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

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  • At Stevens Hackathon, Students and Community Come Together to Solve Digital Healthcare Challenges
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

        The Stevens Venture Center (SVC) held its first hackathon on October 6-8, and it was a hackathon with a purpose. The Digital Healthcare Hackathon was designed to bring together the community, tech students and budding entrepreneurs to solve critical challenges in medicine. Participants could work in one of two areas: digital solutions for improving medication compliance or telemonitoring/telehealth solutions for improving patient access to diagnosis or treatment. The first-place winner was Team Ethyl, which was awarded $5,000. The members included Chris Blackwood and Ryan O’Shea, both Stevens students; and Sharan Juangphanich, an electrical engineer at Canary Connect, a New York startup offering a connected security solution. The Ethyl team proposed a wrist-worn device for former substance abusers that allows a community of friends and other former abusers to help track and support the wearer during the recovery process. The idea for the hackathon came from Stevens alum Premal Kamdar, a 2013 engineering graduate who recently completed a digital health innovation fellowship at the Texas Medical Center, in Houston. “We worked together for eight months to make this happen,” said Adrienne Choma, director of the SVC, in an interview. Choma noted that this was the first time Stevens had opened the SVC to members of the community and students from other colleges. “We advertised all over the place for applicants. We had 130 applicants for 50 slots.” She said that they had kept the participants to 50 so they could form ten teams of two to five people. The hackathon culminated in a pitch competition, in which the teams presented their ideas to a panel of judges that evaluated their technological and business viability and awarded a total of $10,000 in prizes. “We knew we wanted to do the presentations on Sunday evening. If we had a larger number of teams, it would become unwieldy.” The hackathon organizers wanted the teams to reflect “a good balance of Stevens students, students from other universities, business people and healthcare professionals. We were after a good mix on each team,” Choma said. The second-place winner, Team Lux, proposed an application to help patients adhere to a medication regimen. That team was made up of four Stevens undergraduate students,Zachary Caldarola, Lucas Gallo,Nicole Fosko and Melissa Vicino; as well asChandler Maskal, a graduate student Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who had interned at Booz Allen and Johnson & Johnson. Team Diagnose.me, consisting of Stevens undergraduates Matthew Sabatini and Mike Wezyk, won third place for a planned platform that uses machine learning to accurately diagnose patients based on demographics and personal health information. Another team, My72, consisting of all Stevens students didn’t place among the winners, but is putting together a company, finalizing development and planning to join the SVC, Choma noted. The proposed company will seek to ensure efficient diagnoses by providing healthcare solutions and drug-effect analytics. The team has an advanced physical sensor system that can monitor critical conditions and deliver expert care remotely via push notifications to the doctor, along with feedback about the patient’s condition. This system could enhance patient experience by making effective medical care possible in the comfort of the patient’s own home. It also enables doctors to prioritize their time for the patients who need them the most. The team included freshmen Daniel Gulko andJoshua Schmidt and graduate students Krishanu Agrawal, Ankita Narayan andChristina Eng. “I’m really pleased that there were freshman on the team because it exposed them to learning entrepreneurship early in their careers at Stevens, which is one of our objectives,” said Choma. The hackathon participants attended workshops on development and prototyping, big data and healthcare, pitching business ideas and raising seed capital. They also spent hours in a series of hacking sessions in which teams worked to solve a specific healthcare issue. The weekend included a dinner attended by about 100 people, as well as a keynote address by Paul von Autenried, senior vice president and CIO at Bristol-Myers Squibb (New York), and a kickoff speech by Jarrett G. Bauer, the CEO of Hoboken-based Health Recovery Solutions. Donald Lombardi, associate professor at the Stevens School of Business, served as the master of ceremonies. Choma organized the hackathon with Kamdar and his brother Vishal Kamdar, an analyst at the investment banking firm Evercore (New York). The group behind the event also included Stevens undergraduates Austin Cawley-Edwards and Francesca Bueti, and Mukund Iyengar, assistant professor and entrepreneur in residence in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In addition, nine organizations signed on as sponsors: Bristol-Myers Squibb, CarePoint Health (Bayonne), Gibbons P.C. (Newark), Greenberg Traurig (Florham Park), Hackensack Meridian Health (Edison), Health Recovery Solutions, Lowenstein Sandler (Roseland), New Jersey Innovation Institute (Newark) and Quest Diagnostics (Secaucus). Up next for the SVC is more community involvement. “I’m looking for ways to get Stevens involved with more community companies and the overall community in New Jersey,” Choma said. “We are planning another event in January that we are calling ‘LaunchPad.’ LaunchPad is a program we started last year. It’s similar to a hackathon but it is a business-planning weekend. Last year, we had five teams that got together and came up with a business plan for a company, and two of them actually went on to start companies.” In 2018, rather than just use ideas that are internally generated, Stevens will reach out to other organizations for real-world ideas. “I often get calls from community companies or alumni that have ideas. They want to start a business. They need technical people to implement it, whether it is mechanical engineers or programmers. We are setting up a program where we will prescreen people to come in and form teams with our students.” These companies will have to commit to working with the students for at least a year and provide them with compensation and some equity. […]

  • E-Commerce, Digital Marketing Big Factors in “Watch Yo Mouth” Success, Caiola Says at Scarlet Startups
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

      More than fifty people attended a Scarlet Startups meetup to listen to 2013 Rutgers graduate Joe Caiola speak at the Rutgers Business School, on the Livingston Campus, on October 25.  At 27, Caiola is the youngest alum to come back and speak at Scarlet Startups, the largest alumni network at Rutgers. Caiola revealed some insights that have helped him grow his business—its chief products the board game “Watch Yo Mouth - The Original Game and the e-commerce site associated with it—to seven figures in one year before selling the company in August. He also discussed some basic business principles that entrepreneurs should know, such as understanding your minimum viable product (MVP); utilizing the “build, measure, learn feedback loop” to improve your MVP; and knowing how to choose your launch strategy, whether it be based on bootstrapping or crowdfunding. Even after they make those initial decisions, entrepreneurs continue to make ever-important decisions as their businesses grow, said Caiola. For example, choosing the right product manufacturer is vital. Details such as a manufacturer’s location will affect the cost of manufacturing and freight shipments associated with fulfillment. Hiring a sales agent as an intermediary between your company and overseas manufacturers is extremely helpful when entering negotiations with foreign manufacturers. However, be mindful of the fees sales agents charge, he advised. Overseas manufacturers are cheaper than those in the U.S., but there are drawbacks, Caiola noted. For example, he originally sourced the parts for the Watch Yo Mouth game from overseas, having the pieces shipped to his house. The freight costs were astronomical, he said, and “my girlfriend and cofounder Kelsey [Abrams] and I would have to assemble the games ourselves.” Caiola also emphasized the need to “always make sure to ask manufacturers for a sample. If they are a good company, they should have no problem doing this.” A solid marketing strategy will boost the chances for success in e-commerce. Caiola put $40,000 into digital marketing campaigns, and generated seven figures in revenues from them. “Find products that are similar to yours and identify marketing campaigns that worked for them,” he advised. “For me, I knew the product skewed toward women based on social media demographics, so I would run campaigns targeting women, and also people who liked Cards Against Humanity.” Caiola eventually made enough to begin assembly in the U.S. Most assembly companies, however, do not provide fulfillment, so he highly recommends partnering with a third-party logistics company if you cannot secure your own warehouse. He also stressed teamwork and organization. Without them, his bootstrapped startup would never have undergone its trial-by-fire blaze to success. Mistakes were made, but Caiola is not ashamed of them. “Entrepreneurs are seen as rock stars, but we really need to bring them down to our level. If there was a playbook, the route we took was the hardest way to create a business,” he said. His best strategy for beating the competition to market is a straightforward one: “Be faster.” This, he said, is a simple, but hard lesson for entrepreneurs to learn. Caiola himself is a living testament to the wisdom of that strategy. In fact, he brought the idea for Watch Yo Mouth to life in less than a day, having accidentally stumbled upon itwhile at work on May 12, 2016. That day, Caiola cancelled a 4 p.m. meeting and spent the rest of the night building a website. He then put together a $30 marketing campaign with Abrams. Watch Yo Mouthmade $1,000 in sales overnight. But he didn’t have a product yet! The ensuing scramble forced Caiolaand his team to learn some tough business lessons. The team’s lucky break was that all they had to do was catch up to demand, not reinvent the wheel. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my team,” he kept reminding the crowd. Caiola is a lifelong entrepreneur. He began his first startup before college, selling after-market car parts. The idea fizzled, and so did two more that he pursued while in college. But, “I genuinely love entrepreneurship and business. Failures don’t matter all that much.” The talk was sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Minor/Concentration program at Rutgers and Scarlet Startups. These organizations host events monthly as a way to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem. […]

  • Sponsored Post: Issuer, Beware! The SEC (and Others) Are Carefully Watching ICOs
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

     [Sorin is an office managing partner and cochair of the Venture Capital & Emerging Growth Companies practice at McCarter & English.] With the advent of blockchain technologies and related service companies, many startups are employing or examining a new way to raise capital: initial coin offerings (ICOs). Many of these ICOs are being conducted outside the scope of securities laws and regulations, relying on the presumption that the instruments being offered (referred to alternatively as coins or tokens) are not securities and, therefore, are not subject to the regulatory requirements applicable to securities offerings. Issuer, beware!  The SEC and other regulatory bodies are applying a facts and circumstances test to each ICO, and looking at underlying economic realities of the offering.  The U.S. Supreme Court long ago determined that an instrument was a security subject to U.S. securities laws if it (1) involved investment of money, (2) was in a common enterprise, (3) included a reasonable expectation of profits and (4) derived from the entrepreneurial or managerial efforts of persons other than the investor.  These criteria are being applied to ICOs, and their first cousin, SAFTs (simple agreements for future tokens), to determine if the coin offered is a security. While cryptocurrencies may result from technological innovation and increased reliance on and acceptance of a digital economy freed from the concepts of hard currency and related monetary instruments, securities laws are not the only issue to consider.  Some economists are concerned about the sovereign power of nation states to control and regulate their money supply, with the concomitant impact on the viability and effectiveness of monetary policy.  Like the SEC, interested in maintaining confidence in securities markets, governments too are examining the risks and rewards of cryptocurrencies and their possible impact on the future viability of government power and economic policies. What are ICOs?  Basically, companies are able to raise capital by creating and selling their own cryptocurrency in exchange for either “real” currency or another form of virtual/digital currency.  These tokens may be used to acquire future products or services of the issuer, but also may be held or traded for investment purposes. Some issuers, perhaps in an effort to avoid SEC regulations, have narrowly defined their cryptocurrency as utility tokens, limiting their use only to acquire goods or services from the issuer, similar to a prepaid gift card whose value can change based on the laws of supply and demand.  Utility tokens, properly defined, should not be classified as securities. But SAFTs, dividend- or interest-bearing tokens, or those that involve revenue sharing or profit sharing, are securities, and issuers of these instruments should err on the side of conservatism and compliance.  They may register their offerings of cryptocurrency in a traditional registered public offering, or otherwise comply with the securities laws and SEC rules and regulations, by relying on exemption therefrom, such as the private offering exemption, Regulation D, or Regulation A+ offering, the latter of which just may achieve the elusive twin goals of sales and issuances to non-accredited investors and free tradeability post-offering.    The SEC warned this summer that regardless of terminology, it is examining the “economic realities” of each ICO to determine if a coin or token is a security—and soon thereafter, intervened in the highly anticipated ICO by Protostarr, a blockchain-based startup. As a result, the company was forced to cease operations and refund the Ethereum collected in its crowdsale that it conducted outside the scope of securities regulatory requirements. Because some professionals and investors caution that ICOs are speculative and ripe for abuse, it is undeniable that the SEC will, especially in light of the huge dollar amounts at issue and the high-risk nature of these transactions, seek to regulate most ICOs as securities, though some limited issuances of cryptocurrency may well be utility tokens, narrowly defined so that they do not fall within the purview of the securities laws. ICOs face a rapidly evolving future.  There are clear and compelling economic and monetary policies and implications associated with cryptocurrencies and their offerings and subsequent trading, yet  cryptocurrencies offer incredible opportunities for capital raising, economic risk and reward, and peer-to-peer electronic cash exchange that can reduce risk and help companies avoid financial institution intermediation.  The breadth of applications is stunningly large, with the possibility of disrupting virtually every industry.&nbs […]

  • The Companies that Received Millions through the New Jersey EDA’s NOL Program This Year
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

      The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) announced that 39 companies were approved to share over $46 million through the state’s Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program, also known as the Net Operating Loss (NOL) program.  The amount was up from $35 million last year. In essence, the NOL program lets tech and biotech companies with protected intellectual property sell their New Jersey tax losses and/or R&D tax credits to raise cash to finance their growth and operations.   The program provides a critical source of funding for emerging companies during a stage when non-dilutive growth capital is difficult to obtain, the EDA notes. This year, tech companies took home nearly $17 million in non-dilutive funding, while biotech companies took home about $29 million. A total of 22 tech and 17 biotech companies participated. Company   Municipality   County Type of Company Acuitive Technologies Allendale Bergen Tech Advaxis Princeton Mercer Biotech Agile Therapeutics Princeton Mercer Biotech Angel Medical Systems Tinton Falls Monmouth Biotech Arable Labs Princeton Mercer Tech Avlino Holmdel Monmouth Tech Bellerophon Therapeutics Warren Somerset Biotech Brilliant Light Power Cranbury Middlesex Tech Cancer Genetics Rutherford Bergen Biotech CircleBlack Princeton Mercer Tech ContraVir Pharmaceuticals Edison Middlesex Biotech Crescenta Biosciences Union Mercer Biotech CytoSorbents Corporation Monmouth Junction Middlesex Biotech Edge Therapeutics Berkeley Heights Union Biotech Elite Laboratories Northvale Bergen Biotech Enhatch Inc. Hoboken Hudson Tech Eos Energy Storage Edison Middlesex Tech Flowonix Medical Mount Olive Morris Tech FUSAR Kearny Hudson Tech Hemispherx Biopharma New Brunswick Middlesex Biotech I.D. Systems Woodcliff Lake Bergen Tech Impactivate Networks Atlantic City Atlantic Tech Matinas BioPharma Nanotechnologies Bedminster Somerset Biotech Vitals (MDx Medical, Inc.) Lyndhurst Bergen Tech Miami International Holdings Princeton Mercer Tech Moblty Livingston Essex Tech Nanotech Industrial Solutions Avenel Middlesex Tech Nephros River Edge Bergen Biotech Ocean Power Technologies Pennington Mercer Tech Oncobiologics Cranbury Middlesex Biotech Rive Technology Monmouth Junction Middlesex Tech SightLogix (Automated Threat Detection) Princeton Mercer Tech Solidia Technologies Piscataway Middlesex Tech Soligenix Princeton Mercer Biotech Svelte Medical Systems New Providence Union Biotech Teleran Technologies Fairfield Essex Tech United Silicon Carbide Monmouth Junction Middlesex Tech VectraCor Totowa Passaic Biotech Voxware Hamilton Mercer Tech     &nbs […]

  • Technology Marketing in the Digital Age: How (and Why) to Begin a Social Advertising Campaign
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    You’ve spent time and resources creating newsletters, case studies, videos, etc. but how can you spread these to more people in order to get yourself more exposure? Social media is a great tool for doing this. Here’s the rub. In the B2B market, I find that with most companies I work with, there is a cap on organic growth of their social media following. After a while, the growth slows to a crawl. In addition, an existing social audience may not always be relevant to the business. For example, many of my social media subscribers are competitors and parties who do not necessarily represent valuable business contacts that I really want to engage. The benefits spelled out According to the Social Media Examiner’s 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report greater than 88% of marketers who've used social media marketing for more than one year report that it generates exposure for their businesses. And 78% reported that it was a direct result of increased web traffic. When you consider a paid social advertising campaign, you can target a large audience with razor like accuracy based on your own specific criteria. Your content will never go to waste. According to Sysomos Social Marketing Playbook 2017, a social advertising campaign offers:    A wider, more diverse target audience reach for your content Organic follower growth Opportunity to touch harder-to-reach recipients Intelligence that shows leads from click-throughs What makes for good advertising content? Any area in which you’ve invested precious time and resources that offers value and educates your stakeholders is an ideal candidate. You can direct your most valued prospects to a video, white paper or a landing page with its own URL that describes your offering, a downloadable asset and a call to action. (For more details, see my NJ Tech Weekly article, “Today’s content marketing and why it matters for your go-to-market strategy.”) And there’s your earned media. If you are lucky enough to get press coverage, whether local or national, it’s promoted for about 24 hours and then lies dormant on its own URL. Sure, you post it on your News/Press website page, but what can you do to get more eyes on it? A paid advertisement that points to your article allows you to determine just who you want to see it and broadens your reach. Before you start your campaign When planning any advertising campaign, here are the top issues you need to consider: What are your marketing goals for the month/quarter/year? If you’ve done advertising before, what are your best performing content and campaign messages? (Tip: you’ll be able to repurpose them for your ad campaign.) Who is your target audience? What social media platform(s) is your audience primarily on? What will you use to measure your campaign success? Number of leads, request for demos, clicks, etc. Get out your yardstick Once you’ve set up a campaign, make sure you measure everything. Paid social advertising makes that easy to do. Metrics consist of who visited/downloaded your site/content, how long they were engaged (think video time), what they shared, and what actions they took. Use your cost-per-click to measure what each of these actions cost you and you can figure out total ROI for your campaign. Now that we’ve discussed the pros of using paid social ads to promote your dearly made content, you understand why paid impressions can be one of your most prized techniques for getting traction with the right audience. Remember if you’ve invested in resources to create this content, you need to finish the race and invest in advertising that will increase your exposure. And that makes all the difference for your business bottom line. […]