Startups’ Pitches, Email Marketing Featured at NJ Tech Meetup

deanlevittof_madmimi recently attended a New Jersey Tech Meetup at the Howe Center at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken. About 130 tech founders, angels, developers and others gathered to network and listen to three startups pitch their new ventures.

Mad Mimi LLC (Brooklyn, N.Y.) chief of culture Dean Levitt, the featured speaker, talked about the basics of email marketing. A raffle–whose winner would receive an hour of consulting time with David Sorin, a New Brunswick lawyer with SorinRoyerCooper LLC who is active in N.J. startup ventures–was held to benefit the Hoboken Boys & Girls Club.  Other raffle prizes were provided by DFJ Gotham Ventures is an early stage venture capital firm focused on technology investments, Dozzino an artisanal pizza shop, and Clinton Social, a restaurant and bar nearby.

Winning the audience choice award for startups was, a NYC-based website that rents curated art to novice collectors so they can try it before they buy it. Artsicle has completed its seed round of funding, and the founders have just begun to pay themselves. The company displays photos of artwork by respected but emerging artists on the site, then ships the art to users, who pay a $50 monthly fee. Half the fee is applied to the purchase of the art if the collector decides to keep it. Alexis Tryon, co-founder and CEO of Artsicle, said the company is developing a recommendation engine that would allow users to choose among different types of art to find a selection they might like.

Also presenting was Talisman Guidance Solutions(Hoboken), which revamps the way colleges and universities approach their guidance of students. The company’s Horizons software helps guidance counselors determine student career directions and learning styles, offering them the optimum courses to enable on-time graduation. Speaking about his company, Talisman president and CEO Matthew Wade said the software helps remedy the current degree/career planning disconnect, whereby students invest thousands of dollars in their education, only to graduate with a major that doesn’t help their career.

The last presenter, Krassimir Fotev, founder of Peer Belt Inc. (Harrison, N.J.), spoke about his company’s search software, which leverages “passive user activity” in the browser to improve search results and information discovery. Apparently the tool can discover relevant browsing history and keep it readily available to inform new searches. In his presentation, Fotev said that with Peer Belt, users can find previously viewed material without bookmarking it. The product is in closed beta on Windows since March, and Peer Belt will be rolling out Mac support by first week of Oct.

According to MadMimi’s Dean Levitt, the takeaway for the evening was that email marketers should keep everything simple and entertaining; they shouldn’t, for example, try to cram a web page into an email. Text should run straight down in a column because “we don’t naturally gravitate toward reading multiple-column emails.” While he advised users that they can introduce emails with some quick links, he told them to adhere to a single-column format, which also works well with mobile devices. Levitt’s talk was punctuated with tips that startups could use in their email marketing campaigns, and those in attendance left with a special offer for services from the company.

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