For the last several years, TechLaunch founder and managing director Mario Casabona and his team have run an event called “BullPen,” where mentored startup founders could pitch their companies to an audience and a panel of investors. Audience members asked questions and the investors gave the founders advice on their pitches.
For startups seeking to perfect their pitches, students wanting to know about entrepreneurship and investors interested in deal flow, BullPen events offered learning opportunities, exposure to startups and great networking over pizza.
Now, during the COVID-19 health emergency, TechLaunch is moving its platform online, with its next event scheduled for July 28, without the pizza. Register here.
February 12 BullPen Recap
The last TechLaunch BullPen took place at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison on February 12, a month before the pandemic hit New Jersey and everything was shut down.
Presenting were three startups and one student startup from Fairleigh Dickinson.
The investor panel included Jonathan Hakakian, cofounder and managing director of SoundBoard Venture Fund (Montclair); Liz Hogan, an independent consultant, angel investor and member of the advisory board of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, at Montclair State University; Harvey Homan, an angel investor and adviser to pharmaceutical, biotech, medical-device companies and more; and Charles Paul, vice president of technology at Henkel Adhesive Technologies (Bridgewater), where he finds and supports startup companies.
Winning the investor panel vote and $15,000 in services offered by TechLaunch sponsors was Audio Directions (Hopewell), presented by Nigel Gardner, cofounder and CEO. The company also snared a spot pitching to the Jumpstart NJ Angel Network, a New Brunswick-based early-stage investor group, and to Tech Council Ventures, established by TechUnited:NJ (formerly the NJ Tech Council).
Audio Directions offers wireless technology that transmits a signal directly to a hearing aid or cochlear implant. The business-to-business company provides a range of solutions to make sure hearing-impaired people can hear confidential conversations, such as those that take place at a pharmacy. This is especially important because it allows hearing-impaired people to hear clearly in spaces where hearing aids may magnify background noise.
The audience voted for BuckleBath, a Madison-based company solving the problem of how to effectively clean children’s grimy car seats. A tech-enabled service company, BuckleBath was started by a former Google employee who is also a mother of two. Founder and CEO Lauren Siclare envisioned a world where friendly professionals would come to a person’s driveway, a commuter parking lot, nursery school or day-care center and sanitize those grimy car seats.
Also presenting were Sam Beiler and Jared Neff, cofounders of Boostpoint (Lancaster, Pa.), a company that provides home-service businesses (such as roofing contractors, real estate agents and local store owners) an efficient way to manage their social media advertising on Facebook and Instagram to grow their businesses.
Each BullPen event features a student entry, and the entry from Fairleigh Dickinson was Visionrace, a company set up to manage door-to-door outreach, such as that needed by political candidates during an election year. “Our platform lets campaign managers pay their canvassers directly, without wasting hours of time with handwritten checks and excel spreadsheets,” said founder and CEO Israel Hervias.
TechLaunch Online Office Hours
Recently, TechLaunch instituted a series of free online mentoring sessions with its team of experienced entrepreneurs and investors. The Virtual Office Hours program is targeted at tech startup entrepreneurs who want to get guidance and coaching on launching or growing their startups. “Our purpose is to help you get to the next growth objective,” Casabona said.
According to TechLaunch, if you’re a startup founder and want to qualify for the mentoring sessions, you should:
- Have an idea that you feel has commercialization potential
- Be on the cusp of market traction
- Want to improve your business model
- Want feedback on the viability of your potential startup
- Need coaching to achieve your next growth phase
- Want to build a relationship with experienced entrepreneurs and/or investors
Founders will also have to join the TechLaunch mailing list, and will be sent weekly updates on mentors who are available for office hours.