After Encouragement from Murphy, Startups Meet Investors at November EDA Founders & Funders Event
Written by Esther Surden, New Jersey Tech Weekly
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.
InquisitHealth (Ashwin Patel)
InquisitHealth (River Edge) is a tech-enabled public health company that uses peer-to-peer mentoring to help patients who are struggling with chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma, pre-diabetes, hypertension and sickle cell anemia. “Our mentors are patients who are successfully managing those chronic conditions,” said Ashwin Patel, founder and chief medical officer.
InquisitHealth’s technology platform is called “Mentor1to1,” which the company website describes as the only fully scalable ‒ and fully managed ‒ peer mentoring solution.
“We train mentors to be able to help other patients,” Patel said. “This is something that has been studied extensively and validated in academia. What we’ve done is deliver a one-on-one personalized intervention to each patient based on what they are specifically struggling with. We help with filling in knowledge gaps and taking that knowledge and converting it into action. In the process, we uncover the social and behavioral determinants of health that the mentors are able to understand and appreciate, and share that insight with the individuals.” InquisitHealth gives mentors the tools to address these issues with the patients.
When asked about his talks with investors, Patel said, “We had many quick meetings that we believe would have taken us many months to set up if we had to do it on our own. This was a rapid-fire opportunity for us to develop that initial relationship with these funders that could become a bigger, broader relationship in time.”
The investors asked a lot of great questions, Patel said. He noted that some of the investors asked for follow-up information and slide decks, and offered to connect them with their limited partners, which tended to be health systems or health plans.
“The first time you meet someone, you don’t want to be asking for a check,” he said. “You want to build a relationship. This is helping us develop that relationship.” Patel added that these meetings provided him with insights into what funders are looking for.