Startups Meet Their Volunteer Matches at NJIT People to Business Event

Photo: Networking at the P2B event Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Networking at the P2B event | Esther Surden

At the People to Business (P2B) event, held at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) on April 21, 2014, startup companies met with prescreened middle- and top-level professionals who wanted to volunteer to help the companies grow. In some cases, the firms found people they wanted to hire full time.

Several of the companies spoke with didn’t connect with their matches at the event. However, they were able to interview them later or connect with interns using talent-matching software created and provided by iQ4 (Franklin Lakes and New York) for the occasion.

P2B was organized by the Technology & Entrepreneurship Talent Network and NJIT. The State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development supported the event.

Photo: Adnan Quadeer at the P2B event Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Adnan Quadeer at the P2B event | Esther Surden

Adnan Qadeer of Allweb Technologies (Newark), an NJIT Enterprise Development Center (EDC) company, attended P2B to find volunteers who could help his company with sales and applications development.

“We have found some good people,” Qadeer told us before interviewing his matches. After the event, he said he had interviewed two people and was in further discussions with one of them.

Photo: Mack Bonthera representing Mello Lab Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Mack Bonthera representing Mello Lab | Esther Surden

Mack Bonthera of Mello Lab, a full-service Web design and marketing firm in Newark, said he wanted to connect with Web developers, Web designers and project managers. He told us he needs people who can focus on the management of projects while he focuses on sales and marketing.

 “We build websites that sell by fixing the marketing funnel of businesses,” he said. “There are a lot of companies that spend a lot of money on marketing but their funnel is broken. They lose people once they hit their site. We capture leads on your website, rewrite headlines, keep you in contact with  customers via email newsletters and make it possible for businesses to generate more sales on their website.”

Bonthera said he had spoken to a couple of interns after the event occurred because they hadn’t been able to make it to the actual meeting.

Photo: Volunteer meeting with MobileArq CEO Niru Mallavarupu. Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Volunteer meeting with MobileArq CEO Niru Mallavarupu. | Esther Surden

Niru Mallavarupu, CEO of the TechLaunch company MobileArq (Clifton), said she had come to the event looking for marketing specialists and Web programmers. In an email, she told us, “They had matched us with a few volunteers prior to the event (via email/Web); however, none of them showed up — they said that could have been due to parking issues. However, we did meet a volunteer impromptu — a retired marketing whiz, Marcio Moreira, who is now advising us on email marketing. So overall, it paid off attending the event.”

Chuck Daniels of NJIT EDC company D3 Unified (D3UC) said he had come to the talent-networking event with specific goals. D3UC is a white label, unified communications solution sold to IT-managed service providers. The company had five positions it wanted to fill, Daniels said at the event.

“We are looking for three managers and two directors. For each one of the positions there is a project. If you do the project well and we like you, it will probably lead to you being hired by us,” said Daniels. He provided an example of a project the company had in mind: a go-to-market strategy that a business development manager would create.

In a follow-up email, Daniels said, “Of the five positions we posted on the P2B website, we just started working with two people we met at the P2B meeting. We are currently working out the details of their working for us part time until the end of June and then joining D3UC full time on July 1.”

He added that the prospective employees his company had interviewed were well qualified. “Both candidates have over 20 years of experience in their fields (marketing and business development), and if things work out they will be our first two key hires since starting the company in January.”

Photo: Helena van der Merwe Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Helena van der Merwe | Esther Surden

Helena van der Merwe of A-Plus-Consulting (Newark) — another NJIT EDC company — said she was about to be licensed to manage staffing, executive search and temporary hires for computer science, IT, life sciences and government contracting. (After the event, her licensing came through.)

“I’m here to find folks with grant-writing experience that I can also use on the communications side [of her business]. … I’d also love to find HR people here,” she said.

We followed up with van der Merwe after the event. She told us, “I met a volunteer involved in business development that I will keep in touch with for future reference as well as an experienced IBM ex-employee that I will keep in mind for employment opportunities.” She added that she now had 10 jobs to fill and was looking for a source with a talent database.

Mello Lab’s Bonthera said the talent-matching software provided the P2B attendees was invaluable to his company. spoke with Frank Cicio, founder of iQ4, which provided that software.

“We’ve spent about five years working on building out the platform in the cloud. Our mission is to transform the next-generation workforce, solving the problem of unemployment and employability,” Cicio told us.  iQ4’s solution integrates digital skills portfolios with virtual real-world projects.

“It all comes down to skills. We are interested in not just what applicants studied at school but what makes them a person — such as interpersonal skills, applied skills, competencies and how all of these are captured in a portfolio,” he said.

Using iQ4 software, employers can actually search for individuals as opposed to merely posting jobs.

Cicio said applicants can “attach a résumé to this portfolio, but it’s really about getting the employer to think about what skills they want … . It also provides more information than you could ever put on paper, including videos.”

The software also lets applicants show how they can apply skills by getting involved in projects. “We have internship, externship [and] apprenticeship capability in the product,” Cicio said.

Schools do a great job of training, Cicio noted, but perhaps not of helping students apply their skills. The internship portion of iQ4’s business model helps applicants prove themselves to employers, he said.

iQ4 is currently on location in the United Nations Global Business Incubator (GBI).

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