Helping Self Helpers

Corporate Angels: Children At Work

Corrections or additions?

Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on April 26, 2000. All rights reserved.

Bureaucrat to Start-Up: Jay Brandinger, CEO


A crucial funding gap imperils start-up companies in

New Jersey, says Jay Brandinger. "The gap is between a company

in the startup phase and the time when it can get private sector funding,

and that gap is increasing," he says. "If the companies can’t

get to the point where the VCs will look at them, what are they to


Brandinger has seen this problem from both sides. He used to be on

the inside of state government, as chairman of the New Jersey Commission

on Science and Technology (, but now he is CEO of a start-up,

Westar Photonics ( For the Princeton Chamber he speaks on "Nurturing

Small Business" on Thursday, May 4, at 11:30 a.m. at the Doral

Forrestal. Also that day the eighth annual Entrepreneur of the Year

will be presented. Cost: $30. Call 609-520-1776 (

Brandinger served in the Army before graduating in 1951 from Cooper

Union and had a 40-year career with RCA, including being vice president

and general manager of the videodisk division and being on the transition

team when David Sarnoff Research Center was sold to GE. He left NJCST

to head Westar Photonics on Deer Park Drive at Princeton Corporate

Plaza (

Brandinger will tell what it’s like to be on the other side of the

fence — the way different organizations deal with high tech start

up companies, what it’s like to try to get funding, where the sources

are, and where they aren’t, and what surprises he found when he left

the state to start a start-up.

One surprise was how hard it is to convince potential funders of the

value of the technology. Another was how intractable large companies

are in their willingness to take risk to support start-ups.

What was no surprise to him, though it may seem strange to others,

is the differences between the way different parts of North America

look at the same subject. Venture capitalists on the East Coast tend

to be more like cautious bankers, he says, whereas on the West Coast

they are more like chance-taking entrepreneurs. This has unfortunate

consequences: "Back here in the East we tend to be rather conservative

in the VC business, with the result that companies face the valley

of despair to continue their development."

As for Canada: "We find that our neighbor to the north is quite

hungry for high tech companies," says Brandinger, "both at

the national and provincial levels, in the public and private sectors.

The governments provide funds and treat the companies in a holistic

fashion, examining all the questions — infrastructure, housing,

availability of technical resources at institutes and universities

— and including those in the package. In Canada, the government

can become a partner with the venture capitalist."

"The competition is really quite stiff," says Brandinger.

"It should be no surprise to anybody that the private sector has

to take the burden of developing the companies, through angel, venture

capital, and large company networks, but the state itself can with

a minimum amount of money help to change the risk factors that make

our venture people conservative and help expand their support of companies

in a start up phase."

Don’t count on angel investors to make up the funding gap, he warns.

He puts angel investors in two categories: the hobby shop people who

have fun playing around in the company but may not be investing much

money, and the real business angel, who has many of the same criteria

as the VC. "It is a misnomer to think that an angel is willing

to go in earlier than seed stage venture capitalists," says Brandinger.

Brandinger can point to some programs he helped the state develop

for entrepreneurs:

Early Stage Enterprises (ESE), a venture capital firm

located on Route 518 that invests in seed and early stage companies

( Through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority,

the state contributed 10 percent of ESE’s total funding, and ESE has

made some significant investments in New Jersey-based companies (

The incubator program that provides space for young companies

at an inexpensive rent and also some supervision. Brandinger says

he pushed for an academic study on the expansion of the incubator

program from Rutgers Bloustein School. This study painted a rosy picture,

and now incubator funds have been dramatically increased.

Technology Center of New Jersey, an EDA real estate project

that can accommodate businesses that have outgrown incubators.

Technology Transfer and Commercialization Program from

the NJCST. Now it is a subordinated loan program. Young companies

can get as much as $250,000 from the state and pay it back to the


The "pool concept" was the principal on which the Economic

Development Authority was created ( It started out

with a nest egg, has invested that money and been repaid, and is now

financially independent from state government.

Previous versions of the technology transfer program involved

actual grants, not loans, and linkages with academic institutions.

The young companies could take the state money and spend it for research

support at, for instance, Rutgers or NJIT. Now the money is not restricted

in use but it must be paid back to the "pool."

This is good, says Brandinger. "A company in the development stages

ought to learn how to operate a business. Either you are in business

or you are not. If you are only in business to get grant money, you

are not in business. You ought to be responsible enough to repay the

state for what you are helped to do."

"Now the shoe is on the foot, and I am saying the same thing,

but the program runs only one year," says Brandinger. "I had

strongly urged that the program be modified, with time, to support

the companies over a longer period. That was generally conceded but

it hasn’t happened yet."

— Barbara Fox

Top Of Page
Helping Self Helpers

Your friend’s mother has just been diagnosed with a

terminal illness and is distraught. Or you are a human resources professional

and an employee is in your office, in tears, over having come down

with a rare disorder called Aarskog. Maybe you know where to turn

for help, and maybe you don’t. The New Jersey Self-Help Clearinghouse,

though, probably has some answers.

This 20-year-old organization has contact information for more than

4,000 self-help groups on issues ranging from mental health, abuse,

and addiction, to bereavement, parenting, and disabilities. "We

run a unique non-profit service," says Edward J. Madara,

founder and director, "helping New Jerseyans find and form self-help

support groups for a wide range of stressful life problems. Often

these groups meet at hotels and conference centers along Route 1 for

their conferences. Hundreds of these groups hold weekly meetings in

church basements and at hospital or community facilities in nearby


One of the most recent groups is E.L.A.S.T.I.C. for those who suffer

from an allergy to the latex found in medical safety gloves and balloons.

The organization also helps people form new self-help groups, offering

workshops and an annual conference.

Manuals are available for starting groups on caregivers for the aged,

menopause, retirement transition, unemployment, car accident recovery,

living with depression/manic depression, and fibromyalgia and Chronic

Myofacial Pain Syndrome. A one-page hand-out on establishing a new

group is free with a self-addressed stamped envelope to NJ Self-Help

Clearinghouse, Saint Clare’s Health Services, 25 Pocono Road, Denville

07834-2995, or call 800-867-6274 or 973-625-9565.

The clearinghouse’s website at has basic information

but the live links are limited to mental health resources. All the

other information will be available by phone or by buying the $25

Self-Help Group Directory.

"You be the judge" is the clearinghouse’s motto. It does not

rate or evaluate individual groups nor does it endorse a group. "Self-help

means more control — and more responsibility — in your hands,"

says Madara.

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels: Children At Work

The "Take Your Daughter to Work" idea takes

a new spin for the ninth annual Camp Hyatt Career Day on Tuesday,

May 2, at 9 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency. A front clerk at a hotel

desk or perhaps a pastry chef at a bakery? These are two of the jobs

fifth graders at the Chapin School can choose from. Students will

get to dress up in hotel uniforms, don aprons, and try on a career,

working side-by-side with professionals.

The program, sponsored by Hyatt, aims to give kids a head start in

the job market. More than 10,000 students in the U.S., Canada, and

the Caribbean have participated. Call 609-987-1832.

Community Options Inc., is partnering with,

the first Internet venture to turn over online shopping profits to

charitable groups. In three years the site ( has donated

$620,000 to thousands of organizations. Members of the site can take

income tax deductions for the part of their purchase that is donated.

Community Options, based on Farber Road, offers employment services

and appropriate housing for more than 1,000 people in 11 locations

( Yardville National Bank‘s vice president of

commercial mortgage lending, Jim Brotherton, has joined the

Business Advisory Council of Community Options.

The Fred C. Rummel Foundation has given $15,000 to the capital

campaign of the Rescue Mission of Trenton. The campaign aims

to renovate the 77,000 square foot Cracker Factory building that houses

the mission’s store, administrative offices, maintenance shops, and


Alan Brooks Design at 20 Nassau Street recently raised

$1,400 for the Mid-Jersey Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis

Society during the April 9 MS Walk (

Previous Story Next Story

Corrections or additions?

This page is published by

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facebook Comments