Ten teams of aspiring technology entrepreneurs
are calling Montclair State home this fall as they participate in an intensive
12-week technology accelerator and business boot camp called LaunchPad 1.
TechLaunch is New Jersey’s new investor-led technology
accelerator that helps transform innovative concepts into successful,
commercially viable business models through its LaunchPad 1 program. TechLaunch
has partnered with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA),
Casabona Ventures and JumpStart NJ Angel Network to help a select group of
portfolio companies pursue their start-up dreams.
While the seeds of a successful start-up can stem
from doodles scribbled on a cocktail napkin, the program provides the advice, encouragement
and coaching that can jumpstart success. Among other things, the 2012 portfolio
companies are developing a social media platform for athletes, smartphone
parental controls that prevent texting while driving, an online pop culture lesson
library for teachers, a community-based mobile social networking app and an event-based
Funding comes from the NJEDA and TechLaunch
investors, providing each participating portfolio company with $20,000 in seed
funding, expert mentoring, workspace and access to potential investors. In
return, TechLaunch will receive a 10-percent stake in the fledgling companies.
In the past, New Jersey’s would-be entrepreneurs
looked outside the state for funding from an accelerator program. TechLaunch
has changed that. “We’ve attracted top-tier talent,” says TechLaunch founder
and CEO Mario M. Casabona, a seasoned entrepreneur and venture capitalist.
LaunchPad 1 runs from August through October.
Activities include one-on-one mentoring and coaching from more than 75 successful
entrepreneurs and angel investors, regular guest speakers and networking opportunities,
weekly dinners and social events and trips to Fortune 100 companies.
“We’re taking our teams through a training program
that covers topics ranging from strategic planning to product plans, intellectual
property and technologies, and from sales and marketing to investor pitches,”
explains TechLaunch Executive Director Travis Kahn. The ultimate goal: to help
the budding entrepreneurs develop solid business plans that will attract follow-up
funding from investors.
“Montclair State is a perfect venue. It not
only provides easy access for New Jersey residents as well as state-of-the-art facilities,
but it is ideally situated just 14 miles west of New York City, the current tech
and investment hub of the East Coast,” says Casabona.
LaunchPad 1’s inaugural class of passionate
innovators enjoys access to campus workspace, conference rooms and even
optional housing, and the program also provides professors and students with
the opportunity to interact with the aspiring entrepreneurs.
LaunchPad 1 will culminate on November 1 with
Demo Day, when, armed with viable business plans, the portfolio companies will pitch
their start-ups to a select audience of qualified angel investors, venture capitalists,
business executives, professors and technology experts. “Our expectation is that
they will be impressed by an intriguing suite of portfolio companies poised for
success,” predicts Casabona.
“TechLaunch is leveraging New Jersey’s technology-based
assets and creating an environment that allows our most promising entrepreneurs
to grow and ultimately deliver products to market,” Caren Franzini, New Jersey
Economic Development Authority chief executive officer, says on the TechLaunch
“TechLaunch offers a wonderful opportunity to incipient tech companies seeking a firm grounding for a successful future,” says President Susan A. Cole. “Montclair State University is pleased to be the home for this important program.”