By GREGORY ZELLER //
If you’ve ever considered investing in smartphone-based job-candidate psychoanalysis, this was your event.
Pitching everything from real-time commuter scheduling apps to, yes, a “mobile-powered talent-assessment system,” five next-level technology startups came face-to-face with a roomful of regional investors Friday, when the Long Island Capital Alliance hosted its quarterly Capital Forum in Melville.
Focused this quarter on technology, the forum attracted a quintet of early-stage tech companies – including one based on Long Island and one that’s been plugging away for nine years – and an audience of roughly 70 potential investors, representing the Island, New York City and points even farther afield, noted LICA Executive Director Carol Lane.
“It was a good mix,” Lane told Innovate LI. “We had investors from New York City and a couple from New Jersey. We’re trying hard to expand the investors that we bring in and I think we’re doing a good job of that.”
The audience was warmed up by a keynote address from Daniel Wolfe, president, COO and managing director of New York City-based business-development/VC firm Harris & Harris Group, a publicly traded company that focuses on “transformative companies enabled by disruptive technology,” Wolfe noted, often in the companies’ earliest stages.
Among other things, Wolfe discussed the differences between investing in startups, where the risk is the innovative technology, and later-stage firms, where the tech has been “de-risked,” and investor peril is more about corporate execution.
While he admits to being “a neophyte regarding the Long Island economy,” the New Jersey resident said he was impressed by the LICA showcase, which attracted “a lot of good people interested in innovation and technology.”
“This was high-quality attendance,” Wolfe noted. “At the end of the day, I’m a big advocate of companies looking for sources of capital in untapped or underserved markets.
“There’s money everywhere,” he added. “It’s actually getting the product to the money that’s the difficult thing to do, and LICA is well-positioned to help do it.”
The assemblage also gave props to LICA Treasurer Jim Mattatut, who was presented an award by LICA Chairman Neil Kaufman honoring Mattatut’s 20 years of service to the Capital Alliance.
It was then onto the company presentations, with a panel of experts – serial entrepreneur Rich Foster, six-time VC fund limited partner Charles Parmele and Dan Conley, founder of the New Jersey Angels + Investors Life Sciences Networks – weighing in on the five investor pitches.
Those pitches, Lane noted, were sharpened with the help of a “LICA coach,” assigned to each of the presenting companies “to make sure we’re actually presenting the type of information an investor would be interested in.”
Regaling the panel and audience with seven-minute presentations, and follow-up Q&As with the panel, were representatives of Assessment Innovation, a data-driven NYC-based talent recruitment, evaluation and management system that automatically screens job candidates and matches them to available jobs “by harnessing the power of the smartphone and the latest findings in psychology,” according to the company’s website.
Also presenting was NYC’s ConnectAndSell, a circa-2007 cloud-based sales-acceleration platform that helps B2B reps connect with decision-makers at other companies, and DatArcs, a New York City startup developing the next generation of “dynamic tuning software” to maximize server efficiency and performance inside data centers.
Representatives of Rally Bus, an NYC-based technology offering “crowd-powered travel for the 21st century,” discussed their method of connecting multiple riders heading to the same event or destination aboard a high-end luxury bus, while Long Island innovation was represented by Mobileware Inc., a Stony Brook-based designer of real-time, commuter- and location-based scheduling software.
Among other apps, Mobileware is the creator of the Metropolitan Transit Authority-approved onTime: LIRR app, which keeps riders up to the minute on Long Island Rail Road schedules.
Lane noted the “strong caliber” of the presenting companies.
“We had some good feedback from the audience on the caliber of the companies as well as the quality of the presentations,” the LICA exec said. “We do have to teach them, in terms of the type of information an investor would need to hear, and it seems that’s working.”
That bodes well for the Capital Alliance’s next quarterly innovator-meets-investor breakfast – a Healthcare Capital Forum scheduled for Dec. 9 – and for the next session in the alliance’s Entrepreneurship Education Series, an Oct. 25 seminar focused on attracting and retaining top talent and the do’s and don’ts of stock-based compensation.
Like the themes of the quarterly capital forums, those topics were selected with one thing in mind, according to Lane: strengthening the regional economy.
“We feel these are the most important things,” Lane said. “We’re trying to support the ecosystem of Long Island businesses and we’re trying to create forums where these businesses can learn and present themselves.
“Really, this is all focused on the Long Island economy.”