In early June, the New Jersey Entrepreneurial Network held its Gathering of Angels event, which gives startups an opportunity to engage in some speed dating with angel investors who invest in New Jersey.
Some 20 startups from New Jersey and elsewhere presented posters at the meeting. NJTechWeekly.com interviewed some of them.
Kishore Ramachandran, cofounder of Zipreel (Princeton Junction), displayed a poster called “Enterprise-grade Media Processing Made Simple.” He said that Zipreel is a software company that solves media processing problems, and that it’s building reliable, fast and scalable software products to compress and classify media.
The company’s technology can work on commodity server hardware, while not compromising performance, he said. “Right now, we are working with a cable provider to deploy our technology, software and servers” so the content they have is compressed and delivered cost-effectively. Zipreel is also working with the Department of Defense to take videos shot by cameras on drones and convert their content into text. At the NJEN meeting, the company showed a video explaining how this worked. The video was able to detect cars as they showed up on the screen, characterize them and identify the size and trajectory of each car. “We are ready to take this capability to the commercial sector,” he said.
Lithero cofounder and Princeton graduate Nyron Burke displayed a poster called “Content Management Platform for Life Sciences Industry.” Burke told us that he started the Philadelphia-based company “to solve two main problems. One is around marketing costs. People don’t realize that the life sciences industry currently spends the most money on marketing of any industry. Also, they have a big problem in terms of compliance. They actually have to make sure marketing materials are accurate and in line with industry regulations.”
Lithero Connect addresses marketing costs issues by managing the agency-marketing relationship before, during and after the engagement. “The biggest question I have when I hire an agency to build my website is ‘how do I know I’m going to get a good price?’ We use benchmarking and analytics to make sure that those estimates are accurate.” Money spent at the agencies is the biggest cost component for a pharmaceutical company, he said. At the compliance end, Lithero has developed two additional platforms, “Catalyst” and “Clarity.”
Venk Gorty and Michael Masterton, of Melp (Princeton Junction), spoke about their company, which is a mobile enterprise linking platform. Their poster was called “The Benefits of Mobile Enterprise Communications.” Melp links all of a company’s communications in one mobile app that’s available on iPhone and Android. The company is self-funded. “Our target market right now is small and medium-sized businesses,” Gorty said.
The idea for the company came out of the prior experiences of Gorty, Masterton and others at Melp. “We’ve been working in various locations, collaborating with teams across the world: satellite locations, and field teams and other kinds of remote workers,” said Masterton. “We noticed that collaboration is so very frustrating and complicated.” Ultimately, you are sitting there trying to log into Cisco WebEx or GoToMeeting, and it takes too much time or you’re thrown off the system for some reason, he said.
So, companies are resorting to apps like WhatsApp Messenger. But that has drawbacks, too, said Gorty. If your employee leaves, he or she is still in the group. People are using their own phone numbers. Melp lets employees call, message, email, and collaborate all within one app, using just their company’s email domain. Users can create a group for a project, a request for proposal or a sales call. “We require no hardware changes for your existing team. Also, we aren’t asking for your personal phone number … so employees don’t have to give out their personal number to a variety of people they don’t know well.”
New York-based Dapptree was represented by founder and CEO Andrew Solomon. Presenting a poster called “Dapptree: Your Social Media Directory,” Solomon said that his company is fully user-generated. “We allow anyone from a tech-savvy teenager to a personal brand and even an established corporation to show where they can be found” on social media. Solomon said that there are 2.2 billion social media users, and on average each one belongs to five different networks. That can mean that they have different user names for each one. And there is no easy way to exchange this information.
“What we allow a user to do is create a profile that represents their digital identity. It allows them to put in their email address, social media handles, phone number, personal Web pages, etc.,” said Solomon. “They can then share it with anyone in the world through text message, email or as a link, so they can attach it to their email signature or twitter bio.” He added that the company is in the middle of building out its iOS application, and will be testing and launching a beta by the end of this summer.