More than a month has gone by since the third cohort of startups at NVP Labs pitched to a crowd of 500 people in January.
The event was hosted at the Prudential Center, the home of the Devil’s hockey team, and audience members were invited onto the ice before the pitch competition to demonstrate their skill at scoring goals.
We’ve written an article about Newark Venture Partners’ contribution to the Newark tech ecosystem.
All of the startups covered in this two-part article were in residence at NVP Labs for the three-month program, and many now call Newark their home.
Up first to the platform was Amanda Weeks, cofounder and CEO of Industrial/Organic (Brooklyn, N.Y.), who noted that more than $160 billion worth of food is being thrown away in the U.S. each year. Her company has patented technology that “transforms wasted food that is originally bound to faraway landfills into salable, beneficial products in just a few days. We also generate electricity with bacteria.” The company does not use anaerobic digestion or create methane gas, she said.
Industrial/Organic uses vacant industrial buildings in urban areas to process the garbage “with zero odor and emissions,” Weeks added. “Not only do we provide waste management services in a massive global market hungry for solutions, but the nutrients, water, organic materials and energy that our technology reclaims from wasted food tap into a combined $700 billion market.”
Right now, the company is looking at two smaller categories, launching a multi-surface cleaner and disinfectant that’s a safer and healthier alternative to Lysol-type cleaners, as they’re made entirely from food waste, and an organic fertilizer that acts as a bio-stimulant, “one of the fastest growing product categories in agtech.”
Mark Smukler, cofounder and CEO of Bixby (Newark and New York), pitched his early-stage technology company that makes it easy for property managers to provide top-quality services to residents.
“Despite being the largest industry and asset class, real estate has been a late adopter of technology,” he told the audience. A new generation of tenants is demanding more connected, efficient and sustainable communities; and property managers are looking for tools to handle things like inspections and maintenance calls that will attract good tenants, he said.
Bixby is an “easy-to-use, affordable Web and mobile platform that makes it easier for property managers, saves them time and money in handling inspections and repairs, and collecting payments,” and it eliminates the complicated back-and-forth phone calls. This creates a better experience for tenants, leading to higher retention and less turnover.
Smukler said that since he launched Bixby, in June 2016, the company has grown an average of 30 percent month over month. At the time of this pitch session, the company had 7,000 tenants and residents, who sent over $1 million in rental and common-charge payments. It was also helping managers handle thousands of maintenance requests. “Moving into 2018, we remain heavily focused on increasing our market penetration through signing enterprise-level customers with over 1,000 units under management, moving towards our goal of having 50,000 units on the platform by the end of 2018.”
The company plans to monetize itself by means of platform fees paid by property managers to use its services; transaction fees paid by residents, who send in rental and common-charge payments; and affiliate commissions, earned by recommending products and services to the user base. These could include recommendations of service providers such as locksmiths, handymen,and movers.
[Additonal info: “We process over a $1M in rent payments EACH MONTH and have processed over $10M since launching!” ]
BOTique (Tel Aviv and Newark) is a conversational artificial intelligence platform built for enterprises that want to automate chatting applications at scale, said Yoab Yanovski, cofounder and CEO. “The entire BOTique team came out of Israeli intelligence, where we served for seven and a half years working on AI projects with defense applications.” Yanovski said that his startup has created a next-generation AI platform.
He noted that there has been a clear shift to text-based communications channels, specifically chat. While the older generation used to prefer to pick up the phone, and dial it, and wait to talk to a human, the younger generations use chat as their number-one channel to communicate with businesses.” For their part, enterprises are seeking customers, but are struggling to keep pace with the cost of managing text-based communication channels.
BOTique’s solution leverages conversational AI and seamlessly integrates it into existing databases, such as those concerned with customer relationship management. The modules offer “all the advantages of artificial intelligence without having our customers ever think about AI, whether it’s how to make the machines understand our users or how to train the AI.”
Yanovski said that the market opportunity is huge, as AI has just begun to make inroads, and the market this year is over $350 billion. While chat-based AI has a crowded field of competitors, “unlike our competition, our technology enables us to offer pre-built AI models. This makes us a scalable AI company. And our customers are loving the fact that they get a product instead of a project.” The company already has six big enterprise customers, Yanovski noted.
Speaking for PadInMotion ( Newark), cofounder Nir Altman relayed a personal story about his grandfather, and how difficult it was to get information at the hospital about his medical condition or treatment after he had been discharged. “The medical professionals wanted to provide information to us, but they didn’t have the tools to do it,” said Altman.
“And so, together with a cardiologist, we developed a solution.” The startup’s digital solution is now in operation at 14 hospitals throughout the country.
The company leverages tablet computers to provide information to patients and families, and also provides a platform so that “patients and their loved ones can continue to use that information, that hospital-approved information, long after discharge.” The solution would be up and running within three weeks, he said. “It’s a SaaS model, and the results have been proven.
PadInMotion addresses the 5,000-hospital market, which admits 250 million patients annually. “This $5 billion opportunity for our tablets was just one small part of the $100 billion opportunity associated with media in hospitals and healthcare.”
Altman said that the startup’s revenue is growing quickly. It’s selling directly to hospitals. “What happened over the last few months is that there is so much demand for products such as ours, that companies in our competitive space actually started contracting with us to license our technology to deliver to their hospital customers.”
Founder and CEO Brandon Bornancin introduced Seamless.AI (Newark and Columbus, Ohio), a sales and marketing intelligence startup that makes it easier for companies to acquire new clients. Seamless.AI is a search engine powered by AI that finds the perfect email addresses, phone numbers and insights for any company within an addressable market, he told the audience.
“With our state-of-the art search engine, you can input all your ideal customer search criteria, and in real time, Seamless will find all the ideal contacts and companies you should be working with.” Before using Seamless, a sales person could connect with 20 ideal customers a day, or perhaps 5,000 a year. After Seamless, he or she will be able to connect with more than 50,000 ideal customers and make ten times the revenue, said Bornancin.
He explained that the company’s secret sauce comes from its users. “The more users we acquire, the more data we get. The more data we get, the smarter the algorithms. The smarter the algorithms, the better the product.”