As part of Newark Venture Partners eighth NVP Labs cohort, a new group of startups joined the Newark tech ecosystem.
Cumulatively, the class represents an investment of more than $1.2 million by NVP, and includes two startups currently based in Newark.
The companies – which include ABF Creative, Clearstep, FleetOps, Optimal Dynamics, Sounder.fm, VendX and Vikar Technologies – were chosen from a pool of over 2,800 startups. They originate from Newark, Old Bridge, Short Hills and Princeton, as well as New York City, Chicago, Illinois and Toronto, Canada.
The 12-week program kicked off with remote sessions on sales, fundraising and communications during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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,” said Don Katz, Audible founder and executive chairman, and the founder of NVP, in a prepared statement. “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.”
This class will be primarily virtual for the majority of the program, due to the current public health guidelines.
Founders include former employees of Google, Spotify, Dropbox, and a former Princeton professor, as well as four female founders and four founders of color. The companies represent health tech, supply chain tech, voice and fintech verticals. This cohort raises the number of companies in NVP’s portfolio to 82.
A closer look
ABF Creative is a one-stop-shop advocacy platform for the minority podcast producer to create, distribute and monetize content across all of the major streaming platforms. Brand advertisers are able to contract with ABF Creative to get sizable reach to this unique and valuable audience. ABF was founded by Anthony Frasier in Newark.
Vikar Technologies’ Client Lifecycle Management (CLM) and Loan Onboarding and Servicing solutions provide digital transformation and workflow automation for the front, middle and back office at banks and wealth management firms. The enterprise software onboards and maintains clients and loans in a complete, end to end digital experience. The company is led by co-Founder Glenn Bolstad and headquartered in Old Bridge.
VendX, founded by Jessica Gonzalez in Newark, offers a customized, interactive, touch-screen vending machine experience for consumers – complete with prizes, giveaways or purchase options – while delivering valuable consumer insight and data to the partner brand. Brought to life by the award-winning team at InCharged and the innovators behind the LuxUVC disinfectant technology.
Optimal Dynamics was founded to bring breakthrough technology called High Dimensional AI to automate and optimize the logistics and supply chain industry. It helps companies optimize assets while managing third party capacity, enabling true dynamic planning and highly automated operations. It was founded by Daniel Powell and Warren Powell in Princeton.
Clearstep is an AI-driven virtual triage and care-routing chat tool that uses simple dialogue to understand patients’ needs and then connects them to the appropriate care with complete transparency around out-of-pocket costs and reviews. Clearstep was founded by Adeel Malik, David Zbarsky, Peter Garber and Bilal Naved in Chicago and New York.
Sounder.fm is an end-to-end audio platform built in collaboration with creators, for creators, founded by Kal Amin and Daniel Daugherty in New York. Sounder is a one-stop-shop that lets creators host podcasts, distribute them, make them discoverable, and get paid for their craft—no matter how large or small their audience.
FleetOps works with fleet brokers to give direct access to available and vetted drivers, via exclusive access with mandated telematics companies. FleetOps, founded by Chris Atkinson in Toronto, Canada, produces insights to match supply with demand, and uses the power of market liquidity to fill partially-full trucks, identify backhaul opportunities and win more business.
Admission to NVP Labs includes an initial investment of a minimum $125,000, space at NVP’s coworking offices, housed in the same building as Audible and Rutgers Business School, as well as guidance from an in-house growth team and mentorship network.
The fund’s corporate partners, Audible (an Amazon Company), Dun & Bradstreet, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, Panasonic Corp. of North America, Prudential Financial, RWJBarnabas Health, TD Bank, Fidelco Realty Group, and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority are especially engaged with NVP Labs companies, providing market-based insight, technology assistance, and high level networking opportunities.
At the close of the 12-week program, NVP guarantees a minimum additional $100,000 follow on funding to participants in their next fundraising round, and potential to receive up to $2 million from its direct funding arm.
During the program, founders have access to the program’s full-time growth director, a sales advisor, finance and public relations professionals and a team of entry-level sales development reps to assist in outbound prospecting. The program aims to guide companies to achieve strategic plans and scalable marketing and sales operations. The NVP mission is to help innovative entrepreneurs build distinctive B2B tech companies while catalyzing the technology ecosystem in the City of Newark.