SpeechTrans Wins Pitch Olympics at VANJ Event


New Jersey was open for business at the Venture Association of New Jersey (VANJ) Entrepreneurs Expo and Elevator Pitch Olympics recently, where startups networked with angels, VCs, service providers and others in an exhibition space bustling with activity. They were also able to pitch to a panel of angels and VCs, and this year a N.J. company was awarded first place for its combination of pitch quality and fundability.

The winning pitch was made by Yan Auerbach, CTO and co-founder, SpeechTrans (Lyndhurst), whose compelling two-minute presentation included a slick demonstration of software the startup says lets users converse coherently with someone who speaks a foreign language. SpeechTrans wants to raise a Series A financing round for $1 million.

Second place went to David Sidman, founder of Linkstorm, a New York City company that overlays a cascading navigation menu on ads so customers can go to the exact web page they want. Two firms tied for third place, but only one was a tech company, Cirrus Technology Services (Washington, D.C.), whose CEO, David Giannini, pitched the hardware/software platform for managing power, security and other data-intensive commercial building needs.

David Sorin, co-managing partner of SorinRoyerCooper LLC (East Brunswick), moderated the panel of VCs and angels, who judged the event and offered suggestions for how to attract a VC’s attention and what not to do. It included Cristian A. Ossa, angel investor and entrepreneur; Mario Casabona, angel investor and CEO of Casabona Ventures LLC (Kinnelon); Carol Curley, managing director of Golden Seeds Angel Investment Network; David Drahms, principal of Osage Partners (Bala Cynwyd, Pa.); Arrun Kapoor, managing director of SJF Ventures (Durham, N.C.); and James Kollegger, CEO of Genesys Partners Inc. (New York City).

NJTechWeekly discovered a number of tech startups that, though not winners, shared great stories with us as we made our way through the exhibition hall. Revelstone LLC, a Parsippany company that has launched a web-based platform allowing local governments to track and measure their operational performance, struck us as particularly useful. The solution uses a measure, compare, learn and improve cycle, allowing towns to better their service levels and cost efficiencies in areas ranging from trash collection to firefighting. At the same time, the product provides performance transparency to citizens and other stakeholders.

Five N.J. townships have already subscribed to the platform, sold as software as a service for a relatively low monthly fee. Revelstone has been self-funded so far and is looking for $5 million “to further develop the organization, create first-mover advantage and ramp up customer acquisition.” The more customers, the more municipalities can compare their results.

One booth over, Go Pay LLC (Haworth) offered Rezzcard, an electronic payment product for the multifamily rental property industry. The rent payment automation solution lets tenants without checking accounts pay without securing money orders. The company’s management team has experience in the affordable housing industry and in building payments and transaction-based technology, and says the solution benefits both tenant and property manager.

Salem Environmental LLC (Flemington) pitched E-PropertyFacts, which provides web access to Environmental Protection Agency and state agency records for permits, spills, releases, leaky oil tanks, and so on. The service—likened to a Carfax for property—is aimed at financial institutions and other businesses involved in volume real estate transactions that need to screen properties for environmental risk.

In the green energy/tech category, Green Waste Technologies Inc. (Plainfield), which has designed a biomass convergent process to convert food waste and factory farm manure to biofuel oil and protein meal, stood out.

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