Opinion: Strong Spring and Summer in New Jersey Tech Sets the Stage for Fall

Photo: Aaron Price interviews Gary Vaynerchuk at Propeller. Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Aaron Price interviews Gary Vaynerchuk at Propeller. | Esther Surden

New Jersey has had one of the strongest spring and summer seasons in the five years since NJTechWeekly.com came on the scene. And as we head into autumn, I thought it was time to review the past and put it into perspective.

  • We’ll start in May, when a new accelerator called entreprenYOURS was introduced to New Jersey startups. The brainchild of longtime New Jersey tech entrepreneurship supporters Jared and David Sorin, entreprenYOURS features the cross-ownership of companies as a way of giving startups an incentive to actively collaborate with, and benefit from, each other. Look for announcements about which companies will be participating in EntreprenYOURS this fall.
  • The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) continued to support the startup tech community with its NJ Founders & Funders event in early May, in North Brunswick. The EDA has many programs for tech startups and their founders, but this is one of the most visible. Several of these events have led to eventual term sheets for startups, and we’ll be following their progress.
  • Propeller, May 20 in Hoboken, provided a celebration of technology and entrepreneurship that New Jersey hadn’t seen before. It was a wonder-filled day, jam-packed with information about entrepreneurship delivered by well-known gurus of the tech industry. Aaron Price is already working on next year’s event, so we’ll see more details emerge as the year goes on.
  •  Waterfront Ventures, in Camden, held its first startup event in late May, with more than 250 people attending. This was a significant event because “Camden” and “entrepreneurship” are not often said in the same breath. We understand that Waterfront Ventures may put on a fall event. If that happens, we’ll let you know.
  • Also in May, Newark Venture Partner Labs made its debut, offering $80,000 to startups accepted into the accelerator, which is located at a state-of-the-art facility in Newark. We look forward to announcements of the first accelerator class plus information about investments made by the NVP fund in more established  startups moving to Newark.
  • In June, the City of Newark and Gadget Software discussed the expansion of programs aimed at teaching coding to Newark citizens. We look forward to hearing updates on these programs, as the city continues to develop them.
  • In late June, the business of drones in New Jersey took a step forward when the industry held an FAA-sanctioned demonstration of how drones could be used for humanitarian missions. We’re excited about the impact the drone industry could have on the South Jersey economy, and we hope to hear more about the industry’s progress in the fall.
  • At the end of June, Juniper Networks OpenLab, in Bridgewater, said that it was expanding globally. This was great news for New Jersey, as the model for OpenLab and the innovation programs it has delivered were all developed here, and will be used in other countries.
  • Edison Partners,in Princeton, opened its doors to early-stage startups for mentoring starting in early July. Edison Partners has a wealth of information at its fingertips, and startups in the area can benefit from this new program. We often see angels and VCs giving back to the N.J. tech community, but this is a truly significant opportunity.
  • In July, Verizon and AT&T both said that they were testing 5G in New Jersey. Everyone is excited about the possibilities offered by 5G, and it’s good that New Jersey has become one of the test beds for this technology. While we want to build on our telecom legacy, we must move forward to create new technologies and new jobs.
  • In late July, iCIMS signed a lease at Bell Works, in Holmdel, cementing that historic building’s reputation as a tech magnet.  Bell Works, of course, is the old Bell Labs building, which is being redesigned for a 21st-century workforce. We look forward to hearing about other tech companies making Bell Works their home. and we’ll keep up with the renovations there.
  • Rutgers Coding Bootcamp, which has several locations, graduated its second class at the end of July, helping to supply corporations and startups with the tech talent they need. For years, New Jersey had no coding bootcamps. Some meetups would offer lessons for a summer, but Rutgers has put together a program that meets employers’ requirements. This is a very intensive course, and it’s just what New Jersey needed.
  • At the beginning of August, word came that WalMart had acquired Hoboken-based Jet.com, New Jersey’s high flying e-commerce startup. This created a lot of buzz, as Jet.com had officially launched just over a year earlier, and some in New Jersey had pinned their hopes on the startup’s becoming the anchor in Hoboken that would spawn additional startups. We look forward to seeing what Jet.com will be able to do in the future.
  • Fownders, the tech accelerator dedicated to mentoring young entrepreneurs in the Newark community, held its first event in August. This is important because Fownders is a serious way for young startup founders to learn and grow. Look for announcements this fall of the accelerator’s first class.

Did we miss anything? Please comment if you know of another significant tech and/or entrepreneurship event that we may have overlooked, and let us know why you believe it was important.

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