NVP Labs invests $1.2M in tech startups for Newark

By Emily Bader
Newark | May 8, 2020 at 11:22 am

Newark Venture Partners said on Thursday a new class of startups have joined its 8th NVP Labs program, a 12-week remote program focused on sales, fundraising and communications amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The program represents an investment of more than $1.2 million by NVP into Newark’s ecosystem.

“I’m thrilled about the quality of companies in this class as NVP doubles down on its commitment to attracting the next Audibles to Newark to create jobs and taxable revenue for the city,” Don Katz, Audible founder and executive chairman, and the founder of NVP, said.

The companies were selected out of a pool of 2,800 startups. This cohort has four female founders and four founders of color, representing industries in health tech, supply chain tech, voice and fintech.

“These companies will have access to the incredible domain expertise of Audible and our corporate partners, and they’ll see firsthand the profound business and moral case for being part of this urban comeback story,” Katz said.

They include:

  • ABF Creative, a Newark-based advocacy platform for the minority podcast producer to create, distribute and monetize content across all major streaming platforms;
  • VendX, a Newark-based provider of highly-customizable vending machines;
  • Vikar Technologies, an Old Bridge-based Client Lifecycle Management and Loan Onboarding and Servicing solution for banks and wealth management firms;
  • Optimal Dynamics, a Princeton-based provider of High Dimensional AI for the logistics and supply chain industries;
  • FleetOps, a Toronto-based provider that works with fleet brokers to give direct access to available drivers;
  • Clearstep, a Chicago-based AI-driven virtual triage and care-routing chat tool to simplify dialogue and understand patients’ needs;
  • Sounder.fm, a New York-based platform that hosts, distributes and makes discoverable podcasts;

The class, which will be mostly virtual due to the current global health crisis, raised the number of firms in NVP’s portfolio to 82.

“NVP invests in founders that are motivated by problem solving. Over the past few weeks, as the coronavirus pandemic has really developed – we’ve seen our Newark based startups run straight at the problems within the public health crisis and make a real tangible difference. Not only are they growing their businesses and sustaining local jobs, but they are doing meaningful work at an uncertain time,” Tom Wisniewski, managing partner at Newark Venture Partners, said. “Our new NVP Labs cohort has that solution-orientated mindset, and we are excited to bring them into our community.”

NVP Labs said it will invest an initial $125,000, with an additional $100,000 at the close of the program. NVP’s investment arm will also provide up to $2 million in subsequent funding rounds.

The companies will also get space in NVP’s coworking offices, which are housed in the same building as the Rutgers Business School and Audible. They will also be provided mentorship opportunities.

“This cohort is hyper focused on enterprise software within healthtech, supply chain and voice tech verticals. Our LP’s play an important part in our diligence process, sharing their expertise and insights on market problems and solutions. Their feedback is essential to our investment process and their mentorship and guidance gives our portfolio companies an advantage as they get to scale,” Dan Borok, managing partner of NVP.

The funds corporate partners include Audible, Dun & Bradstreet, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, Panasonic Corporation of North America, Prudential Financial, RWJBarnabas, TD Bank, Fidelco Realty Group and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

“We expect the execution support in sales will be especially valuable, given the current business climate, and we are integrating more virtual events,” Allison Williams, director of NVP Labs said. “But despite the pandemic and changing investment landscape, our mission is the same: find and fund the most promising entrepreneurs in the B2B space, and give them roots in Newark.”

Emily Bader | ebader@roi-nj.com | @emilybader