Startups grown in Newark build city’s reputation as a tech hub

BY Raven Santana, Correspondent |

Sevetri Wilson is one of eight CEOs that got to present their business plan to over 300 investors and founders at the 5th annual Demo Day at the Newark Museum.

Wilson’s tech startup was chosen to participate in Newark Venture Partner’s three-month bridge-to-seed program where participants work out of the company’s 25,000 square foot Newark Lab for free.

“As a fairly young African-American woman, going after businesses and deals and contracts has definitely been challenging. But programs like NVP Labs and these accelerators who welcome you in and kind of teach you the ropes,” Wilson said.

“Each company you’re seeing today we invested $100,000 in, and we guaranteed another $100,00 minimum if they go on to raise some money. Our goal is to put a half a million into them, and then put a million into them when they succeed. The idea is to bring them from infancy to heading out of the gates and running,” said Tom Wisniewski, managing director of Newark Venture Partners.

The chosen companies range from robotics to health tech, and include everything from voice technology that reminds patients to take their medicine, to software that simplifies the creation and management process of nonprofit organizations.

“That’s something that everybody in Newark will benefit from, not just the tech companies here. But as they spend money and live here it will accelerate the process of Newark’s turnaround,” he said.

Wisniewski said the program received 1,800 applications last year. Besides helping Newark become a hub for startups, Wisniewski says Newark Venture Partners is also focused on growing the city’s economy.

The program is responsible for 43 different startups, 70 percent of which maintain a presence in Newark.

“We believe this is the type of thing that’s a game changer. I believe they saw the potential for what Newark could potentially be and recognized the need to really be here in Newark,” said Joseph Scott, RWJBarnabas Health executive vice president of health care transformation.

Scott says the program is a chance to improve services and quality of life.

“It’s a great opportunity. There’s so many startups that are now coming to this area to really learn more about what that they can do from an innovation standpoint,” Scott said.

Newark Venture Partners is accepting applications for the next program that begins in April and ends in June. Applicants don’t have to be from New Jersey, and if chosen, they don’t need to stay in Newark once the program is completed, but the hope is that they’ll want to.