VC CHATS: Inside The Minds of Investors – Virtual Pitching 101

Due to recent events, startups & investors have had to change the way they connected with one another. With that change came a large amount of misconceptions and fears presented within the startup ecosystem.

We have collaborated with Grit Daily to provide you with insight from two powerful venture capitalists about:

  • How things have changed for investors in the era of COVID
  • How founders should reconsider their business offerings
  • How they should make their biz plans & forecasts more realistic
  • The art of nailing a “pitch-by-zoom”
  • and so many other hot button topics

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

Loralyn Mears, Writer – Grit daily, Moderator
Loralyn Mears is a freelance columnist at Grit Daily covering coaching, tech startups, women-in-tech, events, and investors along with wine-food pairings. She spent over a decade playing with mosquito DNA, got her PhD, decided she would rather market science than be at the bench and has never looked back. Along the way, she’s wined and dined her way around the globe. She’s authored two books, including the 2018 Gold Medal Indie Book award-winning, One Sip At a Time: a Memoir. Check out her Women-in-Tech LIKE A BOSS podcast which features fascinating guests with snappy insights. Today she runs “Toasted Marshmellow” and helps companies with their go-to-market strategy whenever she’s not cooking for her teenage step kids who are *always* hungry.
Gina Tedesco, Managing member – Amala Ventures, Guest speaker
Currently, Ms. Tedesco is managing member of Amala Ventures, a venture firm investing in early stage companies with diverse teams and innovative and disruptive technology in the USA and Brazil. Ms. Tedesco is a member of Golden Seeds and member and board member of Jumpstart NJ Angel Network.
Mario Casabona, Founder and Managing Director – Casabona Ventures, – Guest speaker
Mario is an entrepreneur and active angel investor. In 2006, he founded the micro-VC firm Casabona Ventures, investing in over 25 early stage companies. Investments are currently focused on seed stage companies and the Internet of Things (IoT) .

Communicating to Funders: Data + Stories in Virtual Times

Due to recent events, not-for-profits everywhere have had to make slight to radical shifts in programming. To ensure safety among their staff and communities served, those with immediate resources made the call to transition toward virtual programming.

For some it came with few adjustments, for others it was a forced necessity that they were not prepared for. Through the lens of nonprofit leaders, funders, and a digital learning and evaluation expert,

We will explore:

How to center the populations served and front line staff in all decision-making processes (micro)

Use data to drive meaningful collection of new stories or narratives (within virtual environments). (meso)

Best ways one can manage new expectations with funders to work collaboratively. (macro)

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
Amanda Ebokosia, MA – Founder, CEO at The Gem Project, Inc., Moderator
Honored by The White House and named by Forbes as a Millennial on a Mission, Amanda A. Ebokosia is Founder & CEO of The Gem Project, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that works to improve high school and college student engagement and on-time graduation through service-learning initiatives, which take on a social justice approach. Since inception, The Gem Project has directly impacted the lives of 2000 youth and young adults.
Elizabeth Bishop, PhD – Director of Curriculum and Outcomes Evaluation at Global Kids; Assistant Director of Strategy, CUNY SPS Youth Studies – Moderator
Dr. Elizabeth Bishop is an educator, researcher, and youth advocate. She serves as Assistant Director of Strategy for the CUNY SPS Youth Studies program where she teaches on the faculty and also serves as Director of Curriculum and Outcomes Evaluation at Global Kids. Previously, Bishop taught on the faculty at Ithaca College, served as Deputy Director at the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School and as Assistant Director of the Peace Corps Fellows Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Originally from Newtown, Connecticut, Bishop began her career as a classroom teacher in the Bronx and has served in leadership positions across NYC public schools and youth development organizations.
Amanda Espaillat, Gem Project High School Fellow – Panelist
Amanda Espaillat is a current sophomore high school student, residing in Newark, New Jersey. Espaillat has been a Gem Project fellow for the past year working on several student-led initiatives, which include revising and drafting a policy brief on improving relationships between students and teachers, voter engagement.
Monica Hall, MPA – Program Associate, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – Panelist
Monica Hall serves as Program Associate at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Her work supports RWJF’s focus on developing networks of leaders from every sector who share a vision of what shapes health, and who join together to effect change. She views her work as “supporting tomorrow’s leaders and helping to extend their influence and impact in building a Culture of Health.”
Hawwa Muhammad, MPA – Founder & CEO, Pink Trumpet – Panelist
Hawwa is a social entrepreneur with a passion for helping others bridge creative ideas with sustainable strategies to achieve positive social impact. She is Founder of Pink Trumpet, a business related to helping nonprofits and businesses effectively design, communicate, and amplify their social impact strategies.
Jennifer Negron, MPA – Program Officer, The Pinkerton Foundation – Panelist
Jenny has a unique perspective on the value of Pinkerton grants. In 1998, three days after graduating from New York’s high school for pregnant and parenting teens and six weeks after the birth of her son Joel, she went to work as an “Explainer” in the Science Career Ladder program at the New York Hall of Science–a longtime Pinkerton grantee. While there, she completed her B.A. at Queens College and went on to earn a Master’s in Public Administration at Baruch College. She eventually rose to lead the 100 high school and college Explainers who guide thousands of visitors through the Hall of Science each year.
Shadae McDaniel, MSW – City Leader, All Stars Project – Newark, NJ – Panelist
Shadae McDaniel is City Leader of the All Stars Project (ASP) of Newark. She oversees all of New Jersey All Stars’ free performance-based, after-school youth development programs, including the All Stars Talent Show Network, the Development School for Youth and the All Star’s award-winning Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids. McDaniel directs the ASP’s non-profit partnerships and community-building activities in New Jersey and is also a member of ASP’s national senior leadership team, which is currently working on an extensive reorganization to advance it programs to thrive on a virtual stage.

Natasha Dyer, MPA, SHRM-CP – Deputy Director, Newark Trust for Education – Panelist
Natasha Dyer is Deputy Director of Newark Trust for Education. Prior to joining the Trust, Natasha served as Office Manager for the Vice President and Assistant Vice President of Arts Education at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. There she developed a deeper understanding and attraction to the educational landscape of her hometown—Newark, NJ. With a commitment to the development of her city, Natasha has devoted significant time to civic engagement and immersion in the arts community of Newark.

AI, Business, and Its Impact on Human Currency

EqualSpace AI

 An Op-Ed Piece by Keishawn

I, Robot, Detroit: Become Human and Wall-E all taught us the frail balance between man and machine. Although, looking back, technology such as: the print and press, pulley and the wheel portrayed the gaping margin of ability which separates us. Staring these comparisons in the face, mankind still finds ways to incorporate our gift from the universe into our everyday lives, our most present example being the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in business.

Defined as the ability for a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior, the roles given to them have been quite remedial in a sense. To name a few, personalization, filtering, and certain customer service tasks have been popular among most. But what does it this mean to us, why should we care if businesses use AI? Well for starters it could be the end of your current job, or the start of your new career.

Imagine never having to clean your house again. Dust no longer lingers on the floor. Dishes always sparkling and your laundry (oh boy the laundry) the absence of stains replaced by crisp folds. What would you do with your spare time? How would your life change if one of your most remedial tasks simply vanished?

In business, the practicality of AI is almost comparable to the internet itself. Many business owners, whether small or sizable, find a lot more possibilities within the workplace when their most menial tasks are automated. The feeling is indescribable when answering calls turns into investing or categorizing files transforms into brainstorming, even filtering content turns into innovating. AI can even put business owners in a positive financial position. The average business spends around 10%-40% of their gross income on paying employees. Realistically speaking, the AI doesn’t need to eat, sleep or take vacation days; however, is the 40% profit boost really worth it?

Endless job searches, cut throat interviews, and the unrivaled determination of others in the workplace. Ever since our first job we’ve done nothing but compete. Countless hours spent stressing over how to answer self-incriminating questions and how to maintain the job you’ve loosely managed to secure. The stress of competition never left or revealed the slightest bit of leeway. Accompanied by the dreaded feeling of “Lazy Morning” in which you’d do anything to save you from leaving the comfort of your bed.

Who knew we were competing with ourselves!

All things considered, what are the chances of getting our name tag on a cubicle when there’s opposition that never sleeps, eats, or even flinches at reoccurring late nights. If we as a species can’t out work a print and press? How do we begin to oppose Siri and Cortana? Luckily, for every dark, there’s a light and for every machine there’s a technician.

Since these machines take on so many tasks at once, non-stop, they almost have little choice but to demand an overseer due to unforeseen discrepancies and flaws. Messiah’s such as IT professionals and System Admins give all of us hope that we are still worth something in the eyes of an electronic future. AIs may even prove beneficial, in the end, to entry level employees because it forces us to gain new and relevant set of skills we can use for the betterment of our own futures; while also making the future of our customers even brighter.

EqualSpace AI

As a regular consumer of Amazon, T-Mobile and Coldstone, I believe I wield a certain appreciation for an organized workplace that works quickly with little friction. I, personally, fear late night troubleshooting or ice cream cravings because people tend to have lives that the need to get back to towards the end of the day. In the near future, AIs may make that after hours scoop of ecstacy possible. However, under all the convenience of instant gratification, humans are naturally social animals and a comforting voice behind our phone screens may be all we need after a stressfully competitive day. This AI thing may be a bit uncomfortable or it could the start of something amazing, I’m not sure. What I do know is, however it ends up let’s just hope our frail balance is kept.

I, Robot taught me all too well.

Content Continues to Reign Supreme: Lessons and Reflections from the E3 Gaming Expo

E3 Gaming Expo

Earlier this month, the ever so anticipated gaming expo, labeled E3, took place in Los Angeles, California. Top companies in the industry came together to host this event for the gaming community and announce upcoming products, projects and services still in development. Opportunities for marketing and funding for these businesses are plentiful; however success not guaranteed for all with regard to recruiting new and veteran gamers.

In an ever changing and exponentially growing field, the amount of approaches toward their target audience is basically infinite for any given company. For example, Bethesda and Sony both left E3 with a variety of different outcomes, primarily due to contrasts in their presentations. Bethesda took a quality product approach, while Sony, a suspense intensive approach.

Microsoft E3 Gaming Expo
photo credit: Windows Central

In the aftermath, both yielded polar opposite; yet, beneficial results. Ironically, Sony’s conference was underwhelming. Despite the history and contribution to the gaming community, their portion of E3  left more to be desired. They led each upcoming game trailer with a live culture associated instrumental conceived a mist of silence that fell heavily amongst the crowd. The attempt to build suspense through audio was an amazing idea with profound musical choices that told a captivating story.However, no one was ready for what came next.

The games that were shown were somewhat repetitive or just not good. Elements that did garner a rise from the crowd was specific to a portion of the gaming community who have already pledged their allegiance to preceding storylines. An ideal example would be the difference in the reaction to The Last of Us 2 and Death Stranding. Although, Sony understood the power of suspense and harnessed it well, they left out the actual content people wanted to be excited for in the first place.

Fallout 76 Station. photo credit: Josh Miller for CNET

On the other end of E3, in its earlier stages, Bethesda took the stage only armed with confidence and quality and left with much more of using suspense as a vessel for their games. Bethesda took it upon themselves to bluntly showcase what they were working on and the crowd had absolutely no problem with it. They developed content fans have been actually wanting for years such as: The Elder Scrolls 6 and Fallout 76. This display of “gamer loyalty” provided Bethesda with a fanbase wielding the devotion of true Spartans. By focusing on the content and allowing the suspense to manifest on its own, Bethesda gave their audience little time to wither with fresh and genuine responses. Feedback to a service based business is one of the most important “currencies” one could ever receive.

However, reflecting back on this event, we can ascertain feedback is not only a reassuring war cry but also, in some cases, humiliating silent stares. With regard to business metrics, we can determine the value in our next presentations and ask ourselves, “is this pointless suspense or exciting content,” to not only accept the feedback we need but also the type we desire.

=SPACE Announces Newark Tech Week 2017

=SPACE Announces Newark Tech Week 2017

Festivities will kick-off at The Second Annual Newark Tech Summit, in recognition of Newark’s emerging tech scene

Newark, NJ (September, 25 2017)– =SPACE, Newark’s premier co-working space and incubator, today announced official dates for Newark Tech Week, a weeklong city-wide celebration of technology and innovation, which will take place October 18 through October 22. The week will launch simultaneously with The Second Annual Newark Tech Summit at 2 Gateway Center, C&K Properties’ Class A office building, in the heart of downtown Newark.

Newark Tech Week is a true collaboration of The City of Newark, local startups, entrepreneurs, universities and incubators, meant to promote connectivity and showcase its evolution into a dynamic tech hub, as part of Newark’s greater technology renaissance.

“As home to several successful startups across varying industries and disciplines, Newark’s technology community has experienced a rapid surge of growth,” stated Medina, =SPACE CEO and Newark Tech Week co-founder. “Our overall mission is to unite those companies both during Newark Tech Week and on a long-term basis.”

“It’s no secret that Newark is quickly becoming one of the largest business destinations in the region,” added Kevin Collins, managing director at C&K Properties. “We are honored to contribute to the ongoing revitalization of Newark’s technology community by providing best-in-class working environments that are conducive to creating best-in-class technologies and innovations for generations to come.”

Newark Tech Week will feature a select number of events, comprised of engaging demonstrations and panels. Events at this year’s Newark Tech Week, include:

  •      10/18: 2nd Annual Tech Summit, 2 Gateway Center
  •      10/19: NJIT: AI Robotics Showcase, NJIT, Campus Center Atrium
  •      10/19: Ideation: The Fownders Experience, Fownders, 48 Norfolk Street
  •      10/19: Technic Basket: Technic Talk, =SPACE, 2 Gateway center
  •      10/20: Have You Met Newark, TBD
  •      10/20: Urban Cities Rise in Tech, =SPACE, 2 Gateway Center
  •      10/21: Claim It! Truck  Giveaway, 55 Park Pl
  •      10/21: Calixtech News 1st Annual Newark Gaming Expo, =SPACE, 2 Gateway Center
  •      TED & Talk at Burg, 55 Park Pl, Newark, NJ

 

For a full list of events and activities, please visit www.NewarkTechWeek.com. Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.com. Vendors interested in participating in the Newark Tech Summit should email NewarkTechSummit@BeckermanPR.com.

About =SPACE

=SPACE is a premium co-working space for intellectuals, techies and entrepreneurs. =SPACE provide resources for startups, coaching for tech companies and a wealth of intellectuals to share strategies and bounce off ideas. The next wave in enterprises will be born within =SPACE’s walls. Everyone should have the opportunity to work in a dynamic space filled with entrepreneurs pushing the bar, feeding off each other and being vibrant innovators. For more information about =SPACE, visit equalspace.co.

About C&K Properties

Founded in 1989, C&K specializes in office and retail real estate investments in the New York metro area. C&K uses its local market knowledge; diverse functional expertise across construction, leasing, planning, valuation, acquisition, finance and research; an intensive, hands-on brand of asset management and the direct capital commitment of its principals to assure superior investment results. C&K also offers the same level of hands-on asset management as a third-party service provider for the benefit of non-operating, institutional owners of, or holders of security interests in, high-quality, mid-to-large scale, urban properties. For more information about C&K Properties, visit www.candkproperties.com.

Urban Cities Rise in Tech Roundtable

Urban Cities Rise in Tech Roundtable

An active and unfiltered dialogue with leaders in urban cities about the realities of being huge growth factors for multicultural tech and yet being resource scarce. This close and personal experience will put attendees front and center with innovators of rebuilding cities in America. A moderator will guide them in a true discourse on the realities of the tech world, the obstacles that founders of color and women ventures face and their steps in building bridges and breaking ceilings. This is a hard look at the tech world with no apologies.

Apply to save money

You shop only when there’s a discount. You opt to make dinner at home rather than eat out at your neighboring restaurant. You are a student in the art of budgeting, but you have yet to be a teacher in properly saving your money. The fact of the matter is, penny-pinching is an effective method that it is also met with limitations when considering the multitude of calculations you’ll have to do. Frankly, it’s not unheard of to exceed your budget if your only scale of measurements are merely recalling numbers in your head or occasionally checking your activity log only to find out that you spent more than intended. That’s why adding applications (no pun intended) to your economic catastrophe will have you, the struggling budgeting student become the sufficient master.

Technology, rather than creep and crawl into our lives has instead lunged and jumped at us head-first. Instead of letting our techy friend crash to the ground, we should brace for impact, spread our arms and catch it. Figurative language aside, utilizing technology, namely phone applications, will serve as our money saving partner. Wired, the renowned news article, credits apps like Mint, Acorns, and Credit Karma as just a number of credible platforms for ensuring that budgets are upheld and money is preserved. Saving money is plausible, however applying applications will ensure credit certainty and an even healthier savings.

So Smart We’re Dumb?

Man has come to a steady conclusion: we are all only as great as the sum of our parts. We understand the importance of developing ourselves and being self-sufficient, but we also aren’t too proud to lean on a friend, a partner or a piece of software. Man continues to push his or her calendar of ideas, but specifically in pairs rather than individuals; however, our dependency has transitioned to favoring artificial intelligence. In a world consumed with smart phones and complex software, the onus towards our own development seems stagnant while for technology it appears to be more dynamic than ever. With our thesis of progression dependent on technology we can only ponder the limitations of our intelligence and the limitless opportunities for artificial partners.

Recently, Ray Kurzweli–computer scientist and member of Google’s staff–sought out to synthesize language with artificial intelligence as an application to our everyday life. Within the past few months, those who use Gmail (which are many) should have already encountered Kurzweli’s brain child of “smart replies,” where human language and artificial diction meet a medium. While engaging in a chain of email replies between yourself and a companion, at the end of the email you should be met with very adequate responses. Though a simple application in our everyday life, Kuezweli succeeds in blurring the lines of language as a human concept where software can simply replicate our diction and syntax with its smart replies.

We still only seem to be tapping the surface of the software we meddle in, and with such a great focus on artificial intelligence it makes you wonder if we have come to a standstill on our own intelligence. An interdependent relationship is ideal for growth and we have affirmed our relationship with technology as the current and ultimate bond of that paradigm; however, there is a fine line between interdependency and dependency. We’ll always be smart but will technology appear to be so smart that we seem “dumb” by comparison?

For more information, click here

Comic Book X Conversation 01 Founder, Andre Mason

Character diversity in comics books is a long-standing and overdue issue. However, it’s how many of the publishing companies have gone about creating and developing them that’s causing such controversy and backlash.

There’s a hand full of characters or color, gender, and sexual orientation is shown in a limited capacity for decades in mainstream comics. Publishers are navigating new territory by finally adding characters that are representative of today’s society. Unfortunately, this tactic doesn’t seem to be catching on. Several Indie books have shown great strides in this area and the big name publishers can take a cue from them. So how can comic book companies manage diversity and representation in their characters and make it effective for readers and sales?

Our discussion will cover:

  • Legacy vs New: The common pitfalls of inclusion in comic book narratives
  • How comic book publishers can learn from certain missteps
  • Reinforce positive representation for creators and fans and how important is it for the future of comic books