Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the official launch of the second annual class of entrepreneurs involved in TechLaunch, New Jersey’s Technology Accelerator. As an investor in and mentor to this new class of entrepreneurs, it was fun to see the teams, all clad in bright blue t-shirts, provide the audience with the quick preview of their company’s idea. For a glimpse of these exciting new companies, see the recent profile in either NJ Tech Weekly or North Jersey.com.
TechLaunch was the brain child of Mario Casabona, a seasoned entrepreneur himself and former chairman of Jumpstart NJ, an active angel group. Formed in collaboration with the NJ Economic Development Authority, Montclair State University, Casabona Ventures and a group of experienced entrepreneurs and angel investors, TechLaunch is seeking to launch 8-12 new companies in the NJ area each year. The program is designed as an accelerator model that combines seed capital, co-working space, mentoring, access to investors, and 16 weeks of training and pitch development which culminates with “Demo Day” on September 19, 2013.
As an angel investor, being able to participate in the accelerator stage provides a unique opportunity to interact not only with very early stage companies but also with the other investors and mentors to the program who bring a wealth of diverse knowledge and experience to the table. In many ways this model is similar to the approach of Golden Seeds, the investment firm through which I make the majority of my investments, as investors are able to leverage the organization’s diverse expertise when evaluating an investment opportunity.
For many angels, including myself, investing in early stage companies is about more than just the potential for financial return. Brian Cohen, Chairman of New York Angels, sums this up quite well in his recent book, What Every Angel Investor Wants You to Know:
“The biggest driver for me is the thrill of inspiring, advising, and mentoring the brightest young minds in the world as they work incredibly hard to create something new and exciting. The chance to improve the world is what gets me up in the morning with a checkbook in my breast pocket.” Brian S. Cohen
I certainly echo Brian’s sentiments above. The new class has at TechLaunch has officially “launched” and now all the real work begins……..
See you at DEMO DAY in September!