At the June New Jersey Entrepreneurial Network Gathering of Angels event, some 20 startups presented posters, and many of these were from New Jersey. NJTechWeekly.com interviewed some of them, as well as one entrepreneur who didn’t exhibit a poster. This is the second part of a two-part series. Part One can be found here.
Nicholas Manganaro told us that his startup, Empactful (New York), “exists to make it easy for people to save and invest in causes they care about. It’s socially responsible investing.” The startup’s poster was “Empactful Socially Responsible Wealth Management Platform.” Empactful is a robo-advisory platform that seamlessly integrates social responsibility into everyday investing, he said. It invests in companies that have good gender policies, better environmental treatment and good sustainability practices. Folks who invest with Empactful can allocate a portion of their profits from interest and dividends to charities of their choice. Manganaro said that the company was looking for its first round of external funding.
New Way Educational Technology
One of the entrepreneurs we spoke to who didn’t display a poster was Arthur Ardolino, the founder of New Way Educational Technology (Princeton). A former teacher himself, Ardolino said that teachers starting the school year typically know very little about the children who will be in their classes. “With all the billions of dollars invested in technology, the average teacher knows very little about the children in their class. It’s really not fair to them to expect them to personalize and differentiate instruction without good information.”
Ardolino said that teachers need to know where the kids stand in terms of their skills, particularly the skills they are weak in. “What we did is we created a way to capture information from the schools for primarily grades three through eight. If you want to turn things around, you have to get to the middle group.”
The data is hosted in a secured center accessible only to the school district, though the school district may grant access to others. Teachers and parents are able to view the information, as can pupils in grades six through eight because they are old enough to use devices. “With the World Wide Web, there are all sorts of resources out there,” said Ardolino. Teachers and parents can use the information to help their kids; for instance, teachers can use it to gauge how well their students have learned over the school year. The app will also direct teachers and parents to the particular resources, tutorials and lessons that can help with particular deficits.
Shilpi Mahajan, founder of Fablefy (Woodbridge), a very early startup, presented a poster called “Building creative spaces for parents and children using storytelling.” The startup is developing a product to enhance lateral thinking. It wants to focus on helping every child think differently about solutions to problems and approach things from different angles. Lateral thinking is being taught to adults in the corporate world, Mahajan told us.
“We are teaching adults to think differently so they can do their jobs better, but we are not training our children’s minds right from the very beginning.” The startup is going to have an app and flashcards that provide activities for kids to help them think out of the box. Fablefly also plans to offer books that go with the app and the flashcards.