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

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  • Students and Community Members Shine at Ninth Newark Innovation Challenge
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

        At the end of November, NJIT, Capital One and the Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation sponsored the Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge, held at NJIT. This competition, which has been running for nine years, features student innovators and members of the community who have potentially viable businesses; the two groups compete in separatetracks. The candidates’ applications were examined based on the business potential of their projects; then 10 students and 10 residents of the greater Newark area were selected to pitch to the judges and to an audience of interested onlookers. The winners - students and community members alike - received a $3,000 stipend from Capital One to allow them to attend the NJIT Innovation Accelerator next summer, where they can get their businesses off the ground or figure out if they have a real shot at making their idea into a thriving enterprise. The three winners of the student competition were Mark Quiles, for his League of Lifeguards; Bharath Babu Nunna, who pitched a micro biochip for cancer detection; and Michael Steadman, for his Ironbound Boxing & Education, a social venture. Four winners were selected from the community track: Kayla Jackson, for PeduL; Frank Ozoria, for TOMO!; Chrystoff Camacho, for ParaTrees; and Julius Richards, for TAGEE. This year, John P. Keegan, chairman and president of the Charles Edison Fund, also presented the “Tommy” awards to the first place winners. The awards are given for innovation in the tradition of Thomas A. Edison, who started his first business creating ticker tape machines in Newark, before he did his groundbreaking work, according to Michael A. Ehrlich, codirector of the New Jersey Innovation Acceleration Center, who emceed the event. Aisha Glover, president and CEO of the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation (Newark CEDC), said that there is a clear momentum towards Newark’s comeback as a vibrant city, noting that she had just participated in talks with Mars about returning to the city. Glover’s background includes helping entrepreneurs in Brooklyn, New York; and she said, “I am here to make sure that what happened in Brooklyn doesn’t happen in Newark,” referring to the gentrification of Brooklyn that has forced so many residents out of the borough. “One way we do that is to invest in entrepreneurs and small businesses, as well as residents.” Glover told the attendees that the City of Newark is rich with technical and business resources, and she urged entrepreneurs at the event to use these resources, which are often free. She also noted that Newark’s location, near transportation and New York, makes it a great place to live, and added that 11,000 new housing units are in the pipeline. “Being able to draw [talent] from the metropolitan area is extremely valuable,” she noted. And she said that the Newark CEDC runs an incubator specifically for up-and-coming retailers. Speaking for Capital One, Theresa Bedeau said that she was happy to see the evolution of the Innovation Challenge over the last nine years. “Giving back to our communities is at the heart of what we do at Capital One,” she told the group. “Last year alone, our associates spent more than 400,000 hours of community service and the company gave more than $48 million in philanthropic investments to support nonprofit organizations and the work they do in the communities we serve.” Keynote speaker Sybil Bost, Newark community liaison for Whole Foods Market, gave attendees insights on how they can get their food-related products into the Whole Foods system. “Whole Food Markets has a different perspective when it comes to innovation,” she said. “We want entrepreneurs to, one, be local, we want them to be innovative … we want you guys to be trendy, then we want you to be conscious.”   People who have products they want to get into Whole Foods Markets must do lots of research to make sure they have the right combination of ingredients and social conscience that matches the Whole Foods ethos, she said. The question is not only “will that product work in one of our Northeast stores, or would it work better on the West Coast?” It’s what the ingredients are. Are they healthy? Are they sustainably sourced? Whole Foods also wants people who are conscious leaders, who employ the underserved, for example, and who are thoughtful about the environment and think about how the product or business affects the world, she said. NJTechWeekly.com attended several of the pitches, and we will have an additional story on them later this week. &nbs […]

  • As New Jersey Welcomes a New Governor, CTO David Weinstein Resigns
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    This story by Colin Wood originally appeared in statescoop here. The young technology leader says it's time for him to step aside and let the new administration take control of the state's important work in IT. At noon on Tuesday, New Jersey will swear in Phil Murphy as its new governor. It means Gov. Chris Christie will depart and take his technology Cabinet with him. New Jersey Chief Technology Officer David Weinstein informed the state through an internal email last week he would resign effective Tuesday. With Murphy being a Democrat and Christie a Republican, a change in at the CTO position was expected. In an interview with StateScoop on Monday, Weinstein said his chief operating officer, Odysseus Marcopolus, will serve as an interim replacement. Weinstein emphasized the importance of Murphy's administration appointing its own technology leadership. Murphy has not yet named who his CTO will be. "It makes sense for the new governor to appoint someone who is in there for the long term because there will be a number of challenges that they'll have to confront right off the bat," Weinstein said. The IT challenges Murphy's administration face take familiar forms: legacy applications running on old platforms, personnel attrition, and continuation of an IT "realignment," as Weinstein calls it, as initiated by Christie through an executive order in June. The state's IT realignment has gone well, Weinstein said, and in his email calls it one his proudest accomplishments since starting with the state as a cybersecurity adviser in 2014. Weinstein would be promoted to state chief information security officer in January, 2016 and then become the youngest state CTO or chief information officer in any state in June 2016, assuming the role at the age of 28. "We've fully executed the vision of decentralizing the function of agency-specific application development and centralizing the function of infrastructure provisioning and management," Weinstein said of the realignment effort. The hardest part, he said, was taking a comprehensive inventory of the state's IT landscape and then empowering the agency CIOs with the tools they needed to take ownership of their agency-specific projects. Weinstein said about 200 people were moved as a result of the realignment and "dozens and dozens" of applications and legacy systems were affected. Though much of the groundwork has been set, Weinstein said, the incoming administration will need to see it through. "They're in an excellent position to do that," Weinstein said. "We have essentially prepositioned the executive branch to embark on a multi-year path towards decommissioning data centers, consolidating the infrastructure and migrating a lot of those workloads to the cloud." In addition to making headway on its realignment — one of state government's trickiest projects — Weinstein said he was also proud of the progress his office made in reforming government culture and bucking longstanding practices. Under his leadership, the chief information security officer was given a higher level of autonomy, the IT agency's leadership and management structure was flattened to promote collaboration, and Weinstein says he "reversed the downward trend" of the agency. "It's been, as I've said before, the honor of a lifetime to serve in this capacity for my native state," Weinstein said. "I think the organization and the IT community as a whole in New Jersey turned a major corner over the last six to 12 months in particular." Private industry and new Jersey state government now both recognize technology as being more than a backroom operation, he said, and that is due largely to the elevation of the CTO role as a Cabinet-level position and the priority that Christie placed on technology within his administration. Technology transcends politics, Weinstein added, and expressed confidence that Murphy will carry the torch on many of the things they started. "I'm proud of the fact that the position has been elevated in stature," Weinstein said, "and at the same time, I was incredibly humbled to be appointed to that role and to serve in that capacity for as long as I did." […]

  • Company Roundup: Konica Minolta, iCIMS, Comodo and NB Ventures
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

        Konica Minolta: Konica Minolta said it plans to expand its headquarters in Ramsey. The expansion of the company’s corporate campus will be helped in part by Grow NJ tax credits of up to $29 million, approved by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA). Konica Minolta’s expansion into smart office technology products, industrial printing, managed services (including IT) and managed voice, as well as recent corporate acquisitions, are driving workforce and workplace expansion, the company said.  The Ramsey corporate headquarters currently employs 474 people in two buildings utilizing approximately 191,000 square feet of space. Plans under consideration for the new corporate campus include a 29,400-square-foot addition, the lease of more space, and expanded parking facilities. The company plans to create an additional 400 jobs to support corporate business growth in New Jersey. The project would amount to a $20 million investment by Konica Minolta, and would generate benefits for the state of $65 million over 20 years, the company said in a release. iCIMS: iCIMS (Holmdel), the provider of cloud-based talent-acquisition solutions that recently moved into Bell Works, announced the acquisition of TextRecruit (San Jose), a candidate-engagement platform that uses text messages, live chat and artificial intelligence to help organizations hire better people, faster. TextRecruit has built a rapidly growing business by recognizing that millennial job seekers prefer to communicate via text message and mobile apps, rather than by email. The company introduced its first product in 2015, and used iCIMS’ UniFi platform to integrate TextRecruit messaging applications with iCIMS’ talent acquisition suite. Since then, TextRecruit has expanded its portfolio and partner network to become an important real-time messaging application for recruiters, iCIMS said in a release. TextRecruit will continue to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of iCIMS. Comodo: Comodo (Clifton), a cyber security technology company, was approved for $3.4 million in Grow NJ grants over 10 years as an incentive to open a facility in Roseland, rather than in Utah thereby keeping 49 jobs in the state and creating 71 more. The net benefit to the state will be $48.4 million over 20 years. Comodo recently introduced a new program that will clean a company’s computers for free one time only. Comodo’s analysts will instantly remove all malware lurking on a company’s website, perform hack repair, including checking the files, databases and any malicious code in order to remove infections from the site, and they will keep the customer fully updated throughout the process, the firm said.   NB Ventures: NB Ventures, doing business as GEP, a procurement software and supply-chain services firm, was approved for a total of $7.4 million in Grow NJ grants over 10 years to expand in Clark rather than moving to Delaware. That would keep 178 jobs in the state and add 147 more, as well as giving the state a net benefit of $64.1 million over 20 years. GEP recently announced that that it has integrated its SMART by GEP procurement software platform with Amazon Business, providing its global enterprise customers with access to Amazon Marketplace. &nbs […]

  • 5 Mistakes Tech Entrepreneurs Make That Cost Them Equity
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    I’ve spoken with many entrepreneurs and one thing that keeps them up at night is the mistake that costs him or her equity. We’ve come across quite a few of these with our clients. Fortunately, with a little knowledge and foresight, you can avoid making them. Knowing what those mistakes are and how to fix them could be the difference between burnout and payout. 1. Lack of proper documentation Lack of documentation is probably the biggest trigger of a lawsuit – and costly settlement. The problem isn’t when companies go bankrupt.  It’s when they are successful (remember Paul Ceglia who claimed he owned 84% of Facebook?) Anybody who has an email, letter or recollection of a conversation about shares they were promised will come knocking if they think they can get a quick payout. An email or letter isn’t sufficient. Spend a few grand on legal fees and set up these things: A stock record of all share certificates that have been issued. Make sure the certificates actually have been issued and keep copies of them if they are paper-based, PDFs if they are electronic. A written stock option plan. At the founding, set aside 10% of your equity for stock options. If you go to raise capital, this will count against your shares outstanding, so don’t put aside more than 10%. You can always raise it later. Make sure you get proper board authorizations and follow your attorney’s instructions for making stock option grants. Keep copies of the grants! Set some standards for who should get how many shares. For example, a non-founder CEO of an established, funded startup may get 5% – 10% of outstanding shares. A cap table. This is a listing of who owns what shares and stock options. It should be updated every time an equity transaction is made. As you grow you can automate this using services such as Carta (formerly eShares) 2. Raising money after running out of cash Investors gain tremendous leverage when they know their cash is going to save your company from going under. Avoid a down round by not putting yourself in this position in the first place. Create a cash flow projection of 6 – 12 weeks to give you advance notice for when funds may get tight. 3. Failure to track founder capital contributions Document every dime you put into your business. Do not commingle funds, such as putting business expenses on your personal credit card. It gets messy and nobody ever spends the time separating the two. Write checks to the business and classify them on your books as either capital contributions (preferred) or loans. If investors can’t easily determine how much the founder has put into the business they will discount the amount and negotiate a higher percentage ownership for themselves. Keep in mind that if you put founders loans on your books and hope to raise outside capital, more often than not the investor will want that loan converted to equity. Loans make your balance sheet weaker as they are a liability to be repaid. Investors want to see a healthy amount of founder capital invested in the business so they know you are committed. It also helps you as the cash committed counts against the valuation of the company and your percentage ownership stake. 4. Negotiating valuation over terms A term sheet has arrived and that valuation you worked hard for has materialized. The problem is that it came at a big cost of liquidation preferences. When that payout comes, your investors may enjoy a guaranteed rate of return before you and your angel investors see anything. Terms matter, and shrewd attorneys can help you balance the tradeoffs between valuation and terms. 5. Unintelligible financial reporting Investors will not invest in your business if they can’t understand it. The language they speak is written in financial statements. If your financials are hard to understand, poorly prepared or are riven with errors investors will use that as leverage to get more equity. Make sure you can pass due diligence by having a seasoned expert review your systems prior to raising funds to ensure the information produced by your accounting can withstand scrutiny. Better yet, implement sound financial systems from the start. You’ll get the information you need to grow the business, make due diligence easier, and impress investors who have seen too many shoddy financial systems in their deals. Rob Ripp is the Founder and President of Fintelligent.  Fintelligent provides virtual CFO, Controller and Bookkeeping services to fast growing companies in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia. […]

  • Lawmakers Approve Massive Incentive Package to Try to Win Amazon HQ for Newark
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

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