a novel, creative product,” Venkat said.

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