NJ Tech Weekly 2015-01-09T10:07:58+00:00

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  • There’s a Long, Hard Road for Sex Tech Entrepreneurs, Speakers Say at Jersey City Tech Meetup
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    After four years of striking out with venture capitalists, entrepreneur Cindy Gallop finally raised the $2 million she needed in January to hire a full-time staff and rapidly grow her website.  Gallop needed to hire a UX designer. She wrote a straightforward job description with all the specifications she needed. And she posted the job on a popular platform for freelancers looking for work. “Twenty minutes later, they took it down,’’ Gallop recalled. “We asked them why and they told us, ‘No adult content.’" Gallop has heard “No” a lot.  She is a sex tech entrepreneur and founder and chief executive officer of Make Love Not Porn, based in Manhattan. It’s billed as the first social sex video-sharing platform, socializing and normalizing sex to make it easier for people to talk about it openly and honestly to promote good sexual values and behavior, she said. “For me and every other sex tech entrepreneur in this industry, the single most pressing issue when it comes to building our businesses is the fact that every single piece of business infrastructure any other tech startup can just take for granted we can’t because the small print always says no adult content,” she said. That’s not all, she and other female sex tech entrepreneurs say. Need bank backing? Or credit card payment processing? Or an e-mail partner? “No. No. And no,” they say. The hurdles they face have gone unnoticed. Jersey City Tech Meetup, which hosts monthly meetings, lending an ear to experts from the various technology, business and entrepreneurial communities, heard about the issue. The group hosted gatherings a year ago and again in June, inviting Gallop and other female leaders in the industry to share their their stories. Both meetings sold out. In June, Gallop was joined by Bryony Cole, Polly Rodriguez and others to talk about the industry and its future. Dan Sullivan, the outgoing organizer and founder of Jersey City Tech Meetup, said, “New Jersey has never ever held an event focused on this topic so I was really glad to be the host.” “Last year, there was no funding. They were doing 100 pitches or more to some well-known venture capitalists and they would all hear the same thing. No,” he said. “This year, some funding is coming their way. It’s been a year of moving forward,” he said. “Things are changing in a positive way and technology has a huge part to do with that. Because people tend to gravitate towards technology and understand technology.” Ben Yurcisin, the tech meetup’s lead organizer, noted the female sex tech entrepreneurs support each other and collaborate to gain momentum for all female sex tech leaders. In Gallop’s case, she eventually found a banker after a four-year search. The business was rejected at least six times before it found an e-mail partner. Gallop, 58, told her staff “after five and a half years of operations, the biggest thing we have to celebrate is we are still here. Because the tech and business world has been trying to kill us from day one.” She wants to change what she sees as a troubling social dynamic. “When total freedom of access to porn online meets our society’s equally total reluctance to talk openly and honestly about sex, porn becomes sex education by default,” she said. She wrote a book called Make Love Not Porn: Technology's Hardcore Impact on Human Behavior (TED Books) and established Make Love Not Porn. What followed was a growing global connection to female sex tech entrepreneurs who couldn’t get funding. “I realized I had a unique access to extraordinary sex tech deal flow. To get my own startup fully funded, I’m just going to have to get the entire category funded,” she said. “I decided to raise $200 million to start the world’s only sex tech fund.” The fund is called All The Sky Holdings. Through All The Sky Holdings, Gallop wants to fund innovative sex tech ventures founded by women. And fund the infrastructure of sex tech, creating a huge revenue generator. “When you truly have a world-changing startup, you have to change the world to fit it and not the other way around,” she said. “If reality tells me that I cannot grow my startup the way I want to, then I’m going to change my reality.&rdquo […]

  • Are Opportunity Zones an Opportunity for the Tech Industry in New Jersey? We Think So
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    On July 16, Sen. Cory Booker and Gov. Phil Murphy participated in a round table discussion moderated by Steve Adubato and sponsored by Choose New Jersey. The discussion focused on “Opportunity Zones,” areas enabled by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Governor Murphy quickly jumped on the chance for economic development in New Jersey and submitted 169 areas within 75 towns and municipalities for approval. They were approved by the Federal government. Booker, a Democrat, and Tim Scott, a Republican, were instrumental in writing and getting this bipartisan piece of the tax act passed. Most New Jersey observers believe that most of the tax reform package negatively impacts New Jersey. The Opportunity Zone piece is a silver lining. As an article in NJ Spotlight points out, this “designation means investors will be able to earn tax breaks for buying stakes in real estate or companies that are taking root in communities where the new opportunity zones have been established. Sections of some of New Jersey’s biggest cities, like Newark, Camden, and Paterson, have qualified for these opportunity zones. But swaths of other communities throughout the state like Bound Brook, Bridgeton, Plainfield, and Willingboro are also in the program." "To qualify as an opportunity zone, a census tract — typically a section of a town or a small municipality — generally must have a poverty rate of 20 percent or a median family income of up to 80 percent of the area median.” Murphy and his team, while selecting which tracts to put forward, looked for areas that had the potential to be transportation hubs. Thus, in New Jersey, they will be places where people can get to work and if residential, places where residents can easily leave to commute. So how will this impact the tech industry in New Jersey? If the tax breaks and other economic incentives do actually attract private investment to these zones, places with developing tech hubs like Newark and New Brunswick will continue to look better and better to both startups and their employees. Who doesn’t want to live and work in an area that is booming? Who doesn’t want to be part of a community with a growing tax base? The New Jersey Tech Council also believes that Opportunity Zones will positively impact New Jersey. James Barrood, president and CEO of the New Jersey Tech Council told us, “We welcome the prospect of these Opportunity Zones attracting new ventures and growth companies so that they can receive funding from investors taking advantage of the tax incentives. “We believe these zones will also attract mid-sized companies who are outgrowing their existing locations inside and outside the state. Lastly, we're hopeful that they will help incentivize larger companies to set up innovation labs and/or additional offices in these zones.”  Barrood added, “Furthermore, I'm confident that the administration will offer additional incentives, several of which were outlined in the transition, to make the state and its growing ecosystem even more attractive to entrepreneurs and innovators.” NJBIA President and CEO Michele N. Siekerka, said in a prepared statement, “While the success of the Opportunity Zone program may ultimately depend on private investment commitment in each community, we feel strongly it can be an effective economic development tool that will help small businesses grow and create private sector jobs in some of the state’s most economically challenged cities.  “NJBIA feels this program can be a great opportunity for public-private partnerships and an effective part of a comprehensive economic development strategy.&rdquo […]

  • VOICE Summit a Milestone for Newark
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

      Newark reaches another milestone to becoming an important technology hub as it prepares for the Amazon-backed VOICE Summit later this month.   The three-day national conference focused on artificial-intelligence driven voice technology will be held on July 24 - July 26 at NJIT, is projected to draw over 1,500 techies.    Modev, the organizer of the summit, announced Newark as the VOICE Summit host city in April over New York City, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.   “Everybody realizes this is a completely different audience for Newark. This is a Silicon-Valley tech audience that never thought of Newark as a tech destination,” said Karin Aaron, president and CEO of the Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau in an article from BrickCityLive. “The goal is to show them that it is. We have the conference and tech capabilities to host a conference like this.”   The conference can potentially transform Newark’s image and cement the city as a technology greenhouse. Previously, many people said it was like pulling teeth to attract developers and business into the city and now Newark boasts over $2 billion of investment in construction.   Revival cuts like a double-edge sword as some residents worry that, “it’s not for us,” fear gentrification with displacement and ponder -- innovation at whose expense?   “I think the mayor has a good grasp of where the heart of the city is and what is necessary to move forward that in a way that isn't exclusive, that doesn't preclude people that have been living here for a decade or five decades,” said Newark’s former Chief Information Officer, Seth Wainer in a conversation with Reginald Calixte on a CalixTech News podcast in February.   Efforts have been made to ensure that Newark residents are benefiting from the technology boom. Newark Fiber is a public-private partnership that offers 10 gigabit-per-second high speed internet to the city, one of the fastest urban data networks. In May, residents of Georgia King Village housing community received free WiFi courtesy of Newark Fiber.   "For a lot of folks, access to the internet means access to employment," said Mekaelia Davis, director of corporate giving for Prudential to NJ.com. "It's not only going to bridge the digital divide, we're saving people $80-$100 a month. That's more money for groceries, more money for daycare."   The city also announced LinkNWK, a multi-partner collaboration for Newark to install 45 high-tech “sidewalk kiosks” in each of the city’s five wards. The kiosks will provide free wifi to anyone within range and ports to charge mobile devices at no cost to taxpayers. The only other cities to use this technology are New York City, London, and Philadelphia.   "LinkNWK is only possible in Newark because of our incredible dark fiber and technology assets," Mayor Ras Baraka said. "What you're seeing is another example of how residents benefit from the city's tech infrastructure and accelerating growth as a technology hub."   In addition to attracting new people and new business, Wainer thinks about how the city’s growing tech sphere can be better at creating opportunities to cultivate homegrown talent. He wants to encourage entrepreneurs to stay in the city and for startups to get involved, like Jhamar Youngblood, CEO of Blastchat and Newark native who won $50,000 from the city for safety feature that lets women send notifications if they’re in danger.   “When I wake up in the morning, I [think about] what I can do in Newark today that is going to improve and innovate on where we were yesterday. What is technology’s role in growth?” Wainer said.   “We want to be very democratic about it all and not just focus on the downtown. We want to be delivering big wins to create a more just world.This is not a game of making people who take the train into Newark and then leave feel better, it's truly about how we can improve the city for the city." […]

  • Healthcare Transportation ‘Disrupters’ Make Big Drive in New Jersey
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    New high-tech services pledge to construct easier ways for patients to get to and from medical appointments A new medical transportation service is helping a growing number of patients in New Jersey — and elsewhere in the country — to get to and from doctors’ appointments, while also giving healthcare providers new tools to ensure vulnerable patients can safely access the care they need. A Philadelphia-based startup, Roundtrip, is now working with more than a dozen Garden State hospitals and healthcare systems — from Holy Name Medical Center in Bergen County to Cooper University Health Care facilities in Camden — to arrange car, van or nonemergency ambulance service for patients with limited transportation options. Most recently, the company partnered with the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, a collaborative effort to improve care for some of the most at-risk residents in the region. Roundtrip, which said it transports hundreds of New Jersey residents every week, also enables individuals anywhere in the state to book medical transportation for themselves, to any provider — by phone, through its website, or via free mobile apps. People can also use the system to arrange a ride for friends or family, regardless of where the patients live or the doctor’s location. For more, visit NJ Spotlight, here. […]

  • “Newark is Our Competitive Differentiator” Borok Says at NVP Labs Demo Day
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

      Before the startups began their pitches at Demo Day June 27, Newark Venture Partners Managing Partners Tom Wisniewski and Dan Borok spoke to attendees about how being in Newark has helped NVP attract great startups and corporate mentors who really care about the young companies' success. The event was hosted at the Prudential Center, home of the New Jersey Devils. Borok noted that NVP Labs has a unique investment strategy predicated on three pillars. Pillar 1: “We are focused on business-to-business software and service companies. We feel that this is where our expertise supports us the best, and we are excited about our potential for value creation in this market. We have some sub-themes such as healthtech, fintech, the future of voice for the enterprise, the future of work. We are doing that in a unique model, where we start as investors in the pre-seed stage and support our companies as the institutional lead through seed and all the way through Series A.” Pillar 2: “The second pillar is our corporate access. A lot of venture firms these days have relationships with corporates through their logos through some access, but our corporate partners are investors in our fund, which means that they have a vested interest in seeing our startups succeed. What we’ve done is built a 500 person corporate mentor network, which Tom and I and our team rely on for diligence before we make an investment, and our portfolio companies get to tap into this network post investment to help their companies scale up.” NVP’s corporate backers and partners include Audible, Prudential Financial, Panasonic, TDBank, Dun & Bradstreet, RJWBarnabas Health and Horizon Blue-Cross Blue Shield. Pillar 3: The third pillar is NVP’s idea of community, he said. “We are building a community that is both physical and digital.” We want our portfolio companies to interact, share lessons learned, wins and challenges with each other, and they can do it digitally through Slack or social media or even email. They can do it physically in our 25,000 square foot space here in Newark. “We don’t think we can do this anywhere else." Borok We don’t think we can do this anywhere else. We couldn’t do it in New York, or San Francisco or Boston or Palo Alto, because we couldn’t find corporates who care, we couldn’t find companies that believe in our double line mission of producing returns and stimulating the local economy, and we certainly couldn’t find the kind of low-cost office space that you can get right here in Newark, just a train ride away from New York City," Borok said. "We are really excited and we think that Newark is our competitive differentiator.” Wisniewski went on to say, that NVP Labs wants to accelerate growth in Newark, but Newark is doing it all by itself. Addressing the audience, he noted the tremendous boom in construction in the city. He noted that people walking from the train or the parking lot to the Prudential Center could see for themselves the redevelopment going on. He mentioned a few projects, including the Ironside building near the Prudential that will have office space as well as retail space on the first floor, and One Theater Square which will have a couple of hundred luxury apartments, “that follows on the heels of the successful lease-up of the Hahne & Co. building.”  He also noted that Shaquille O’Neil and some financial partners have built a 30 story building near the NJ Performing Arts Center and that L&M Development is working on a great art deco building that used to be home to NJ Bell and, later, Verizon. According to the L&M website, “Built in the 1920’s and a great representative design of architect Ralph Walker, this building, with its grand lobby and distinctive façade, is to be adaptively reused to support 265 mixed-income apartments, offices and ground floor retail spaces.” He also noted that companies, both large and small are moving into Newark again, including Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S. which is bringing about 500 jobs to Newark, Broadridge Financial which brought 1000 people to Newark, and even small companies like Credibility Capital, a fintech company innovating in the loan space which is bringing 20 people to Newark and pledges to grow to 20 more. “This is what we want to see.” Earlier in the day, Wisniewski mentioned that NVP Labs was grateful for the support of Senator Cory Booker. As he concluded his remarks about Newark being NVP Lab’s competitive advantage, Wisniewski mentioned that Governor Phil Murphy’s platform, which is all about technology development and technology-driven companies as the driver for the New Jersey economy, “provides a space in which we all will be able to thrive.” &nbs […]