Top 14 Quotes from 2014 Tech Meetings in New Jersey

Photo: Steve Jacobs of Gilt Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Steve Jacobs of Gilt | Esther Surden

1. On knowing your customer: “What I want to ask of all of you, when you are building your startups, is [to] really, really try to empathize with the customer.”  — Gilt’s Steve Jacobs, at the NJ Tech Meetup on July 22.

2. On entrepreneurs taking advice: “People ask all the time about lessons learned and the advice I would give.  I’m reminded of the famous screenwriter William Goldman, who said, ‘Nobody knows anything.’ People are going to tell you the formulas or the magic bullets. That’s not to say there isn’t great advice — there is, but it should tell you something that much of that great advice conflicts [with other great advice].”  — Vinit Bharara, one of the cofounders of, at the NJ Tech Meetup on January 9.

3. On growing a company: “People create companies, not technology … When we wanted to get bigger, we had to bring in people that knew what bigger looks like, that knew what growth looked like. If I want to grow from $10 million to $20 million, I can’t hire people who ran a $5 million business, because they have no idea of what happens at $20 million.”  — Noah Wrubel, founder of Bare Necessities, at the Morris Tech Meetup on April 10.

Photo: Greg Slamowitz at the Morris Tech meetup. Photo Credit: Pavita Howe
Greg Slamowitz at the Morris Tech meetup. | Pavita Howe

4. On growing a company: “You are not getting to 100, 200, 500 employees if you are relying on micromanaging to align your team. It’s a non-scalable, exhausting, organizational methodology” that makes people feel bad about themselves.  — Greg Slamowitz, who sold Ambrose Employer Group to TriNet in 2013, at the Morris Tech Meetup on October 7.

5. On picking a team for a startup: “Diversity is the essence in my mind. If you find somebody just like yourself you haven’t really added a lot of value. And then find somebody that you’re very comfortable working with, because you’re going to be spending more time with them than you’re going to spend with your family, or your loved one, or your spouse, or your significant other.” — Wim Sweldens, founder of Kiswe Mobile, in a presentation at Princeton University on November 6.

6. On acquiring followers: “Get in front of the gatekeepers. There’s somebody that has access to your community. We get the gatekeepers to tell our desired audience about us.  It’s not hard building a community. You need to find your niche. Build something that other people are passionate about. If you can find ten people, you can find a hundred. If you can find 500, you can find 10,000.”  — Dwight Peters, of BackersHub, at a joint BrickCity Tech/Scarlet Startup Meetup workshop on November 3.

Photo: Dwight Peters of Backershub Photo Credit: Anthony Frasier
Dwight Peters of Backershub | Anthony Frasier

7. On mentorship: “With mentorship, women have very different needs than men. A woman in the field needs to feel that she is a part of something, no matter what, even if it is an exercise class. If you feel like an outsider, you won’t do it again.” — Katherine Herbert, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science at Montclair State University, at a Women’s Entrepreneurship Week event at MSU on October 16.

8. On using Google Glass in Schools: “Only in the last two years, through the Bring Your Own Device movement, have [smartphones] been allowed. I don’t want the same thing to happen to Google Glass. I think that it is important to show educational institutions what it can be used for.”  — John Shammas, high school student and director of user experience at Meddle, at the NJ Connect Meetup on January 28.

Photo: Google Glass at NJConnect meetup. Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Google Glass at NJConnect meetup. | Esther Surden

9. On makerspaces: “Some people think that 40 percent of universities will be gone in several years and the ones that are left are going to be irrevocably changed.” Rutgers sees makerspaces as places in which higher education and workforce training can be provided remotely with a hands-on, local component.  — Stephen “Skip” Carter, director of the Rutgers Center for Innovation Education and codirector of the New Jersey Makerspace Association, at the Jersey Shore Tech Meetup on March 18.

10. On having an idea others will finance: “In order to build a company that will be financeable by third parties, you have to be solving a problem that the market thinks is really critical, and you have to solve that problem on a cost-efficient basis.”  — David Sorin, an attorney who heads the Venture Capital and Early Stage and Emerging Companies practice at McCarter & English, at the Asbury Agile annual conference, on October 3.

Photo: Charlie O'Donnell of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Charlie O'Donnell of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures | Esther Surden

11. On having an idea others will finance: “I am thrilled when someone comes in and surprises me with a sector that I’ve never thought about. … They know everything they need to know about that industry, all the key players, suppliers, customers. … That’s exciting to me.”  — VC Charlie O’Donnell of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures at the NJ Tech Meetup on August 28.

12. On startups partnering with big companies: “Big companies … have so many employees, they can drown you in [so many] questions and phone calls and due diligence that a startup — even a 25-person startup — can’t handle doing a deal with them.”  — Heath Ahrens, founder and CEO of iSpeech, at the Innovation Technology Meetup on July 25.

13: On getting creative ideas: “I think we get our best ideas when we disconnect, when we work in nature, when we do things fulfilling and different like biking, swimming, running or whatever it is that’s good for you. New ideas don’t happen when you’re at the office, they happen when you’re looking at a wood fire in the countryside on a Saturday night. That’s when creativity comes.”  — entrepreneur Guillaume Gauthereau at the NJ Tech Meetup on October 23.

14. On pivoting: “The only thing I am truly certain of … is that the [business plan] is not going to happen.”  — Keith Cooper, former CEO of Connotate, at the New Jersey Technology Council annual meeting, on July 17.

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