Wireless Moves: DotCom DotGone

Wireless Start-Up: Aereon Solutions

Another Wireless Startup: Tellshare

Hardware For Wireless

Crosstown Moves

Deaths

Leaving Town

OUT Expansion: Sycamore Ventures

Corrections or additions?

This article was prepared for the January 23, 2002 edition of U.S.

1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Life in the Fast Lane

Top Of Page
Wireless Moves: DotCom DotGone

If Broadbeam is making record progress in the B-to-B

side of the wireless revolution, the consumer side of wireless is

coming along much more slowly. Another central New Jersey firm,

GeePs.com,

was going to be the next great thing for the wireless consumer. Using

the global positioning system, it was supposed to be a way to flash

neighborhood-specific information (and advertising) to people with

Palm Pilots.

Geeps.com had a total of $7 million in funding, mostly from Great

Britain and Europe, where wireless usage is much more pervasive than

it is here. But because consumer use of wireless in this country is

progressing much slower than predicted, the company has gone into

"hibernation mode," says Aezaz Hussain.

He chose those words carefully. Hussain is CEO of Visionnet Systems,

which has a stake in Geeps. "The investors still own the

intellectual

property," he says. "If the wireless revolution happens later,

maybe we will come back to it."

"It will take two or three years, maybe even longer for those

kinds of technologies to mature in the U.S.," says Arshad Masood,

former president of Geeps.com (See article below on Masood’s new

company, Aereon Solutions). Andy Goren, former CEO of Geeps.com, has

moved to San Francisco.

GeePS.com, 3 Cedar Brook Drive, Cranbury.

Top Of Page
Wireless Start-Up: Aereon Solutions

Arshad Masood left two companies — Visionet Systems

and a dotcom wireless marketing firm, Geeps.com — to head a new

company in the wireless field. Aereon Solutions has offices at

Princeton

Forrestal Village in HQ and should not be confused with the aviation

firm, Aereon Corporation, at 20 Nassau Street.

A new team of six employees are "self-funding" Aereon

Solutions,

meaning that they are not getting paid until the money starts coming

in. "We are aggressively looking for clients and working on the

first software piece to be completed in the first quarter," says

Masood. The other key partner here is COO/CFO Nigel Gardner, who is

experienced with start-ups.

Aereon Solutions has a vertical market: to bring wireless automation

to small and medium-sized contracting firms. Wireless devices can

eliminate telephone calls and double entry paperwork. "They can

access the customer history, do the work, leave the bill, and move

right on to the next stop," says Masood.

"We are doing something tangible for the customer, versus

marketing

which is not really necessary," says Masood, explaining why his

new firm has a brighter future than GeePS.com "If you can’t serve

a customer today with some tangible ROI (return on investment), it

is impossible to survive."

"Only three or four companies are in our vertical market,"

says Masood. Several of these companies are in start-up mode and a

major competitor on the west coast is FieldCentrix. "We are

building

our IP to show our future clients and then we will go out and partner

with larger firms," he says.

Masood has the patience to build a company from scratch. He earned

an undergraduate degree in engineering in Pakistan, has a MS in

computer

science from the University of Guelph in Canada, and an MBA from

Baruch

College in New York. He worked at IBM as a sales manager for several

years before starting Visionet Systems in 1989. It took him six or

seven years to grow Visionet from a one-person self-funded company,

into a viable business, and he moved out of a home office in 1996

(U.S. 1, November 29, 2000).

Now Visionet Systems, an IT consulting company for the apparel and

mortgage industries, has 30 people at Cedar Brook Drive. Its clients

include Liz Claiborn, Maidenform, Timberland, and Countrywide Home

Loan (www.visionetsystems.com).

Initially Masood’s new company, Aereon, will target HVAC companies

with about 15 trucks. "Bigger companies can automate by

themselves,

but we are packaging the solution for the smaller ones and making

it painless for them. We believe we can make a 20 to 30 percent

savings."

Aereon Solutions, 116 Village Boulevard, Suite

201, Princeton Forrestal Village, Princeton 08540. Arshad Masood.

609-524-4030; fax, 609-524-4031.

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Another Wireless Startup: Tellshare

Text messaging that’s fast, fun, and free — that’s

the business model of Tellshare, a wireless messaging provider that

wants to tap the youth market. Despite the uneven record of wireless

advertising firms such as Geeps.com (see previous story), Tellshare

thinks it can create an audience for opt-in, permission-based

promotional

materials, and it pins its hopes on a market of 15 million

undergraduate

students.

"Teenagers and college students register with us for free,"

says Jay H. Paszamant, the president of the five-person firm that

recently moved from 1,400 square feet in North Brunswick to a similar

space in Research Park. "They enter their cell phone number and

carrier and get the newest gizmos. No matter what carrier they have

or what device they use, if they have messaging capability they can

use our service for free."

Marketers and advertisers catering to this youth market will offer

deals, promotions, coupons, contests, and sweepstakes, all

"permission-based,"

meaning that the users don’t receive anything if they don’t want to.

"It is another way for us to create a value added service,"

says Paszamant.

What kind of deals might these be? Time-sensitive offers are

especially

potent. Say you are producing a concert or a sporting event in Trenton

and, two days before the event, you have bales of unsold tickets.

You could "paper the house," the insider’s lingo for calling

up charities and offering the tickets for free. Or you could beam

your ad for half-priced seats to Tellshare users in Central Jersey.

"We are trying to help those venues fill the seats and generate

additional revenue," says Paszamant. An in-house copywriter and

designer can help produce the ads. "We offer value added service.

We are approaching the advertising industry to use our services as

an additional channel for their clients."

Tellshare’s goal is to be a complete solution provider for wireless

technology, such as www.upoc.com and www.planethopper.com

"We want to be the wireless portal to take us to the generation

Y market," he says, "the third generation networking to the

United States. We want to be involved in multimedia messaging and

gaming, to be on the ground floor when the third generation comes

out."

Paszamant aims to avoid the pitfalls experienced by Geeps.com because

his is a regional service that targets college campuses. "We are

in a pilot test in all the four-year colleges in New Jersey. We have

a marketing campaign with postering throughout the campuses. It seems

to be the most effective way."

Those with cell phones or pagers sign up for the service and then

get all the messages, whether they want to or not. They respond by

calling a toll-free number to talk to the application directly, or

they can use wireless application protocol (WAP). Those with web-based

Palm Pilots can choose to get a particular message. So can those

responding

from their laptop or desktop PCs.

Paszamant is particularly enthusiastic about the market for winter

tourism. "Skiers can sign up to get snow reports. Sometimes they

are traveling and don’t have their computers with them. Now they don’t

have to dial a number and pay minutes. We are talking about a

generation

that doesn’t want to spend money."

A resident of Skillman, Paszamant and his wife, a professional

fundraiser,

have two school-aged children. His Hungarian grandfather founded Monte

Carlo Wines in New Brunswick, and the successor was the Monarch Wine

Company. Paszamant went to the University of Miami, Class of 1984,

and worked in the financial markets before joining the family

business,

doing marketing. "I stayed with them until I started my own

business."

Tellshare started out as a web application development firm, Digi

Technologies. It bolsters its cash flow by providing messaging

services

to other companies’ websites, so potential customers can sign up to

get "alerts." The firm’s accountant is Carl Gensib of North

Brunswick, and it is looking for angel investors. "We are not

in the VC stage yet," says Paszamant. If Tellshare’s idea is so

good, why isn’t everyone doing it? "It is too new," is the

familiar refrain. "Everybody is sitting back waiting for others

to start."

Tellshare, 22 Wall Street, Princeton 08540. Jay

H. Paszamant, president. 609-924-4224; fax, 609-924-4465. Home

page: www.tellshare.com

— Barbara Fox

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Hardware For Wireless

Lamina Ceramics, a Sarnoff company that works on high

performance ceramic printed circuit boards for optical and wireless

packaging, has landed $12 million in venture capital financing from

Morgenthaler Venture Partners. Actually, this money came through last

August, but the company waited to make the official announcement of

this funding until last week.

Its contact at the Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm is Greg

E. Blonder, a former Bell Labs inventor who is also the VC contact

for Princeton Lightwave, a Sarnoff spinoff that moved to Route 130.

Bob Pavet is also a Morgenthaler partner who is on the Lamina board.

Lamina Ceramics was founded in April, 2001, and plans to move from

Sarnoff’s building soon, says Taylor Adair, president and CEO (U.S.

1, October 10, 2001).

"The name of the technology we are commercializing is low

temperature

co-fired ceramic on metal," says Adair. "The advantage to

metal, is that it constrains the shrinkage of the ceramic when it

is fired, provides a thermal heat sink, and increases the flexural

strength of the ceramic." Such strength helps to eliminate

breakage

when manufacturing large packages or boards.

Potential clients are manufacturers that need a high speed backplane

(a circuit board that links other circuit boards). "Nobody we

are aware of has commercialized this technology," says Adair.

Lamina Ceramics, 201 Washington Road, Princeton

08540. Taylor Adair, CEO. 609-720-4949. Www.laminaceramics.com

Top Of Page
Crosstown Moves

BCA & Associates Inc., 103 Carnegie Center, Suite

309, Princeton 08540. Joyce Morrison, controller. 609-452-0889; fax,

609-243-9602.

Tom Colitsas, an accountant and financial planner who emphasizes

franchising,

has six restaurants of his own, and the company that runs them (BCA

& Associates) will be moving into the suite next door to Colitsas

in the fall. In the meantime, the two firms have temporarily

consolidated

and are working out of the same space.

One of the six restaurants is Steak Escape in Quakerbridge Mall.

deSaules Placements, 100 Overlook Center, Second

Floor, Princeton 08540. Pat deSaules, owner. 609-520-0700; fax,

609-520-0866.

Pat deSaules has moved from Alexander Park, at 791 Alexander Road,

to 100 Overlook. Similarly, she has moved her firm’s focus from

personnel

placement to executive search and consulting.

Top Of Page
Deaths

James P. Harrah, 76, on January 17. He founded Harrah

and Associates on Nottingham Way, and his son, Scott, is now president

of the business insurance agency.

Top Of Page
Leaving Town

Futurestep, 103 Carnegie Center, Suite 307,

Princeton

08540. Alan George. 609-716-7616; fax, 609-716-7206. Home page:

www.futurestep.com

This office of the executive recruiting firm, a project of Korn/Ferry

International and the Wall Street Journal, has closed. The business

plucks recruits off the Web. It targets only middle-market management

and doesn’t rigorously assess each candidate, as is the standard at

Korn/Ferry.

A company representative at headquarters in Sherman Oaks, California,

says the nearest office is now in New York City.

cktk Lisa is his daughter in law.

Top Of Page
OUT Expansion: Sycamore Ventures

Sycamore Ventures, 845 Alexander Road, U.S. Trust

Building, Princeton 08540. Peter Gerry, managing director.

609-759-8888;

fax, 609-759-8900. Home page: www.sycamorevc.com

A five-year-old venture capital firm, Sycamore Ventures, just acquired

a Princeton address. The 13-person office moved from 4,700 square

feet at 989 Lenox Drive to 5,700 feet on the first floor of the U.S.

Trust Building at 845 Alexander Road on Friday, January 11 and has

a new phone and fax.

Among the firm’s three founding partners is a man with impeccable

political connections, John Whitman, husband of the former governor,

Christine Todd Whitman. Peter Gerry and Kilin To are also managing

partners. They have have invested in more than 100 companies and have

taken 20 companies public. They have sold or merged 40 companies,

and they have offices in San Francisco and Asia.

Sycamore Ventures, the only tenant of U.S. Trust, has a five year

lease with a renewal option. Bob Sobel of the Acclaim Group

represented

the tenant and Buzz Woodworth of Keller Dodds & Woodworth the

landlord.

Architect Joel David Zieden designed the interior to have 14 perimeter

offices, a large interior conference room, and a large file room,

and two secretarial areas. Michael Riesz and Co. of Fords, New Jersey,

was the general contractor.

Except for the new office’s proximity to the train station, Princeton

not a particularly convenient location for the Whitmans who live in

North Jersey. "We looked for an office further north, but there

really are not a lot of class A buildings along the 206 corridor that

would be convenient for everyone," says David Lichtenstein, the

chief financial officer who planned the move.

With $450 million under management, the firm focuses on second stage

through IPO companies in the areas of information technology and

biotechnology.

Its active funds are Sycamore Venture Capital, an SBIC fund started

in November 1999 that has $51 million in private capital. As a Small

Business Investment Corporation, it gets federal funds matched two

for one, so the fund can be $153 million. The Asia Star IT fund,

started

in May, 2000, has $165 million. Earlier funds are fully invested and

are in "harvest mode."

An Edison-based consumer products company with brands such as

"Carpet

Fresh", "X-14," and "2000 Flushes," was acquired

by WD-40 Company last April.

One of Sycamore’s first computer investments was Taiwan-based Acer

Group, now the sixth largest PC manufacturer in the world. Other

computer

companies are ASUSTeK Computer, the largest global PC system board

manufacturer; ACM Research Corporation (a semiconductor equipment

manufacturing company for polishing and plating in copper

interconnect,

headquartered in northern California), and three more Taiwan-based

companies.

In the telecommunications and networking industries, Sycamore has

invested in companies based in Texas, Florida, California, India,

Tokyo, and Jedai Broadband Networks in Red Bank.

Among Sycamore’s other companies in New Jersey are two dotcoms.

Edison-based

Easylink (www.easylink.com) provides business messaging services and

went public in June, 1999. RxHope.com, in Hackettstown, is a website

where doctors can request free medication for their indigent patients.

In 1998 these VCs invested in Juno Online Services, helped it go

public,

and sold its position. Juno recently agreed to merge with NetZero,

and the resulting firm (United Online) may be the second largest

Internet

access provider in the US. Other dotcom companies are in Canada and

Shanghai.

Software, healthcare and biotechnology, media and broadcasting, and

financial services are among the other investment areas.

Whitman went to Yale, Class of 1966, and has a Harvard Business School

MBA. He has had several positions at Citicorp and was an advisor to

such firms as the Ford Motor Company, AT&T Venture Corp., the

Hungarian-American

Enterprise Fund, British and Commonwealth Holdings PLC, Coopers &

Lybrand, the United States Agency for International Development

(U.S.A.I.D.),

and Prudential Securities Inc. From 1987 to 1990 he was CEO of

Prudential-Bache

Interfunding Inc., a merchant banking fund.

Gerry graduated from Harvard in 1968 and received his MBA from the

Harvard Business School. He has been president of two Citicorp equity

investment subsidiaries, president of the New York Venture Capital

Forum, and has served two terms as the governor of the National

Association

of Small Business Investment Companies.

To earned his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Princeton

University in 1969 and an MBA from the Wharton School in 1979. He

worked at Philips Electronics, RCA Corporation, AT&T Corporation and

Digital Equipment Corporation, was president of Citicorp Investments

Inc., and vice president at Citicorp Venture Capital Ltd. To divides

his time between the United States and the four Asian offices —

in Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore and Shanghai — which total 10

people. The VCs are hiring for the Asian offices.

Corrections or additions?


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