All-Female Funding Panel to Offer Advice to Entrepreneurs at New Jersey Technology Council Annual Conference
TRENTON, N.J. (April 11, 2018) – Hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors, and industry leaders will convene tomorrow (April 12) at the New Jersey Technology Council’s (Tech Council’s) 21st Annual Venture Conference. The afternoon-long program will highlight many of the State’s most promising companies and includes a pitch competition and networking opportunities.
Since 1996, the Tech Council has worked to support New Jersey’s entrepreneurs by providing business development, education, networking, and recognition opportunities to its more than 900-member roster. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) is a charter sponsor of the Tech Council and a sponsor of the Venture Conference. EDA Vice President, Technology & Life Sciences Investments Kathleen Coviello sits on the Tech Council’s Board of Directors.
“For more than two decades, the EDA has partnered with the Tech Council to spur innovation in the Garden State,” Tech Council President and Chief Executive Officer James Barrood said. “Countless technology companies have benefited from EDA funding and expertise throughout the years.”
Coviello will join three other female panelists, all of whom are investors, at tomorrow’s Venture Conference to talk about best practices for raising capital. These panelists include Edison Partners Partner Kelly Ford, Jumpstart New Jersey Angel Network (Jumpstart NJ) Board Member Gina Tedesco and Touchdown Ventures Director Deborah Zajac. Dynamk Capital LLC Co-Founder & Managing Director Daniella Kranjac will moderate the panel.
@NJEDATech asked each of the panelists for the one piece of advice they most often offer entrepreneurs:
“Access to funding is vital for any emerging technology company, which is why I always suggest that entrepreneurs explore the many financial resources the EDA offers to help them succeed,” Coviello said. “It’s also why the EDA routinely invests in venture funds that support growing technology-related businesses.”
Last year, the EDA invested in two New Jersey-based venture capital funds that will deploy EDA capital on a 1:3 basis in New Jersey companies. A $1 million investment supported Newark Venture Partners’ $23 million early stage venture fund, providing capital, company building services and housing support to innovative tech startups; and an up to $7.5 million investment will support Tech Council Ventures, which will make early stage venture capital investments. Tech Council Ventures has committed to invest up to 50 percent of their fund in New Jersey companies. The EDA is also a limited partner in the Tech Council’s NJTC Venture Fund, which has helped create over 1,000 jobs in New Jersey since its inception in 2001.
Edison Partners’ Ford offered this advice: “There’s lots of available capital out there, so it’s important to expect more than just a check. Take the time to meet and nurture relationships with potential investors well in advance of any fundraising effort, so that you can get a feel for how their people and programs can add tangible value to your business — from initial investment and over time.”
In January 2015, the EDA Board approved a $2.5 million limited partnership investment in Edison Partners’ fund Edison VIII. The $276 million fund has invested in 20 growth-stage technology businesses across three industry sectors: financial technology, healthcare information technology, and enterprise solutions (focused mainly on mobile, security and business operations software). The EDA previously invested in four other Edison Partners funds.
When she meets with companies, Jumpstart NJ’s Tedesco always suggests: “Do your diligence! Just as entrepreneurs research their customers to find product market fit, they need to research potential investors as well. A successful financing strategy is based on understanding the entire investor landscape and identifying all financing alternatives that match the type and stage of their business. A fundable venture for a given investor depends on their specific investment thesis, which includes the prospect of a profitable exit. The mirror image of product market fit is business investor fit. Strategic alignment between investors and entrepreneurs is key to achieving success for all.”
The EDA collaborated with the Tech Council to create JumpStart New Jersey Angel Network in 2002 as a way to connect early-stage technology companies with access to much-needed capital. Since its inception, JumpStart has grown to be one of the largest angel-investing networks in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Touchdown Ventures’ Zajac’s words of advice include: "Corporations are participating in funding startups more often, and at times, earlier. If there is a compelling strategic fit, consider corporate venture capital as an option. Aim to secure the right champion early for both commercial engagement and investment."
Representatives from Touchdown Ventures have attended five of the EDA’s New Jersey Founders & Funders events. Held semi-annually at the EDA’s Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies in North Brunswick, the event enables early-stage businesses to meet with potential investors in 10-minute, one-on-one “speed dating” sessions to discuss strategy, business models and funding opportunities. Zajac was also on hand for the EDA’s first-ever New Jersey Founders & Funders All-Stars event in December.
The EDA offers a multitude of resources to help technology grow and thrive in New Jersey. To learn about these resources, visit https://www.njeda.com/tls and follow @NJEDATech on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.