VANJ Elevator Pitch Olympics

photo attended the Venture Association New Jersey (VANJ) Entrepreneurs Expo and Elevator Pitch Olympics last week and found that tech startups are alive and well in NJ. We spoke to a number of companies that attended the event in hope of raising their visibility to the venture capital community.

All of them were interested in perfecting their pitches in front of several VCs and angels who graded their presentations according to quality of pitch and fundability of project. The idea, according to moderator Leonard Nuara, a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig LLP, was for startups to learn what VCs and angels want from their companies and how to make a compelling case for funding in a short period of time.

Many of the presentations and ideas received tepid support from the panelists, which was to be expected, since they were there to provide constructive criticism. NetbookNavigator, a Hoboken-based company that is developing Microsoft Windows based tablet computers, was told that the market was too crowded, and it might have a hard time gaining a toehold.

Phoenix Bankware, a South Jersey-based company, that provides software as a service offerings for small banks to reduce loan portfolio risks, received praise from one panelist, who said its presentation covering exit strategy and proceeds was information that VCs want to know. Another panelist thought the presentation was hard to hear.

Another NJ company, Zeropa, which created a prototype for an accessory for smartphones that supposedly reduces the adverse effects of cellphone radiation, was dismissed by some panelists who said they didn’t believe that the product worked.

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