Expansions

New in Town

Crosstown Moves

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This article was prepared for the August 13, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Life in the Fast Lane

When they started their software business — Simple

Solve Inc. — three years ago, Antony Xavier and Sam Serrapede

did almost everything right. The one mistake they did make almost

put them out of business.

The mistake: trying to defend themselves in an intellectual property

lawsuit filed by a Massachusetts-based company. "We learned the

hard way that emotions rule the process," says Xavier. "When

the lawyers come in, they say your chances are pretty good, and you

don’t pay attention to what it will cost you. You are wrapped up in

the emotion of proving yourself right and your opponent wrong, and

then you get the bill. The expenses were very damaging to us."

"It has been a financial struggle and an emotional struggle,"

says Xavier. "We had staked all our personal assets to get started.

We are in the process of getting funding to start up again."

The son of an aircraft engineer, Xavier grew up in the Kerala section

of India, went to Loyola College in Chennai, Class of 1976, and also

earned his law degree there. Married, he has three school-age children.

Serrapede is a first-generation Italian American who went to City

University of New York, Class of 1964. His wife directs the work/life

initiative at KPMG.

Xavier and Serrapede had started Simple Solve Inc. at 600 Alexander

Road in 2000. They did contract work on a reporting database for a

medical malpractice insurance company and also came up with their

own product, an insurance administration system software called SimpleInsure.

This manages the book of business of an insurance carrier. The software

takes care of issuing and managing policies, invoicing, premium accounting,

managing receivables, recording claims, and event customer service

functions related to policy receivables and claims. Using Chennai-based

programmers they were able to finish the product in two years, and

they launched it last summer.

Then came the law suit. Under the presumption that Xavier and Serrapede

had used trade secrets to develop SimpleInsure, a Massachusetts-based

firm filed suit. "We did not take it as seriously as we should

have," says Xavier, "in terms of the technical expertise required

in managing the litigation." Legal proceedings escalated and expenses

mounted.

Finally the court turned the case over to a mediator and the two had

a chance to meet directly with the plaintiff, their former employer.

The next part of their story will be music to the ears of those who

advocate for mediation instead of litigation. "When we met, that’s

when things came to light," says Xavier. "Both parties decided

to eliminate the attorneys. From that point on until the final settlement

we did not involve the attorneys.

"We were very pleased at the mutual reasonableness of the settlement,"

says Xavier. "The overall objective for both of us was that both

companies could co-exist in the market without hurting each other

or paying a lot of money to the attorneys. Both sides concluded that

it made a lot of sense to settle out of court, that it was an unnecessary

expense to go through trial. Maybe logically it was not justified.

Maybe morally it was not justified. But it made business sense."

Simple Solve estimated the total cost of going through a full trial,

complete with hiring technical experts, would have been a minimum

of $500,000. And timing was crucial. Says Xavier: "We would have

had to declare bankruptcy, business and personal, if this whole process

had been delayed just two or three months. The settlement cost was

nowhere near what it would have cost to go to trial."

The lawsuit settled in April. Meanwhile, they had exhausted the financing

available to them from Fleet Bank. So their current business attorney,

Steve Cohen of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, referred them to a funding

firm that is now doing the due diligence process required before making

a commitment. "Xavier and Serrapede are veterans of the insurance

industry in the IT space who identified a business niche that was

unfulfilled and sought to develop a program to fill that niche,"

says Cohen. So far, their product has received rave reviews from the

experts who look at it.

The principals plan to launch the second version of their software

product this month. More than 50,000 offshore programmer hours have

gone into SimpleInsure, which will be marketed to small and medium

insurance companies for a five figure price.

All the pieces of this rescue puzzle were coming together nicely until,

at the end of last month, they had one more piece of bad luck: burglars.

Burglars broke the window of an adjoining office, kicked through the

wall, and made off with two laptops. Fortunately the company is insured.

"We have not lost anything that would disrupt our business, because

we have backups and copies. But," says Xavier in a masterpiece

of understatement, "it has been a testing time."

— Barbara Fox

Simple Solve Inc., 600 Alexander Road, Princeton

08540. Antony Xavier, president. 609-452-2323; fax, 609-452-2314.

Home page: www.simplesolve.com

Top Of Page
Expansions

Credit Union of New Jersey, 7 Dunmore Avenue, Ewing

08618. Andrew L. Jaeger, president/CEO. 609-538-4061; fax, 609-538-4057.

Www.CUNJ.org

The Credit Union of New Jersey broke ground on August

6 on a two-story, 22,000-square-foot brick headquarters on 4 acres

of the 84-acre property that used to be the General Motors plant,

off Parkway Avenue. Expected to be finished in fall of 2004, the building

will replace three of its six locations in Ewing including the 10,000

square foot headquarters on Dunmore Street and branches on Parkway

Avenue and in the Glen Roc shopping center. Other branches are at

225 East State Street, 12 East Lafayette Street, and at the Lalor

Building in Trenton.

The credit union recently merged with Parkway Financial Credit Union

and now has 29,000 members and assets of $150 million. It paid $500,000

for the land (formerly an employee ballfield and now environmentally

clean) and contracted with HBE Corp for the construction. Included

will be eight teller stations, a drive-through station, a financial

center with a consultant, an information station, and a training room

for up to 100 people.

Arlington Capital Mortgage Corporation, 33 Witherspoon

Street, Princeton 08542. Stephen S. Thompson, regional manager.

609-921-3131; fax, 609-921-8558. Home page: www.thinkarlington.com

After six years on Witherspoon Street, the Princeton

office of Arlington Capital Mortgage is expanding, doubling in size

in the last 18 months. It grew from nine to 18 employees and expanded

from 2,180 square feet to 3,634 feet. The just-occupied area is the

space formerly occupied by Kinko’s.

With Kevin Kenyon as president, Arlington has 150 employees and has

closed $5 billion in residential loans since it was founded 15 years

ago in Bensalem.

The Avoca Group, 179 Nassau Street, Suite 3A, Princeton

08542. Patricia Leuchten, principal. 609-252-9020; fax, 609-252-9022.

Www.theavocagroup.com

Avoca Group, the pharmaceutical consulting firm, moved from 195 Nassau

Street to 179 Nassau Street. "We have expanded our service,"

says Patricia Leuchten, founder of the firm that used to be known

as PharmaLink. With two employees here and five at client/remote sites,

it consults to pharmaceuticals, biotechs, and CROs on outsourcing,

contracting, and facilitating partnerships.

Hilton Realty Company of Princeton, 194 Nassau

Street, Suite 22, Princeton 08542. George H. Sands, senior partner.

609-921-6060; fax, 609-924-1992. Www.hiltonrealtyco.com

Mark Hill and Jon Brush, leasing agents for Hilton Realty, have expanded

their space and occupy a third-floor office overlooking Nassau Street.

Among the properties they lease: Research Park, Windsor Business Park,

Ewing Commerce Park, Enterprise Park off Sullivan Way, Whitehorse

Professional Building, Kuser Plaza, Montgomery Shopping Center, and

Princeton Arms Shopping Center.

Top Of Page
New in Town

Stewart Industries, 4365 Route 1 South, Suite 110,

Princeton 08540. Rob Bain, manager. 609-734-0008; fax, 609-734-0250.

Home page: www.stewartind.com

A Mount Laurel-based office equipment company moved

into 4365 Route 1 South, the building just south of the Radisson Hotel.

It sells Savin/Ricoh-brand copiers, fax machines, and digital high

volume print solutions in color, black and white, and wide-format.

Headed by Chuck Cahn, son of founder Stewart Cahn, the company has

eight employees here, plus nine technicians on the road, and it has

five other branches.

Interactions LLC, 4 Princess Road, Suite 205, Lawrenceville

08648. Michael Cloran, CEO. 609-658-8020; fax, 609-637-9762. Www.interactions.net

On Princess Road, Michael Cloran’s firm is working on software tools

for the customer contact center industry.

Top Of Page
Crosstown Moves

Stratus Services Group, 9 Princess Road, Suite

B, Lawrenceville 08648. Linda Valyo, manager. 609-883-3000; fax,

609-883-8344. Www.stratusservices.com

The staffing company moved from a building across the street from

the Lawrence Shopping Center to Princess Drive. "We moved to get

a better location, where people can find us more easily," says

Cindi Dwyer, assistant manager.

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

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