Newark Venture Partners recently hosted a full house at its biannual Demo Day, for its 7th NVP Labs class, at the Audible Innovation Cathedral. The event featured presentations from founders of the graduating companies, Botmock, Brahmin Solutions, Galaxy.AI, MindRight Health, omniX, Speak2 Software and SpeechKit. Other featured speakers included Don Katz, Founder and Executive Chairman of Audible, Newark Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, and Wole Coaxum, Founder and CEO of MoCaFi (an NVP portfolio company) who paid tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.
Don Katz, founder and executive chairman of Audible said, “Everyone loves a comeback story and Newark has a great one, including Newark Venture Partners, which is an internationally acknowledged phenomenon that has exceeded all of my founder expectations. When I recently visited NVP labs I was dazzled by one impassioned founder, team, and company after another. Now it is time to double down on NVP’s measurable success.”
Newark Venture Partners is an early-stage venture capital fund investing in B2B technology companies, while catalyzing the technology ecosystem in the City of Newark. It was founded by Katz to “help seed the next 10 Audibles” in Newark. To date, Newark Venture Partners has deployed $26 million to its portfolio of 74 startups. Across the portfolio, companies have raised $410 million in follow on funding.
“It is an honor to stand here in this remarkable building, now appropriately named the Innovation Cathedral, which represents a unique crossroads of Newark’s history and culture, and of its past, present and future,” said Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin. “Audible has breathed new life and new purpose into this space, innovating and creating jobs and opportunities for those who live and work in our great city. Now this place stands for all to see as a metaphor for Newark’s renaissance. I am grateful to Audible and its partner organizations in Newark Venture Partners for all their hard work and dedication to bringing local and global talent together to catalyze Newark’s tech ecosystem. Working together, we can and will continue to leverage our combined potential in order to grow the economies of Newark and of New Jersey.”
“This cohort is our most advanced group of startups yet, and as each group gets stronger and more advanced, the City of Newark feels a ripple effect with potential for new jobs, new solutions, and new opportunities,” said Tom Wisniewski, managing partner for Newark Venture Partners. “It’s a strategy for creating economic impact through innovation and Newark is showing the world that it can also spark a city’s renewal.”
The companies of NVP Labs 7th cohort include: Botmock, conversation design platform for voice tech; Brahmin Solutions inventory management system for mid-sized businesses; Galaxy.AI artificial intelligence solution for claims automations for the auto insurance industry; MindRight Health, mental health coaching via text message with a focus on communities of color; omniX, machine learning/computer vision platform that uncovers and analyzes data from existing company cameras; Speak2 Software, voice tech platform for senior and assisted living facilities that streamlines operations while increasing transparency for families; SpeechKit, text-to-audio platform for the online news media industry.
Dan Borok, Managing Partner of NVP said, “Innovation is core to New Jersey’s economic growth – and Newark has the potential to be a driving force for the state. Thanks to our group of engaged corporate partners, we are attracting businesses and talent from all over the globe to our space here on Washington Park – which is clear if you look at the roster of this latest cohort.”
The presenting group of companies includes founders from Kuwait, South Africa, Australia, London, India, and across the U.S., and more than half are founders of color. Across the portfolio, 56% of NVP investments were founded by at least one female founder or founder of color.
Last year the fund also made several investments in companies founded by Newark residents including MindRight Health, whose founder Ashley Edwards presented during the event. Edwards said, “I went to business school at Stanford so most people thought I would stay in Silicon Valley to grow my company, but MindRight Health was inspired by Newark’s students – so it just felt right to start and grow the company here in my community. I was a proud Newark resident long before Demo Day, but working with NVP Labs and other founders and innovators from all over the world has really confirmed my belief that Newark is a great home for any startup.”
“Newark’s been very welcoming to us. The NVP community itself has become this great resource and network – helping introduce us to investors and potential customers, while the city has so much to offer in terms of food, entertainment and history,” said Obaid Ahmed, Founder and CEO of Botmock. “This was a valuable experience for me as a founder, and for the future of our business.”
NVP Labs uses an inside-out sourcing approach using decision makers and experts within their New Jersey-based corporate partners, Audible (an Amazon Company), Dun & Bradstreet, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, Panasonic Corporation of North America, Prudential Financial, RWJBarnabas, TD Bank (through the TD Charitable Foundation), Fidelco Realty Group, and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, to identify and verify pain points within their industries. The partners then help select the most promising startups that offer scalable solutions to those pain points, creating an environment of motivated supporters and mentors within major corporations for the incoming class. The result is an increased number of corporate pilots and contracts, stronger products, and long term relationships.
The NVP Labs program includes an initial investment of $125,000, space within NVP’s coworking offices, housed in the same building as Audible and Rutgers Business School, as well as guidance from an in-house growth team that offers support for sales, marketing, fundraising, technology/product, and public relations. At the close of the 12-week program, NVP offers a minimum additional $100,000 follow on funding to participants in their next fundraising round, and potential to receive up to $1 million from its direct funding arm. The fund aims to grow Newark’s technology ecosystem by attracting startups to the city and recasting it as a pioneering innovation zone and ultra-bandwidth tech center with an engaged, supportive corporate community.
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