Tech

William Paterson student develops employment app, wins pitch competition

William Paterson University‘s Cotsakos College of Business recently held its 2019 Pitch Tank Competition and announced the winner, who will go on to compete at UPitchNJ, a statewide collegiate business model competition.

The winner of this year’s $3,000 first prize was Mojahed “Moe” Hamdeh of Wayne, a senior majoring in financing and professional sales and founder of “Employ Me!” an app that connects entry-level potential employees to employers.

Hamden said his employment platform targets students from ages 16 to 25 who are seeking employment or internships, and matches them with employers who are seeking entry-level roles.

Four other students also won prizes for their ideas in the final round of the competition, a six-month process that includes writing a detailed business plan and seeking advice from mentors and professors. Presentations were judged on innovation, the school said, as well as need and market, revenue and sustainability, investment requirements, marketing and launch, and preserverance and competence.

“We are grateful to the faculty, staff and judges who continuously promote a spirit of entrepreneurship among our students,” Siamack Shojai, dean of the Cotsakos College of Business, said. “I congratulate the William Paterson students who participated in the competition for making us proud.”

The other student winners were:

  • Adrian Rodriguez of Paterson, a senior majoring in financial planning and economics, won the second place award of $2,000 for developing Pocket Advisor, a web platform for users to aggregate financial data to help manage their financial lives.
  • Kacper Boguszewski of West Milford, a sophomore majoring in sales, won the third place award of $1,000 for Wheel Hub, a web platform for car enthusiasts to locate and purchase aftermarket wheels that will fit their car.
  •  Sherif Gharib of Little Falls, a junior majoring in accounting, won $500 for Sheakon, an inflatable bed rail for toddlers.

Hamdeh will compete with his app at UPitchNJ on April 26 at Seton Hall University.

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How gaming impacts the world positively

One of the greatest things about the tech revolution is just how much fun it can be at its best. Right now, that fun is extending into places it never existed before, creating new industries and business models. (And it might even boost some legacy industries, too.) 

We’ve heard plenty in recent years about gamification in business. And the field’s pioneers are increasingly learning from experience how to make it work — in other words, how to make it both effective and fun. But, thanks to four researchers from Brigham Young University, we’re now seeing evidence that shared electronic gameplay can promote collaboration and productivity even when teams are playing conventional games. And the improvements can be substantial. 

File photo
James Barrood of the New Jersey Tech Council.

Maybe that shouldn’t be a shock. As Ladders reports, BYU’s researchers pointed to ways in which video games help people maximize focus, reinforce repetition, promote trust and communication among people who didn’t previously know each other, and support the brain’s ability to remember and organize information. It would almost be more surprising if that didn’t improve productivity. 

Those business benefits are the excuse I used recently when I permanently relocated our family’s Xbox to the Tech Council’s New Brunswick office — much to my daughters’ chagrin. But, then, they’re getting some authentic benefits from gamification, too. As creators and collaborators on “Roblox,” they’re building friendships through collaborative play they direct themselves, in appealing environments that actually do spark their imaginations. “Roblox” even gives them a gentle introduction to coding, with its kid-friendly tools for building new games. From all I can see, when they’re on “Roblox,” they’re having the positive experience you’d hope “social” would be. 

We’re all familiar with the simulation elements of games, but many of us don’t realize how they can be used to build empathy by sharing the experiences of other human beings. Some of us encountered this first a couple of years ago with the profoundly moving game “ThatDragonCancer,” built by Ryan and Amy Green to share their family’s experience living through the life and death of their son Joel. More recently, as The New York Times reported, the game “Chinese Parents” has been helping Chinese youth and their parents understand each other better, by simulating the experience of raising a child from birth to college. Those players are experiencing the game as fun — but a very deep and connected form of fun. 

With the kind of brain impact that videogames can clearly have, they might even be able to offer some clinical benefits. And we’re seeing companies attempt to program games that target specific cognitive systems, aiming to ameliorate ADHD and several other conditions. If that work continues to progress, games might soon complement or supplant existing therapies. And, of course, a videogame can be cost-effectively “administered” virtually anywhere. 

Finally, as conventional sports face growing challenges and declining viewership, they just might be saved by the growth of online sports betting. That issue is getting plenty of attention in New Jersey, thanks to its recent legalization here. (If you’re interested in the impact and implications of online sports betting, join us at the Tech Council’s April 11 Venture Conference at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, where DraftKings co-founder Matt Kalish will keynote and share his unique insight at the center of this fast-growing industry.) 

We’ve all experienced plenty of negativity surrounding tech lately, some of it deserved. But wouldn’t it be great if — after all that — the future is fun?

James Barrood is CEO and president, New Jersey Tech Council.

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Edison Partners leads $62M investment in YieldStreet

Princeton-based investment firm Edison Partners has led a $62 million investment in New York-based digital wealth management platform YieldStreet, it announced Tuesday.

YieldStreet will use the funds to introduce new investment offerings, expand investor access and increase retail investor education and engagement, Edison Partners said in a news release.

“YieldStreet is democratizing the next frontier of wealth management, giving retail investors access to institutional-grade investment products that were previously off-limits to them,” Chris Sugden, managing partner, Edison Partners, said in a prepared statement. “They have found a profitable and scalable high-growth model in a variety of investments, and are now broadening their offerings with additional products.”

Sugden will become a member of YieldStreet’s board.

The fintech firm enables investors to participate in a wide variety of asset classes, improving access for non-institutional investors.

YieldStreet has more than 100,000 members who have invested more than $600 million through the platform.

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Hit the accelerator: SOSV’s O’Sullivan shares history, and future, of tech-centric Princeton VC firm

One of the largest decentralized accelerator programs in the world, SOSV, is headquartered in Princeton, a fact that many don’t know. 

Its founder and managing general partner, Sean O’Sullivan, identifies as a Princeton resident, engineer, inventor and “now, a venture capitalist.” O’Sullivan spoke recently at Startup Grind Princeton about his entrepreneurship journey and his investment philosophy. The conversation was moderated by Startup Grind organizer David Stengle.

O’Sullivan is a well-known name in the tech community. For example, he is credited with inventing the term “cloud computing” with George Favoloro from Compaq. In 1985, he founded MapInfo, which delivered the first version of street mapping to personal computers. 

Now, O’Sullivan devotes his time to SOSV, which, according to the company’s website, “provides intellectual and financial capital to accelerate founders’ big ideas for positive change. SOSV has funded over 700 startups to date. We currently fund over 150 startups per year through our programs: HAX (hardware and connected devices), IndieBio & RebelBio (life sciences), Chinaccelerator (cross-border internet and mobile in Asia) and Food-X (food innovation).” 

O’Sullivan says the company is taking applications for a new blockchain accelerator that will be headquartered in New York City.

O’Sullivan grew up on welfare, in a family with nine kids and a “deadbeat dad” who left for good when Sean was 3. He made it to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a technological research university in upstate New York, and eventually began his career as a serial entrepreneur. 

“What enabled me to get ahead was education,” he said, which prompted him to combine his passion for learning and giving back by underwriting Kahn Academy in Mountain View, California, a free educational resource, in its first stages of development.

After selling his first company, O’Sullivan tried a variety of career paths, even taking a stab at being a musician and a filmmaker, before realizing that his best opportunity to have a true impact on the world “was to create lots of companies.” He invested as a “super angel” for many years, but he formalized his investments into a real venture capital firm. And, now, he said, “We have about 110 staff, which for a VC firm is huge.”

“Our focus is different from most venture firms. We do something unique.” While SOSV started by backing companies O’Sullivan liked and thought had a good chance of success, it now goes much deeper into tech. By starting accelerators, O’Sullivan’s team found that they could place “a lot of shots on goal and build ecosystems and work with founders at a stage that I find is most enjoyable,” which is very, very early on. 

More than 5,000 companies apply each year to get into the SOSV accelerators, and the 150 who get accepted receive between $100,000 and $250,000 (depending on the accelerator) for the first commitment; in return, they give up about 7 percent of their equity. 

“We take those companies; get them market validation; work with them to get the proper market fit working; and, depending on which accelerator, we work with them deeply on the technologies.” At the HAX location in Shenzhen, China (there’s another one in San Francisco), SOSV has a 50,000-square-foot space with various types of manufacturing equipment and 28 engineers on staff, O’Sullivan said. The engineers know radio-frequency engineering, industrial design, mechanical design, design for manufacturing and so on. “We can take a team of two, four or five people and make them look like a 50-person organization.”

The team is paramount, O’Sullivan explained. “You can’t just be a single person and get much done. You have to be able to work with a team. We won’t back a single founder. Not because a single founder can never make it, because they can, but it’s a slower way to try and make it. You also end up with a lot of psychopaths. If you’ve got a couple of people who are working together and trust each other, that’s a pretty good indicator.” There will be hard times, there may be times when founders need to go without paychecks; and the company won’t get through these lows unless the team has a high level of commitment. O’Sullivan said it’s even better when the team members love each other.

As a founder, you must build a team and recognize that you don’t want carbon copies of yourself on it, Sullivan said. You want a highly balanced team. “When we look at teams these days, we actually give all of our startups personality testing.” 

There are multiple types of people: Some are more focused on relationships, some focus on innovation, some focus on synthesis and society, while others are more analytical. SOSV administers this testing before it makes a major investment, although not before it takes a company into the accelerator, because the team will change and get rounded out as the startup grows.

SOSV applicants apply for the vertical they are interested in and fill out a form. From eight to 15 teams are accepted into a cohort, funded by SOSV. Those companies physically take up residence in the SOSV space, generally for about four months; in a larger space like HAX, they can stay for a year. At the end of that period, they host a demo day. If all criteria are met, SOSV helps them find the best financing for the next stage of their development. 

Then there are specialized services for the companies. At the IndiBio accelerator, for example, there are wet lab facilities and all the equipment needed for genetic engineering and synthetic biology.

“I think that community, that sense of community, is the most phenomenal benefit,” O’Sullivan told Stengle. “Actually, being able to go to others and share really bad deep problems and the dark moments of the soul that everyone has as a founder” is one of the major pluses of being in this environment.

Closer Look

Name: SOSV
Headquarters: 174 Nassau St., Suite 300, Princeton (offices in U.S., Ireland, China)
Public/private: Private, founded by Sean O’Sullivan in 1995
Employees: More than 110
Specialty: Funded more than 700 startups to date; presently funding more than 150 per year through HAX (hardware and connected devices), IndieBio & RebelBio (life sciences), Chinaccelerator (cross-border internet and mobile in Asia) and Food-X (food innovation).
Follow: sosv.com and @sosvvc 

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From hacking to health care: McCarter & English attorney says advancing tech paints cybercrime bull’s-eye on industry

Scott Christie led the computer hacking division for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Newark office, where he went after big-time cybercrime intrusions.

It has a surprising overlap with his current gig — representing health care clients.

Christie is an attorney that assists these clients with data privacy matters and cybersecurity issues. And this industry is one of the top targets for cyberattacks, with various sources putting the dollar figure in terms of damages within the ballpark of an annual $5 billion, or sometimes more.

The longtime expert on hacks said that picture is only getting more complicated. The same technologies in the health care industry that sound most exciting also bring the potential of opening up new vulnerabilities to hackers and making for a murky legal landscape.

“All of the technology that is revolutionizing medical care carries with it concerns that may not be fully addressed — some might not have even been considered,” Christie said. “The proliferation of technology as well as health care data ups the consequences.”

The health care industry is perhaps better than most industries at thwarting these threats, but with the pace of medical technology being also more rapid than most, the assurances are few.

Christie, who practices at McCarter & English LLP, said health care innovations in some cases might be trading security for greater flexibility. Telemedicine might be one of the most broadly adopted of recent health care technologies — and it’s certainly not immune.

“As we sit here today, telemedicine is becoming a much more common and accepted practice with new advances in technology,” Christie said. “Platforms such as Skype or Facetime are becoming more popular for this real-time interactivity. And videoconferencing tools have ratcheted telemedicine up a level.”

From a legal perspective, there are clear benefits — doctors have an objective record of what is said to a patient if there were to be a claim that led to a malpractice lawsuit. Patients profit from that session being preserved because they have something to refer back to when part of the conversation was missed.

But, with any sensitive information transmitted electronically — particularly when it’s potentially being stored — there’s a target for hackers. Christie said those concerns are intensified by the fact that the content might be a patient in some state of undress, as might be required to diagnose a condition.

Besides privacy matters, there are other legal challenges that come up, including the uncertainty regarding where a patient is located and how that interacts with a physician’s licensing.

“So, you run the risk if you’re dealing in a telemedical manner with people as a New Jersey doctor, that you’re unwittingly treating a patient in Hawaii or some other state in which the doctor is not licensed to practice,” Christie said, adding that third-party services were cropping up now to validate the state of residence of patients that contract with doctors permitted to practice there.

Patients should expect the same level of care and professionalism during a telemedicine visit as with an in-office visit. That means the medical staff follows all HIPAA laws and information is secure.”— James C. Wittig, chairman, orthopedic surgery, Morristown Medical Center

Telemedicine has many local pioneers; Atlantic Health System is definitely one. Among the many new ways it is used by the organization is to connect neurologists with patients who are having strokes, beginning an assessment of the time-sensitive condition during the ambulance trip to the hospital. That’s starting to be introduced as well for cardiac patients and those suspected to have sepsis.

James C. Wittig, chairman in the orthopedic surgery arm of Atlantic’s Morristown Medical Center, said that, last year, the system also began offering around-the-clock access to physicians with “virtual visits.” The remote appointment is sometimes done on a live video conference.

Wittig, who also serves as a medical director for orthopedic surgery, orthopedic oncology and sarcoma surgery, said the service is conducted using a platform called MDLive. It’s a secure tool, he said, designed specifically for the purpose of these virtual doctor visits.

“Atlantic Health System has produced a series of standards, guidelines and best practices for providers to ensure that they are using these online platforms responsibly,” he said. “Patients should expect the same level of care and professionalism during a telemedicine visit as with an in-office visit. That means the medical staff follows all HIPAA laws and information is secure.”

While local health care providers are finding the right protective mechanisms for current telemedicine uses, an attorney such as Christie sees potential pitfalls in the way these technologies may start to be utilized as it becomes even more widespread.

Also on Christie’s radar are some next-gen medical innovations that might be extraordinarily difficult to totally secure. 

For example, radio-frequency identification — or RFID — is a technology that’s starting to gain more relevance in the health care setting. This technology is starting to be more widely adopted for keeping track of scalpels and other instruments in the surgical theater, to make sure everything is located where it should be.

“But, very quickly, this technology is not used for things as narrow as tracking surgical instruments but also to help identify the location of patients in a hospital,” he said. “These RFID tags on a bracelet can store data, much more than you could print on those bracelets. … Attendant to that are privacy issues, because this sensitive data — unless you could encrypt the radio-frequency content — could be intercepted in transmission. That’s a problem.”

Even further on the horizon, Christie expects virtual reality to introduce additional privacy problems, particularly once it begins to realize its potential to be used for treatment of dementia or other mental illnesses.

If Christie seems to see the potential for a hacker disruption anywhere, it’s because time dealing with them has taught him this: When it comes to new technology, he said, “It’s only a matter of time before a hack occurs.”

Conversation Starter

Reach Scott Christie of McCarter & English LLP at: schristie@mccarter.com, or 973-848-5388.

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Catalent appoints new president, COO

Catalent Inc., a Somerset-based provider of technologies and solutions for health products, announced Alessandro Maselli has been named its new president and chief operating officer.

Prior to his appointment, Maselli served as senior vice president, global solutions at Catalent.

“Catalent has enjoyed strong organic growth and integrated several strategic acquisitions since becoming a publicly traded company. We have now reached a stage where we can benefit from more executive team bandwidth to permit the necessary focus on both external opportunities and on operational excellence across our broad scope of businesses,” John Chiminski, chair and CEO of Catalent, said.

“Alessandro will focus on the growth of our existing businesses, drive integration across our offerings, and meet customers’ ever-expanding needs for improved drug development and supply, while I will focus on long-term strategic growth, exploring future transformational opportunities as well as building deeper partnerships with investors, customers, suppliers, and other external constituencies.”

Effective immediately, Catalent’s four Business Unit presidents will report to Maselli, it said. Maselli will also be responsible for overseeing the heads of global sales and marketing and global quality and regulatory affairs.

“I am honored to be given this opportunity,” Maselli said. “I am confident that we have everything we need to continue to win as we embark on this new chapter. We are expanding our global network, investing in growth-driving capabilities, and elevating our performance to help customers and patients around the world.”

Maselli joined Catalent in 2010 as director of operations at a plant in Italy. In 2013, he was named general manager of Zydis operations in Swindon, United Kingdom, and in 2015 he became vice president of operations, Europe, for Catalent’s Drug Delivery Solutions business unit.

Before Catalent, he held roles at Alstom, SGS and ABB.

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Logical Buildings closes $3.5M series C-1 offering

Logical Buildings, a Livingston-based software company, has completed a $3.5 million Series C-1 offering as it continues to invest in developing its SmartKit AI building energy management platform.

The company’s SmartKit AI product optimizes building performance and helps with property management decisions, it said.

“The SmartKit AI platform is increasing property valuations by providing our expanding user base of property owners with new sources of revenue, cost reduction, and improved work-flow management tools. Linking real-time data insights with actionable digital protocols to generate a net increase in NOI is a game-changing capability we provide our clients,” Jeff Hendler, CEO of Logical Buildings, said.

The new funding will also be used to expand partnerships and adopt new geographies.

“The opportunity for utilities is massive. As millions of residential and commercial consumers move to time-of-use energy rates made possible by smart meter deployment over the next few years, the need for engaging, consumer-friendly energy management platforms that incorporate non-utility, IoT data is greater than ever. At the same time, with a growing share of energy generation assets on U.S. grids being intermittent — including wind and solar — energy demand management is an increasingly crucial tool for utility operators to balance local distribution networks,” David Klatt,senior vice president of operations at Logical Building, said.

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Commvault announces Mirchandani, a leading IT executive, will replace retiring CEO Hammer

Tinton Falls-based software company Commvault announced Tuesday that Sanjay Mirchandani will take over as CEO and president, effective immediately.

Mirchandani is replacing the retiring CEO and president Bob Hammer, who led the company for more than two decades, growing the company into a global giant with a market cap of more than $3.1 billion.

The company also announced the appointment of Nick Adamo as chairman of the board, replacing Hammer who will remain on the board as chairman emeritus. These changes will become effective April 18.

Mirchandani was previously the CEO of Puppet, an Oregon-based IT automation company. At Puppet, he grew the user base of Puppet’s open source and commercial solutions to more than 40,000, including 75 percent of the Fortune 100.

Mirchandani has held senior leadership positions at VMware, EMC and Microsoft, and has significant expertise in the transformation of IT, the company said in a release.

And while Puppet is based in Oregon, Mirchandani does have a New Jersey connection. He graduated from Drew University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He was named to the school’s board of trustees in 2017.

Amato said all of these factors made Mirchandani the right choice for Commvault, a global leader in data backup and recovery.

“Sanjay’s accomplishments at Puppet demonstrate a deep understanding of multi-cloud and cloud native applications,” Adamo said in a statement. “We are confident he is the ideal person to build on Commvault’s current momentum and champion the rich heritage of combining innovation with unwavering focus on customer and partner success.”

Mirchandani said he is eager to get to work.

“Commvault’s partner-driven approach is closely aligned with my own,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to being an advocate for our customer, channel and partner ecosystems to deliver complete solutions.”

Mirchandani also brings a wealth of international business experience through his diverse, well-rounded background in technology having held senior global positions over his career. He also grew Puppet’s presence and partnerships across the globe and opened five new offices in Seattle, Singapore, Sydney, Timisoara and Tokyo.

Al Bunte, who has served alongside Hammer for more than two decades, is stepping down from his role as chief operating officer while maintaining his position as a member of the board of directors. Both Hammer and Bunte will remain with the company through a transitionary period, with Hammer stepping away from the transition effective March 31.

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Resorts Digital launches online sportsbook in N.J. just in time for Super Bowl

Resorts Digital Gaming has launched its online sportsbook in New Jersey, it announced Friday, just days before the Super Bowl.

“Ahead of what promises to be an enthralling ‘Big Game,’ and with March Madness just around the bend, there’s never been a better time to get in on the sports betting action,” Ed Andrewes, owner of EAGC, lead consultant to Resort Digital Gaming, said.

“We’ve designed a sportsbook platform that’s easy to use, comprehensive in terms of betting types, and ideal for those who are familiar with sports betting and those who are new to the game. To cap it all our casino players can bet straight from their existing accounts.”

Sports fans will be able to place online bets directly from their desktops or any mobile device through the company’s website, ResortsCasino.com, it said.

The platform is powered by SBTech, an online sportsbook offering a diverse selection of sports to bet on, including all four major sports leagues — NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB —  collegiate sports and other sporting events.

Betting options include pre-game and in-game odds, singles, combo bets, system bets, parlay boosters, teasers and more.

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Are retail online and MPOS applications secure? (Sponsored Content: Mazars)

According to the National Retail Foundation, retail has grown almost 4 percent annually since 2010. NRF expects retail sales in 2018 to increase at a minimum of 4.5 percent over 2017. Depending on who you read, current industrywide online sales make up between 9-11 percent of all retail sales. Past numbers support continual year-over-year growth of online sales that are estimated between 17-20 percent by 2021. According to Security Scorecard‘s “2018 Retail Cybersecurity Report,” online purchases during November and December 2017 reached nearly $700 billion, while data breaches also increased, with 50 percent of retailers experiencing a breach, up from 19 percent the prior year.

With the continued growth in online sales and mobile point-of-sale, or mPOS, application security concerns are highlighted. New privacy regulations can have severe fines, along with legal pursuit of damages by individuals. Recent studies further suggest that privacy is steadily becoming a significant factor in customer loyalty, all of which makes security and privacy a new priority for retail.

A retailer’s reputation and market share are becoming a high stakes digital game. According to a Harris Interactive and TRUSTe study, 89 percent of consumers won’t do business with companies that don’t protect them online. At the same time, Security Scorecard’s “2018 Retail Cybersecurity Report” has the retail industry as a bottom performer for application security, ranked 17 out of 18 industries studied.

The increased reliance on applications, paired with the decreased level of security, will lead to troubling times for retailers who do not change. Those retailers who make security a priority and promote privacy options for their customers will not only advance brand loyalty, they will take market share from competitors who don’t.

Retailers should consider taking a program approach, regardless of whether the platform(s) is on internal infrastructure, in the cloud, or a hybrid. The first step is to establish the rules, consider creating policies based on PCI, GDPR and an industry standard such as NIST or ISO2700x series. These rules/policies will drive the requirements of your information technology security and/or service provider to properly secure transactions and access to critical information.

To secure your critical applications, gain a business advantage and market share, consider the following application security and privacy areas related to mPOS and web applications:

  1. Securely develop your applications. There are several secure development approaches (PCI-Mobile Payment) and guidelines (OWASP) along with using some or all of privacy by design as the overarching framework.
  2. Develop an encryption strategy for all aspects of customer interaction; mPOS and web applications usage, transactions, storage of data and when sensitive information is accessed by authorized staff or the customer themselves.
  3. Be transparent with your customers and let them know you care about them and the importance of keeping their personal information private.
  4. In the privacy policy, provide an understandable explanation of why the information is needed and what the information will be used for. This should be supplied prior to a customer providing any personal information or creating an account.
  5. Don’t hold information hostage to a transaction, allow customers to supply information one time if they want. If you say they must create an account and/or give you consent to do something with the information outside of the transaction, it is not only illegal under a number of international laws, it is reducing customer loyalty.
  6. Secure your infrastructure that will be supporting your online and mPOS applications. Consider going to the cloud with eyes wide open, don’t assume you are secure just because you move to the cloud. Get outside help beyond the service provider to make sure you are operating at an appropriate risk level. Good consulting organizations will not only help you be secure, they should be able to help you reduce cost and increase productivity with a strategy to scale up and down, on demand.

Mazars wrote this article to provide some guidance and improve the overall retail industry. Feel free to reach out with feedback, questions or to gain further understanding on retail security and privacy.