Changing Newark through tech: Six startups each awarded $100K, office space, consulting from NVP

By Tom Bergeron
Newark | Jul 3, 2018 at 6:15 am

Six Newark-based startups are each getting $100,000, office space and one-on-one coaching in sales, marketing and strategy.

In other words, they are getting everything a startup needs from Newark Venture Partners.

NVP, a growing capital fund founded by Audible CEO Don Katz with a mission to help build technology companies in Newark, made the awards last week at an event at the Prudential Center.

ClassTag, Designity, LendingFront, MoCaFi, PeopleJoy and Vetty all made presentations at the NVP’s fourth annual “Demo Day.”

Tom Wisniewski, managing partner at Newark Venture Partners, said he hopes the selection reaches the ultimate goal: To solve old problems with new solutions.

“Our Labs program is designed to target startups that look at old problems with fresh eyes in the B2B space,” he said. “If we can help them succeed, we can revolutionize the way businesses operate — both for Newark, and beyond the city’s borders.”

Dan Borok, managing partner at NVP, stressed the value the companies bring.

“We’ve chosen companies that solve a variety of issues that business owners deal with on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “The founders we are working with are extraordinarily talented and our Labs program helped bring their visions to life.”

NVP was founded by Katz in an effort to connect Newark to the East Coast technology ecosystem and recast Newark as a pioneering innovation zone and ultra-bandwidth tech center.

With billions of dollars earmarked for construction projects, affordable housing, new retail development and 21st-century work spaces, Katz feels the city is ripe for millennial entrepreneurs looking for alternatives to New York City.

NVP officials feel Newark offers easy access to New York City’s resources, but with a more affordable cost of living and doing business.

The event included a conversation around “Audio + Data” featuring John Harrobin, senior vice president of marketing at Audible, Ian Schafer, president and chief marketing officer at Muzik, and Scott Simonelli, CEO of Veritonic, an NVP portfolio company. Over 800 people attended, including investors, community members and decision makers from Audible (an Amazon company), Prudential, Panasonic, Horizon, Rutgers University, RWJBarnabas, TD Bank and Dun & Bradstreet.

A closer look at the six companies selected:

  • ClassTag provides teachers with an intuitive, easy-to-use platform for automating communication with parents, who can track their child’s classroom progress, all the while earning credits that can be redeemed for valuable classroom supplies. Forget about notes stuffed into backpacks; ClassTag brings classroom engagement into the 21st century.
  • Designity is the world’s first virtual design agency. Its model offers an agency experience at marketplace pricing through a collaboration of creative art directors and local emerging designers. Having earned support from top-rated design universities and industries experts, the community has completed more than 1,000 projects in 83 different design categories.
  • LendingFront is a technology platform that helps financial institutions enable small business lending operations. Founded by the team that built OnDeck, LendingFront allows lenders to automate, standardize and integrate core ending activities and data to fit their target operating model.
  • MoCaFi is a startup financial technology company that leverages mobile technologies, data analytics and digital strategies as it reimagines community banking for the 21st century. Its objective is to improve the financial lives of underbanked communities and enable people to achieve their long-term goals and create intergenerational wealth.
  • PeopleJoy provides employee engagement, talent attraction and retention solutions for employers by addressing the financial “pain points” of their workforce, with a special focus on student loan debt repayment. Founder Emeka Oguh has consolidated a complex web of 150 lenders into a simple plug-and-play solution for human resources teams, allowing companies to customize additional financial services based on the individual needs specific to each employee.
  • Vetty is a next-generation background verification platform. It creates mobile-friendly Verified Profiles on the blockchain, replacing the need for 25-page documents that are time-consuming, complex and difficult to decipher. It delivers secure, decentralized, verified profiles at a speed two to five times faster than competitors, and the profile is then owned by the user, making it a particularly useful tool to freelancers and the burgeoning gig-economy workforce.

Applications are currently open for NVP Labs Fall 2018 Cohort. To apply, click here.