Rutgers MBA Open House

SBIR Contracts Sustain Business

Get in Condition: Be a Desk Jock

Free Business Consulting

Women in Food Service

Tax Law Seminar

Venture Capital Panel at NJEN

TCNJ to Hold Business Classes

Free Tax Guide

Talking Books

Volunteer Conference

Corporate Angels

Apply Please

Corrections or additions?

This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the February 26, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

How to Get Your Story Out

Susan Young, principal in East Brunswick-based

Susan Young Media, says "countless businesses and non-profits

tell me that they are the `best kept secret.’ My immediate response

is that you don’t want to be a secret! It’s perfectly acceptable

and okay to flaunt and promote your organization, projects, staff,

clients and talents." A former newsperson herself, Young urges

clients to use print, radio and television news as the vehicle to

accomplish this. She says that getting ink can be the turning point

for a company or a non-profit. What’s more, the free publicity can

be had without draining a budget.

Young speaks on "How to Leverage the Media: The Nuts and Bolts

of News and Free Press" at a half-day event on Thursday, February

27, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Clark. Cost: $295. Register at www.sueyoungmedia.com

or call 732-613-4790.

Before starting up her agency, Young, a graduate of Quinnipiac University,

worked as a stringer for ABC News and for the Associated Press. She

also spent time as a radio anchor, a news director, and a member of

Christie Whitman’s office of radio and television. She says that knowing

how news decisions are made and what reporters are looking for when

covering stories are the keys to increasing an organization’s name

recognition, mission, membership, and profile.

She says the overriding question of any reporter or editor who receives

a press release is "`Why should I cover this; who cares?’" It

is essential to answer this question and to overcome objections. Newsrooms

receive dozens and dozens of faxes, E-mails and telephone calls every

day from people pitching "important" news and "great"

story ideas. It is up to reporters and editors to decide what is news. Remember

this each and every time in drafting a press release, she says, and

weed out the stories that may not be newsworthy. Think in terms of

how the story affects the general public.

Here are Young’s tips, tricks, and techniques for helping for leveraging

the decision makers in newsrooms.

Put the stapler away. Deliver your message with clarity.

When writing a press release or calling a reporter or newsroom to

pitch your story, you have to be able to express yourself with a

clear, concise, and targeted message. A press release should always

be one page (if it’s well written, this should not be a problem).

"As a former reporter and news director," she says, "the

cardinal sin in my book is a press release with a staple. Throw out

your stapler and fine-tune your writing. Each and every word and sentence

should be critical to your release. If your words don’t add anything

to your story, then they should not be included. Choose your words

carefully and creatively. Even the most complicated issue, legislation,

merger, grant or program can be articulated in one page.

Be a storyteller. News is about people. People love great

stories. Develop the art of personalizing, packaging, and framing

your story with the right elements. Print and T.V. need visuals and

action; radio needs a voice and audio. If you’re pitching a story

about a company expansion or a new program that your organization

has developed, find a person whose life has been touched by your news.

Arrange for the reporter to visit the program in action. Comments

from the boss or executive director of your agency may be good, but

reporters almost always prefer to speak to people who have actually

experienced something. The key here is the emotional and human angle

of your story, not the administrative or operational end of it.

Develop relationships with reporters. People tend to like

and appreciate others who are helpful, whether it’s on the job or

at home. We typically shovel the snow from a neighbor’s walk or drive

her child to school if we don’t have some kind of relationship with

the her. Reporters especially need and appreciate "help" because

they are often swamped with possible stories and related tasks. Make

it easy for them to say yes to your story. Leave nothing to chance

or assumption.

Ask, for example, how they prefer to receive copy and photos

— mail, fax, E-mail with attachment, text in E-mail window, or

some other way. Small details make a difference.

Pitching clear stories that are concise and have the necessary elements,

and helping reporters to get their job done, are key ways for you

to cultivate relationships with the media and get the "free press"

that businesses and non-profits need to survive. When you master this,

it’s a win-win.

Top Of Page
Rutgers MBA Open House

On Thursday, February 27, at 5:30 p.m., and again at

7 p.m., Rutgers holds open houses for its off-site MBA program at

the Westin Hotel in Princeton. Classes are held in Hopewell, and students

may earn up to 18 credits toward an MBA at that location. In addition,

Ph.D.s may receive 12 credits of elective course work and CPAs may

receive 3 credits for the core course in accounting.

Designed for area residents who are working full time, the program

has been holding classes in Hopewell since 1994. For more information

call 973-353-1697.

Top Of Page
SBIR Contracts Sustain Business

Private sector companies have buttoned up their purses,

especially where technology purchases are involved. The private sector

spending drought adds allure to government contracts. Yet, says tech

entrepreneur Abhay Joshi, securing those contracts is exponentially

more difficult than it was just a few years ago.

"It’s brutal out there, just brutal," says Joshi, not once,

but over and over again. His tone is full of empathy as he speaks

of all the "brilliant scientists and engineers who have been laid

off." The telecommunications and semiconductor sectors, in full

retreat, have shed tens of thousands of workers, and among them, he

says, are top-notch Ph.Ds, many of them patent holders with deep experience.

What are these tech stars doing now?

"Starting their own companies," says Joshi. And bidding on

SBIR contracts. The acronym stands for Small Business Innovation Research.

Handed out by many government agencies, the contracts not only provide

fledgling companies — and their experienced brethren — with

cash, but they also can lay the groundwork for the commercialization

that can lead to business with the private sector.

Joshi, founder of West Trenton-based Discovery Semiconductors, has

been winning SBIR contracts since 1993. He speaks on a panel addressing

"SBIR Phase II Proposal Preparation" on Friday, February 28,

at 7:30 a.m. Sponsored by the New Jersey Small Business Development

Center, the event takes place at the Princeton University Friend Center.

Other speakers include Gail Greenwood and Jim Greenwood

of the Greenwood Consulting Group, Randy Harmon of the New Jersey

Small Business Development Center, and Wayne Tamarelli of NJTC

Jumpstart. Cost: $90. Call 800-432-2832.

Joshi, who holds an MSEE from the New Jersey Institute of Technology,

worked at Epitaxx before it was purchased by J.D. Uniphase. There,

under the tutelage of Greg Olsen, who is now the president of Sensors

Unlimited, he learned how to write SBIR applications. He had always

wanted to go out on his own, and when he left Epitaxx in the summer

of 1993, the first thing he did was submit several applications for

SBIR contracts.

Even though he had experience with the process, he felt he had to

"close the missing links" in his knowledge. He did so by attending

workshops run by the New Jersey Commission of Science and Technology.

He also sought advice from Randy Harmon. "I took notes diligently,"

he recalls. "I followed them carefully."

He submitted three proposals — two to NASA and one to the National

Science Foundation. One, a project for NASA Goddard, was accepted.

"Discovery Semiconductor was launched," says Joshi.

SBIR Phase I contracts pay up to $100,000 and extend over six months.

They provide the funding through which a company can show proof of

concept for its technology. At the end of six months, the company

files a report and request a Phase II contract, which provides up

to $750,000 over two years. "It used to be that one in every eight

to ten Phase I applications were accepted," says Joshi. At the

Phase II level the ratio went down to one in two or three. But the

odds have grown longer.

"In 1993, we were just at the beginning of the tech boom,"

he says. "When I started my company, not too many people started

companies." High-quality competition has blossomed. A modest man,

Joshi says that if he were starting out now, he doesn’t think he would

win any SBIR contracts. "For one thing," he says, "I don’t

have a Ph.D." And this in a market suddenly flooded with downsized

Ph.D.s who believe, Joshi says, that they have little choice but to

try to start a company.

"It was different for me," says Joshi, whose company has grown

to 15 employees. "I was 28. I was scrappy. I had nothing to lose."

He says he had a contingency plan. "What was the worst that could

happen? If I failed I was going to go to California. I had lots of

friends who could get me a job." Silicon Valley was booming. There

were lots of choices. Now those options largely are gone, and Joshi

is glad he added government contracts to his private sector work,

much of it for telecommunications and defense companies.

Over the past 10 years he has won five Phase I and four Phase II contracts,

and has been able to commercialize the technology he developed under

those contracts. The government agency giving the contract retains

limited data rights and user rights, while the company owns the lion’s

share of rights to the technology, and is free to go on and commercialize

it.

While it is more difficult to win an SBIR contract now than it was

three years ago, there are steps entrepreneurs can take to up their

chances. Joshi’s advice includes:

Perfecting the technology. "This is the meat,"

he says. "What are you proposing? The technology you write has

to be top class." In addition, it has to be spelled out in a way

that is clear and compelling. "The reader has to say `that’s a

damn good idea!" exclaims Joshi.

Tech entrepreneurs lacking the writing skills to get make their technology

shine might seek some professional help in polishing up their proposals.

Adding gravitas. Technology proposals need to be backed

up by experience. The government agencies reviewing the applications

look for credentials and for experience. On one occasion, says Joshi,

"we worked with a rising star in material science at MIT."

Seeking a partner like this is a way for those without stellar education

credentials or a track record of success to win a contract. Joshi’s

company, having delivered on a number of contracts and sold technology

to the private sector, now has a solid track record. Entrepreneurs

who are just starting out might consider a partnering arrangement.

Showing potential. The government agencies participating

in the SBIR program are interested in obtaining technology for their

own use, but even more than that, says Joshi, they want to encourage

commercialization. Toward this end, they look for solid business and

marketing plans.

This is an area where many entrepreneurs, who often lack business

acumen, may need some outside help. It is important to be able to

point to potential customers and to lay out a plan for reaching them.

Joshi suggests that entrepreneurs submit more than one application

at a time, but that they don’t go overboard. Different agencies close

their contract cycles at different times, and similar proposals can

be submitted to different agencies. "You have to focus on a few,

and do them right," says Joshi. "You can’t have 20 proposals

of poor quality. Do three, four, or five in one cycle, and you may

click on one."

The SBIR contract process provides entrepreneurs with a second chance.

If an application is not accepted, the submitter can request a debriefing,

and the agency must honor the request. In the debriefing, the agency

tells the entrepreneur why his proposal wasn’t accepted. This, says

Joshi, provides an opportunity for improving the proposal and re-submitting

it.

Joshi is now married, to Sharon Joshi, who serves as CFO of

Discovery Semiconductor. The two met before the company was founded.

"There was no office romance," jokes Joshi. No longer a footloose

young hot shot with nothing to lose, he is also the father of two

children, ages four months and three years.

Times could be better, but Joshi’s company, founded on an SBIR contract,

is solid. He says he is glad he began competing for government research

contracts a decade ago, before others recognized how important the

government business could be to launching and sustaining a high-tech

company.

Top Of Page
Get in Condition: Be a Desk Jock

On a morning when snow drifts were keeping his

front office staff from work, Dr. Glen Lederman, an orthopedic chiropractor,

was juggling patients and phone duty. Nevertheless, he took a minute

to talk about the role good sitting plays in snow day preparedness.

"My big speech to patients is to prepare for something like this,"

says Lederman, who practices in Plainsboro. "You don’t condition

your muscles, you sweep some snow off the roof, and ouch!"

Lederman, a graduate of Tulane (Class of 1990) who did his chiropractic

training at Life University in Atlanta, deals with the sudden pain

brought on by, say, shoveling a 50-foot driveway, as well as the stresses

that accumulate little by little in the course of a work routine.

"Human beings are not designed to do the same thing over and over,"

he points out. The majority of his patients, however, are desk jockeys

who do just that. Included in the advice he gives them is the imperative

of setting up a workstation in such a way that it mitigates any long-term

damage from repetitive stress. He also advises a regimen of moving

around — at least a little — during the workday to give muscles

a fighting chance to stay fit enough to tackle the tasks associated

with the occasional blizzard.

Lederman gives his patients a booklet entitled Sitting Fit!, an excerpt

from the book Sitting on the Job by Scott Donkin (available by calling

800-552-6347). The booklet’s advice includes the following:

Elbows in. If you frequently use a keyboard, it is usually

better to keep your elbows close to your body and your wrists parallel

to the keyboard. By not bending forward, backward, inward, or outward,

you reduce the strain on the wrists and forearm muscles and ensure

better positioning of your upper arms, shoulders, and neck.

Look around. Reduce eye strain by frequently changing

your focus to an object far away or by closing your eyes. Your eyes

need frequent vision breaks to minimize strain.

Check your light. The chances for headaches are reduced

when proper posture and good lighting are in use. The elimination

of reflective glare is also helpful as is the proper arrangement of

work materials and equipment.

Save your neck. Neck pain can be reduced by adjusting

the work station to fit your body so that your head is not unnecessarily

tilted or rotated too far. Also periodic breaks to move and exercise

your neck, shoulders, arms, and upper back are essential to counteract

the effects of head tilting.

Relax your back. Reduce back pain by sitting in your chair

with your buttocks aimed at where the seat and back rest meet. Adjust

the chair’s seat pan height and back rest to fit the unique contours

of your back and hips, so that you can sit comfortably erect. Use

the back rest while working.

Fight fatigue. An answer to fatigue is exercise. Stretch

and move during your breaks and take several micro breaks during the

day.

Even a simple break helps. Try leaning back in your chair (after checking

its stability!) and stretching your arms up and your legs out. Wiggle

your fingers and toes. Close your eyes, smile, breathe in deeply and

out slowly. In the minute it takes to perform this micro break, you

released the lock of your visual and mental tasks, stretched away

the muscle tension built up in your buttocks, pelvis, and lower spine,

and refreshed your body with extra oxygen by expanding your rib cage.

You also improved your posture as well as the circulation of blood

through your legs and back to your heart.

Do it. Remember, you’re in training for the next blizzard, and

in the meantime are warding off painful repetitive stress injuries.

Top Of Page
Free Business Consulting

Professional business consultants working through the

Small Business Development Center of the College of New Jersey offer

confidential short and long-term business counseling. To help businesses

get the word out, they are prepared to address marketing strategies,

market plan development, market research and surveys, and strategic

planning. To get the money flowing, the consultants give advice on

business plan development and assessment, loan packages, and public

and private financing.

The consultants work with established business as well as start-ups.

For start-ups, they give advice on establishing trade name and legal

structure, completing federal and state tax registrations, site selection,

and feasiblity analysis. For all companies, the consultants provide

instruction in establishing record keeping systems, preparing financial

statements, and projecting cash flow. For further information call

609-989-5232.

Top Of Page
Women in Food Service

The New Jersey Restaurant Association hosts a lunch

and afternoon celebration to celebrate Women in Food Service on Monday,

March 3, 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Trenton. After a boxed lunch at

NJRA headquarters on 126 West State Street, those attending will meet

for a commemorative group photo with legislators, one-on-one meetings,

a session of the General Assembly, and either a tour of the State

House or a visit to the New Jersey State Museum. The day closes with

an authentic British afternoon tea catered by the Ship Inn Restaurant

& Brew Pub, featuring micro-brewed beer, and a Wine Tasting by Fedway

Associates.

The NJRA represents 21,000 food establishments that generate $450

million in taxes. The restaurant industry employs 200,000 people and

is the largest private sector employer in the state.

The event committee includes Betsy Alger owner of the Frog and

Peach in New Brunswick, Ann Hall of the Ship Inn in Milford,

Deborah Dowdell of the NJRA.

Women in all positions — from owners to sous chefs, general

managers to back of the house employees, will participate. They include

Patti Lombardo, purchasing agent of the company that owns the

Tigers Tale on Route 206, Gina Albanese, marketing director

of Panico’s in New Brunswick, Patricia Lytwenec, operations

director of Soho on George and Old Man Rafferty’s in New Brunswick,

and six women from the Frog and Peach: Virginia King, Marion Palumbo,

Gerry Kirchofer, Shannon Levine, Aime Aucott, and Jeanette Moreno.

Top Of Page
Tax Law Seminar

A free seminar on changes in New Jersey business tax

laws will be offered on Tuesday, March 4, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the

Hilton Garden Inn in Edison. Following a wine and cheese reception,

CPA Steven Mizrach, managing partner of the Iselin-based Distinctive

Group LLC, discuss how tax law changes will affect the operations

and bottom line of small to medium-sized businesses.

Sponsored by First Savings Bank, the seminar is free by pre-registration

through one of the participating chambers of commerce — Metuchen,

Woodbridge, East Brunswick, Old Bridge, and Perth Amboy. Call Mizrach’s

company, 732-283-9300, for more information.

Top Of Page
Venture Capital Panel at NJEN

Venture capitalists covering every stage of investment will speak

on a panel at the Wednesday, March 5 meeting of the New Jersey Entrepreneurial

Network. The meeting is noon to 3 p.m. at the Doral Forrestal. Cost:

$45. CAll 609-279-0010.

Companies that need early stage investment will want to meet Fred

Beste, a partner at the MidAtlantic Venture Fund. The fund is on

the "bleeding edge" of early stage investment and Beste brags

that — as a venture capitalist — he has never had to hold

down a real job.

Chris Sugden, a partner in Edison Ventures, will discuss investing

in companies in the "break out" stage. Edison Ventures takes

pride in the fact that it is one of the few New Jersey-based VC funders

that actually invests in New Jersey companies.

Jim Buck, a partner in TDH Ventures, will discuss later stage

venture investment. He will also cover potential investments from

"private equity."

Robert Frawley, president of NJEN, predicts that each panelist

will tell why investing at his stage is better for both entrepreneurs

and investors.

Top Of Page
TCNJ to Hold Business Classes

The College of New Jersey Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

has a full schedule of business classes for March. Some are free,

some require a fee. Call 609-989-5232.

On Monday, March 3, at 6:30 p.m. in the Westergaard branch of the

Piscataway Public Library, Martin Mosho teaches "How to

Start Your Own Successful Business." Mosho’s business is called

New Jersey Biz Wiz, and this workshop is free. He repeats that class

on Thursday, March 6, at 7 p.m. at the East Brunswick Public Library,

and on Saturday, March 8, at the Trenton Public Library. Mosho brings

the free workshop to the Plainsboro Public Library on Tuesday, March

18, at 7 p.m., and to the Princeton Public Library on Wednesday, March

19.

As for paid sessions, Mosho teaches one called "Are You an Entrepreneur?"

on Wednesday, March 5, at 6 p.m. at the College of New Jersey. Cost:

$45.

Michael Sleppin, of Paradigm Associates, speaks on "Sales,

Sales, Sales = Money, Money, Money" on Wednesday, March 5, at

1 p.m. at the College of New Jersey. Cost: $45.00

Cliff Radziewcz of RadComm Inc. will discuss marketing and

sales on Monday, March 10, at 6 p.m. at the College of New Jersey.

Cost: $85. A dozen more workshops are set for March.

The SBDC is also partnering with the Greater Mercer County Chamber

of Commerce and the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce for a series

called "The CEO Tool Box," to be held on the fourth Tuesdays

of each month at 8 a.m. at Panera Bread Bakery and Cafe, Nassau. Cost:

$20 per session. Call 609-989-5232.

Rocky Romeo, of Rocky Romeo LLC, will speak on March 25 on how

companies can leverage existing accounts to maximize their networks.

His title: "Connecting Right to Compound Your Success." On

April 22 Blaine Greenfield, of Blaine Greenfield Associates,

will discuss targeting new markets with "Looking For Markets

in All the Wrong Places." Sales booster Michael Sleppin,

of Paradigm Associates, will help refine sales technique on May 27

with "Recharging Your Sales Tactics," while Radziewicz brings

home the money on June 24 with "Building Your Access to Other

People’s Capital."

Top Of Page
Free Tax Guide

The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants offers a free

online tax guide at www.njscpa.org/finances/taxguide.cfm, complete

with tax rates, answers to tax questions, and tax forms that can be downloaded.

The site also links to the Internal Revenue and New Jersey Division

of Taxation.

The same organization also offers a free "Find a CPA" service,

so you can look for a tax advisor based on firm size, location, and

other criteria — including languages spoken. CPAs are available

who speak Japanese, Hindi, Hebrew, and Portugese, for instance. Go

to www.findacpa.org.

Free assistance may be available to those who have recently been through

some sort of family tragedy. This service was set up after September

11, but the volunteers decided to make it an ongoing program. Varied

circumstances can qualify a family for assistance. Call 973-226-4494

or go to the website to request help.

Top Of Page
Talking Books

The New Jersey Library for the Blind and Handicapped will introduce

"Internet Streaming for Audiovision" at a celebration on Monday,

March 3, at 2 p.m., at 2300 Stuyvesant Avenue, Ewing. The new radio

information service for the blind provides detailed access to state

and local news for those people with a print disability. New Jersey

Network has significantly helped to introduce this service.

Also to be celebrated are the kick off for the "Take a Talking

Book" campaign, for senior adults who can no longer see to read,

or who are physically unable to hold a book. The day will also note

the anniversary of the Pratt-Smoot Act, passed in 1931. This legislation

established free library services for the blind nationwide and set

up the Talking Book program. A proclamation from the governor will

be read. For information call 609-530-3242 or write CN 501, Trenton

08625-0501.

Top Of Page
Volunteer Conference

This year’s New Jersey Conference on Volunteerism will focus on disaster

preparedness and response. Entitled "Let’s Roll," it is set

for Friday and Saturday, April 4 and 5, at the Atlantic City Convention

Center. The Governor’s Volunteer Awards will be given on Saturday.

For information call 800-286-6528 or go to www.njvolunteerism.com

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

The $10 million Conference Center at Mercer, on the West Windsor

campus of Mercer County Community College, is now open. During the

facility’s February 20 ribbon cutting ceremony, one of its meeting

rooms was dedicated to Merrill Lynch because of the financial

services company’s generosity to the school.

The atrium is named for Yardville National Bank , another

donor, while a third room honors long-time supporter Jamily Faridy

of Faridy Veisz Fraytak Architects.

The conference center, which already has bookings for over 200 conferences,

meetings, and training sessions, offers webcasting, satellite teleconferencing,

and global videoconferencing. Its tiered auditorium seats 219 people

and is equipped with individual laptop ports.

United Van Lines has donated 40,705 decks of cards, 1,500

magazines, and 50 paperback books as part of project "Enduring

Freedom."

The purpose of the donation is the support of America’s military personnel

serving away from home.

News for the Vision Impaired. Broadcasts of print news

are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to all New Jersey residents

eligible for the services provided by the New Jersey Library for the

Blind and Handicapped.

Newspaper excerpts and special interest programs are broadcast over

closed-circuit radio through the efforts of 85 volunteers. Publications

included in the program include the New York Times, the Times of Trenton,

and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

For more information call 800-792-8322.

The Mercadien Group and the College of New Jersey are set to

sponsor the third annual Nonprofit Management Certificate, which is

supported by a grant from Merrill Lynch Community Development Company.

The program begins on Wednesday, March 26 and runs every Wednesday

from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for 10 weeks at the College of New Jersey.

The enrollment fee for the program is $1,000 and scholarships will

be awarded to community development qualified organizations.

Those are organizations which provide affordable housing or community

services for low or moderate income individuals.

They also undertake activities that revitalize or stabilize low or

moderate income geographies, or promote economic development by financing

businesses or farms that meet the size eligibility standards of the

Small Business Administration’s Development Company or Small Business

Investment Company programs or have gross annual revenues of $1 million

or less.

Applications must be received by Friday, March 7, and should be sent

to Rajib Sanyal of the College of New Jersey at 609-771-3050.

Top Of Page
Apply Please

The Somerset County Business Partnership has announced

that nominations are being accepted for the 53rd Annual Outstanding

Citizen of the Year and the 8th Annual Quality of Life Awards.

The awards are given for exemplary volunteer efforts demonstrating

creativity, vision, leadership, and citizenship by providing service

to programs and activities that positively affect the welfare of the

community.

The former award is bestowed up an individual and the latter award

on an organization.

Among the criteria for the award are: service should have affected

the welfare of the community; individuals should be cited for activities

outside normal employment responsibilities; activities should have

been performed during the past year, but may be cumulative from prior

years.

Nominees do not have to be Somerset County Business Partnership members

or investors; previous recipients are eligible for activities other

than those for which the prior award was given.

Nominations may be completed online at www.SomersetBusinessPartneship.com

or may be obtained by calling 908-725-1552. The deadline for nominations

is Friday, February 28.


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