All of the 22 participating startups had been pre-vetted by officials from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) and then matched with appropriate investors. Some 15 investors participated in the event. They came from areas nearby, including New York, Pennsylvania and, of course, New Jersey.
Technology and life-science companies discussed strategies, business models and funding opportunities with potential investors. The event supports companies at their earliest stages and highlights the collaborative nature of the Garden State’s innovation ecosystem.
Before the one-on-one sessions, startups and investors alike received some words of encouragement, as well as an overview of the New Jersey innovation ecosystem, from Governor Phil Murphy. During his remarks, Murphy also discussed the $500 million Innovation Evergreen Fund, which he had proposed in his economic address.
Next, Kathleen Coviello, vice president, technology & life sciences investments at the EDA, went over the programs offered by the state that are designed to help invigorate the startup ecosystem. Information about all of these programs is available on the EDA website.
NJTechWeekly.com was able to connect with a number of startups at the event. [See our first story on this topic here, and our second story here.] We asked them about their fledgling businesses and how their meetings with investors had gone.
Good Harvest Company (Eric Meth and Venu Moola)
Good Harvest Company. (Lawrenceville) is a data management platform designed to allow brand marketers to effectively reach cannabis consumers by taking into account their buying and shopping behaviors, founder and CEO Eric Meth told us. There really isn’t a solid intelligent data layer out there with information on how brands can market cannabis, he noted.
“We are in our final stages of launching our minimum viable product. We are working with cannabis retailers in adult use markets that allow for sales.”Seven states that have cannabis retail locations within those states.”
Good Harvest Co. runs tags or pixels on the retailer’s websites. Some of the sites are ecommerce-enabled and others just allow consumers to browse their products. “We are starting with tagging those sites so we can track how consumers shop” and understand what kinds of products cannabis consumers are shopping for. “We can create audience segments for brands to focus on those different types of specific cannabis shoppers.” Cannabis brands are not the only brands that want to know this information, he pointed out. This could be interesting to fast food companies or snack food makers, for example.
While digital advertising for cannabis is allowed in the U.S., the channels are limited. Good Harvest will improve its’ efficiency by targeting specific consumers based on location and audience segments curated from live cannabis shopper data, he said.. Most mainstream publishers are sitting on the sidelines, rather than jumping into this category, but when they are ready, Good Harvest will be ready too, Meth stated. The company will also ensure that the consumers are 21 plus by confirming IDs via the retailer’s platforms, allowing them to meet the compliance factor.
Meth, and CTO Venu Moola, had 10 meetings with investors, Meth told us. Of the investors they met, three were already directly investing in the cannabis space. “Out of these, we’ve scheduled two follow-up meetings; and the rest, who don’t directly invest in this space right now, are very interested in it and are keeping an eye on it.” The two had some good discussions and received advice about things to look for and what to do and not to do while raising money. “It was excellent from a connections standpoint. Even though some investors were looking at the cannabis space, depending on their thesis and how they like to invest, some were not getting in so early.” However, they wanted Meth to maintain contact with them and to provide them with updates as the company reaches its milestones.