On Monday, May 24, the Venture Association New Jersey (www.vanj.com), presented its Spring Entrepreneurs Expo & Elevator Pitch Olympics at the Marriott Hanover, Whippany, NJ. The First Place Winner was iSpeech (www.ispeech.org) of Newark, NJ, which has developed proprietary technology for converting text into human voices and delivering audio anywhere to any client.
From 10:00AM to 12:00AM, 24 individual entrepreneurs seeking startup and growth capital showcased their companies to potential investors. At 12:00 Noon, the luncheon program began with a panel of investors who discussed the best ways for early stage companies to attract growth capital from angel or venture capital investors. The discussion was followed by The Elevator Pitch Olympics from 1:30PM to 3:00PM, during which entrepreneurs made their 2-minute presentations judged by the panel.
An elevator pitch is a short presentation made by an entrepreneur raising money for a venture. The term describes a pitch short enough to be given during an elevator ride, which may be the entrepreneur's only chance to talk with a potential investor. Just as in the real Olympics, the investor judges held up their scores and gave points ranging from one to ten in the categories of quality of presentation and business fundability.
The panel of investors and counsel was moderated by Michael Helmer, Esq., a Shareholder of Greenberg Traurig, LLP (www.gtlaw.com), an international law firm of over 1800 attorneys and government affairs professionals that includes a multidisciplinary emerging company practice focusing on guiding start up and early stage companies through all stages of development. Panelists included:
· Arrun Kapoor, Principal, SJF Ventures
· James G. Kollegger, CEO, Genesys Partners, Inc.
· Mark Padgett, Managing Partner, Plutus Capital Partners
· David Sans, Managing Director, Althia Capital LLP
· A. Wayne Tamarelli, Ph.D., Angel Investor & President, AWT Private Investments
· Peggy Wallace, Managing Director, Golden Seeds
· Robert Wexler, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, LLP
The first place winner, iSpeech, has developed a mobile app hailed as the solution to texting while driving. DriveSafe.ly™ is completely hands-free, reading text messages and e-mails aloud in real time using the company's text-to-speech cloud, which instantly delivers human speech anywhere with an Internet connection regardless of platform.
Second place was won by Indigo Biosciences Inc. (www.indigobiosciences.com), which recently introduced a new "Lab-In-A-Box" product line of easy-to-use cell-based frozen assay products to help reduce the cost, time and risks of drug discovery. Billboards 123 (www.billboards123.com), which has created a new quick change framing system for large format advertising banners on box trucks and tractor trailers, making formerly unavailable advertising space convenient and affordable, placed third.
Although winners do not receive monetary awards, the contacts they make can be very valuable. Arrun Kapoor, for example, one of the judges at this year's Olympics, recently led the funding of a New Jersey company that he met at a VANJ event last year.
"An Inside Look At Angel Investing" June 15 The next VANJ meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 15 at the Marriott Hanover, 1401 Route 10 East, Whippany, NJ. The featured speaker will be Joan Zief, an Angel Investor with Golden Seeds (www.goldenseeds.com), an investment firm focusing on women-owned and women-managed early and growth stage companies, who will offer an inside look at Angel investing from a woman's point of view.
Advance reservations can be made by calling Clara Stricchiola at (973) 631-5680, faxing (973) 984-9634 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and mailing a check ($35 for members, $55 for non-members) to VANJ, Box 1982, Morristown, NJ 07962-1982. Registration at the door is $75 after 12:00 Noon on June 14, 2010.