Business & Finance

New venture capital fund vows to transform Newark into high-tech hub

bccfa4bfae61c3fc5ba7_mini_magick20170322-23432-s8un4q.jpg
bccfa4bfae61c3fc5ba7_mini_magick20170322-23432-s8un4q.jpg

Newark resident Jimi Olaghere remembers a time 10 years ago when New Jersey's largest city was a veritable opportunity desert for a tech entrepreneur like him. But with Monday's announcement of a new $50 million technology venture capital fund designed to back early-stage tech companies in Newark and boost Internet connectivity citywide, Olaghere is more than ready to see the nascent venture fund make it rain for tech companies seeking to put down roots and grow in Newark.

Donald Katz, founder and CEO of Audible Inc., announces the formation of a tech venture fund known as Newark Venture Partners

"Newark's history wasn't great, but tech businesses have been bubbling in the city for at least the past decade," said Olaghere, the founder and head of business research and development at Geek Supply Company, an e-commerce startup in Newark that brings in, then distributes unique design products from China via the Port of New York and New Jersey and that recently expanded to include menswear and grooming products.

Sign Up for E-News

"Entrepreneurial tech companies in Newark are finally growing here, and the ideas being generated are great," he said. "It's a perfect time to be in Newark now. We just need the funds to help us execute our ideas properly, generate growth more quickly, and push us all up. It's time."

The leaders of the newly-created, early-stage technology venture fund, known as Newark Venture Partners, will provide capital as well as sophisticated company-building services and a collaborative state-of-the art 25,000-square-foot accelerator workspace with high bandwidth access to the Internet for innovative tech start-ups in Newark.

The accelerator is located at One Washington Park, which is next to Newark's Broad Street train station, just 18 minutes by train from Manhattan, and is home to the Rutgers University Business School, which is providing rent-free access to the accelerator, now being prepared for construction.

One Washington Park is also the headquarters of Audible Inc., one of the nation's most innovative producers of web-based spoken audio entertainment, information, and educational programming. The company became one of Newark's major corporate partners when it moved from Wayne to the city in 2007.

Audible founder and CEO Donald Katz, founder of Newark Venture Partners, framed the new tech venture capital fund and accelerator within the context of Newark's unique infrastructure.

"Newark sits atop of a vast network [of various varieties of telecom] fiber. To the many cable and telecom companies with presences here, this means that Newark, New Jersey is the place where the Internet comes up for air," Katz said. "I felt like Newark needed a calling card to connect the city to the explosion of innovation just a few minutes away to the east."

The room where the press conference was held to announce the birth of Newark Venture Partners was packed with much of the political and business establishment of both Newark and all of New Jersey.

Mark Grier, vice chairman of Prudential Financial, spoke to the crowd of more than 50 people inside Audible headquarters in Newark overlooking the city's skyline, with key business figures such as John A. Brennan, executive vice president of Barnabas Health, and well-known Newark philanthropist Ray Chambers looking on.

Political heavyweights on both sides of the aisle such as former Newark Mayor and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Democratic former Nebraska Governor and U.S. Senator and Medal of Honor winner Bob Kerrey, Republican New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Republican former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, a longtime, stalwart Newark supporter, all spoke in support of the new venture.

But it was Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, smiling as Newark Venture Partners leaders simultaneously announced the introduction of Firebolt Newark Wi-Fi, Newark's new free, fast, public Wi-Fi network designed to connect the city's downtown to the rest of Newark's neighborhoods, who asked those assembled, after more than a decade of entrepreneurial frustration, to believe the new fund's high-tech hype.

"It's the multiplier effect. For every manufacturing job that is created there is maybe one-and-a-half to two professional jobs that are created as a result of that manufacturing job. But when tech jobs are created, there are about four-and-a-half to five professional jobs that are created as a result of that technical job," Baraka said. "It's important for us to wrap our brains around what's going to happen here. If we expand in terms of technology and bring more technology companies to the city, we bring more jobs overall as a result at the same time to help us push forward to get more Newarkers employed."

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Newark

Newark Lures Amazon With $1 Billion Payroll Tax Incentive

July 11, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Amazon will get a payroll tax break at a cost of $1 billion to the city should the company open its second headquarters here.

It’s one of two ordinances that were approved by the Newark City Council council to sweeten the deal for the corporate giant and stand out among other locations vying for Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

“The City Council has brought Newark a ...

Mothers Mobilize in Newark to Protest Trump Family Separation Policy

June 22, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - A group of New Jersey mothers took time to come to Newark with the kind of loved ones recently taken from other mothers: their children.

"It's unconscionable that our government is stealing children from their parents and locking them up in cages," said Christina Liu, a Montclair mom holding her baby daughter, commenting on President Donald Trump's recent ...

Market Street Patrol Building May Be Named After Late Undersheriff

June 28, 2018

NEWARK, NJ — The death of Essex County Undersheriff Kevin Ryan on June 20 was a "devastating loss" for the department and for the county’s sheriff, Armando Fontoura.

“He was like a son to me. He was always the first one on the scene. He was always there to help. It’s just devastating. There is not much more I can say," Fontoura said in a ...

Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey Opens Camp DeWitt Conference Center and Activity Building

July 2, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, N.J. – If you don’t know by now, Girl Scouts is much more than cookies, crafts, and summer camp.

In fact, the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey say they should host your next professional business conference, special event, or any other big celebration in which you are looking to seriously impress.

Look no further than Camp DeWitt in Hillsborough, the site of ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_8fd7ffdcf0e8abaaca95_lincolnpark

Fri, July 27, 10:00 AM

Lincoln Park, Newark

Lincoln Park Music Festival Sustainable Health ...

Carousel_image_705db43167d2ae62207f_arjc_2018moviesunderthestars_tap1200x800

Thu, August 16, 5:00 PM

Branch Brook Park, Newark

Movies Under the Stars

To Our Current and Future Representatives

July 17, 2018

To Our Current and Future Representatives - Wherever They May Be:

We can never forget we are a nation of immigrants. 

We cannot fall prey to fear, ignorance and anger when we  have been historically driven by freedom and justice. 

We must have the courage and will to fight hate, bigotry and prejudice. 

We must not wake up to what we hoped was a bad dream and ...

A Statewide Solution on Disposable Bags Aids the Fight Against Litter

June 29, 2018

The New Jersey Clean Communities Council (NJCCC) just released the results of a year-long visual litter study that shows that nearly 10 percent of all litter on our roadways and highways is in the form of plastic and paper bags.

There is no doubt that these bags are of significant and ongoing environmental concern, creating an even more difficult job for our clean communities volunteers across ...