In partnership with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, TechLaunch—an investor-led technology accelerator—is modeled after successful programs in the US and abroad. It plans to offer $18,000-$20,000 in seed money, mentoring from industry experts, work space (plus living space, if needed), and advisory services to the 10-12 Portfolio Companies chosen to participate. In return for the funding, TechLaunch receives a 10 percent stake in the company.
Until now, aspiring entrepreneurs in New Jersey had to look to New York City, Philadelphia, or beyond in order to pursue their start-up dreams with the help of an accelerator program. “We’re looking to attract top-tier talent who would otherwise leave the state because the support infrastructure wasn’t there,” says Mario Casabona, TechLaunch’s founder and managing partner, himself a seasoned entrepreneur and angel investor (a person who provides capital for start-ups).
“Montclair State is a perfect venue for our inaugural class. It not only provides easy access for New Jersey residents as well as state-of-the-art facilities, but is also ideally situated just 14 miles west of New York City, the current tech and investment hub on the east coast.”
The collaboration with Montclair State also provides a campus setting, 24-hour dining options, and offers residential housing for Portfolio Companies looking to relocate for the 12-week program, Casabona notes.
On the TechLaunch website, they say they are looking for “companies with a unique idea, even if right now that idea is scrawled on the back of a bar napkin.” Many applicants are expected to be Internet-, mobile- or software-based.
“We’re looking for those focused on social media, gaming, and e-commerce,” the website says, particularly those that support key New Jersey industries such as communications, media, biotech, manufacturing, health care, pharma/life sciences, or transportation. It adds that all companies must have at least two co-founders: “Going it alone is tremendously difficult, so we prefer a team to share the burden.”
The 12-week business development program, known as LaunchPad 1, runs from August 6-October 26 2012 and helps companies transform their ideas into successful businesses. Activities include weekly business sessions and one-on-one coaching, regular guest speakers, weekly dinners and social events, field trips to outside companies, weekly interaction with investors and venture capitalists, networking opportunities, marketing support, and continued encouragement and coaching. The program ends with Demo Day and an investor conference.
More than 50 people—primarily angel investors and entrepreneurs—have agreed to serve as mentors for program participants.
At Demo Day on November 1 2012, companies will present their start-ups to an audience of angel investors, venture capitalists, business executives, academics, and technologists in hopes of continued funding. The venue will be the Conference Center in University Hall.
For more details, visit www.techlaunch.com.