SimX Software

Leaving Town

Contracts Awarded

Crosstown Moves

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Barbara Fox were prepared for the September 24,

2003 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Mort Collins’ New Venture

One of Princeton’s most prominent venture capitalists,

Mort Collins, has come out of semi-retirement to start a $150 million

venture capital fund focusing on technologies discovered in federal

laboratories. Named Battelle Ventures LP, the fund will develop


coming from laboratories managed by the Battelle Memorial Institute,

which is based in Columbus, Ohio. The fund, however, is


at Carnegie Center.

A not-for-profit organization, Battelle Memorial Institute employs

16,000 scientists and engineers at about 1,000 companies and 800


agencies, including such national laboratories as those at Brookhaven

and Oak Ridge. The varous operations conduct some $2.7 billion in

research and development in about 4,500 projects annually, and they

produce from 50 to 100 patents.

To help him manage the new fund, Collins has enlisted Jim Millar,

Ron Hahn, and Kef Kasdin as partners. Millar had worked with Collins

at DSV Enterprises, Collins’ former venture capital firm. With Hahn,

Millar formed Early Stage Enterprises (ESE) in 1996, and they were

joined by Kasdin. Earlier this month the $44 million ESE fund moved

from the Amboy bank building on Route 518 to the Carnegie Center.

Currently the 8,000-foot office has just six people, including the

four partners, but additional personnel will be hired.

"I have always been stunned by the amount of technology at


and the national laboratories it manages, yet almost no commercial

application of these technologies has ever occurred," says


"It’s like being a kid on Christmas morning, to have all of that

to select from and decide what to choose to build companies."

He will look first for seed, start-up, and first-stage inventions

in the areas of homeland security, life sciences, information


materials, and energy. The new fund could invest up to $12 million

in a single company over its lifetime.

"Mort Collins is a real local hero who did well in business and

went into venture capital and had a host of success stories,"

says Greg Olsen, founder of Epitaxx and Sensors Unlimited. "He

did a lot of due diligence and the vast majority of his deals got

him a return."

Collins, 67, has a chemical engineering degree from the University

of Delaware and a PhD from Princeton. he founded Data Science Ventures

(DSV Partners) in 1968 and helped start such companies as Tandem


the Liposome Company, Transwitch Corporation, Epitaxx (now JDS


and PD-LD in Pennington. He chaired President Reagan’s task force

on innovation and entrepreneurship, served as technology policy


to President George H.W. Bush, and is a former chairman of the


Venture Capital Association.

Hahn grew up in California, the son of a single working mother,

and went to Occidental College, Class of ’66, then earned a finance

MBA from UCLA. After working as an investment banker, he began doing

venture capital in 1974 and joined Commodities Corporation in 1976.

He founded Princeton/Montrose Partners of Poor Farm Road and worked

at a large venture capital firm and merchant bank before joining


at ESE. Millar, one of eight children, grew up in Philadelphia and

South Jersey, where his father was a mechanical engineer and his


was an entrepreneur. After Yale, Class of 1980, he worked as a design

engineer for Texas Instruments, then earned his Wharton MBA and joined

DSV Partners in 1985. He is married to a pediatrician, and they have

four children.

Kasdin is a Princeton University alumna who made her mark at 3Com

Corporation in Santa Clara, California, most recently driving key

strategic and operational initiatives. When she moved to New Jersey

she consulted to the Sarnoff Corporation to identify spinoff


and future investment opportunities. She became a partner at ESE in


As they make new investments for Battelle, the ESE partners will


to manage their ESE investments with 11 active companies. Says Hahn:

"It’s very exciting. It’s a great time to be investing in early

stage companies. The values are very good, and Battelle is a premiere

research organization."

— Barbara Fox

Battelle Ventures LP, 103 Carnegie Center, Suite

200, Princeton 089540. 609-921-8896; fax, 609-921-8703. Home page:

Top Of Page
SimX Software

SimX arrived in America as just an idea. The germ of

the company, which develops software to make programming tasks vastly

quicker and easier, traveled from Moscow to East Windsor with Vlad

Bernstein some 12 years ago.

Bernstein had been an engineer with the Central Heat Energy Institute

in Moscow, an agency from which he also received his Ph.D. Working

on energy power plants, his idea for software that nearly anyone could

use — with little training — for complex tasks had taken hold.

Yet he believed he would have little chance of developing and


such a product in Russia.

"The Soviet system was not acceptable for me, and I was not


for it," he says. "I had this idea, and I started developing

it in Russia, but I saw no future for it there."

Bernstein chose to set up shop in the Princeton pretty much at random,

he says. He knew little of the United States, but had seen Princeton

University. "I was amazed, absolutely," he says of his


of that institution.

Employment was the driving force behind his choice of a new home.

He found a job — actually substantial consulting work — at

CNA Insurance, which has seen been acquired a number of times. Money

from consulting work has fueled the development of SIMX products.

"We are self-funded," says Bernstein, who runs the company

along with his partner, Andrei Afanassenkov, with whom he had worked

in Moscow. Their company, which has its offices at 510 Route 130,

has eight employees — seven software developers, and one sales

and marketing person. Bernstein’s wife, Olga, is the accountant, and

their son, Nikita, age 25, is an employee. Another son, Anthony, is

entering his senior year at Hightstown High School.

There has been no culture shock in the Bernstein family, says the

paterfamilas. No teen-age rebellion, American style. "Somehow

we have kept Russian culture in the family," he says.

While there have been no shockwaves at home, Bernstein is counting

on creating shockwaves with his family of products, called Target

2.0. The first of which, Report Manager Light, has just gone on sale,

and can be downloaded for a free trial at his company’s website,

"It’s called `target,’" says Bernstein, "because we are

changing the audience for software development." It now takes

substantial training, and equally substantial patience, to create

software for a specific purpose, whether that be making charts from

reams of raw data or putting up a website to wow potential customers

— and make it easy to buy.

SimX’s family of products is being developed with an eye toward


programming tasks down to a size that will be embraced by people with

expertise in their chosen professions, but little familiarity with

programming. The idea, says Bernstein, is to take people who know

their business and to "let them do what they need right away,

very easily." His products, he says, "reduces the requirements

for developers dramatically."

His software can be customized and running, he says, "within a

few hours."

Examples of SimX software at work abound at the company’s website,

and they are amazing. There is a link to a website designed by artist

Vladimir Aituganov after only two hours of training. Front and center

is a bracelet with violet orbs at each side. Hold a cursor on the

bracelet and it revolves completely in every direction. The site also

includes a sort of slide show. Thumbnail prints of pen and ink


sit in a row off to the left. Click on any one, and it comes to life,

in an easy-to-scrutinize size, in the center of the screen. The


website is clean, professional, and full of well-organized sections,

which provide information on everything from the artist’s life to

books and articles he has written.

One example of the work that can be done with SimX’s software is hard

to pull away from. Using its database access capability, SimX has

created a gallery of 3-D objects that are ready to be included in

websites. Pull-down menus lead to an extensive collection of objects,

all of which are just waiting to be spun around and around. Start

spinning the taxi cabs and rotating the salamanders and it is hard

to move on to a more productive task.

On the more professional side, the website includes examples of


a designer used to build "a complex, mathematically intense


in just two days. There is also a quality assurance database


that was put together in three days. All of these times, assures


are a tiny fraction of the standard software development timeline.

Is anyone else doing what SimX does? The answer is sort of. No one

is doing exactly what SimX is doing, and no one is within a couple

of years of catching up with all of the functionality in its software

packages, says Bernstein.

Given this lead, Bernstein says that Simx’s end is clear. The company

will be purchased, he says. No suitor is yet on the radar, but


who has made the transition to capitalism in just over a decade, says

he is confident that one will appear as soon as the company builds

a market for its products.

— Kathleen McGinn Spring

SimX Corporation, 510 Route 130, Suite 15, East

Windsor 08520. Vladimir Bernstein, software engineer. 609-371-8495;

fax, 609-371-5324. E-mail: Home page:

Top Of Page
Leaving Town

McLean Engineering, 2 Applegate Drive, Robbinsville


A 50-year old manufacturing operation has shut down, putting 160


out of work, the victim of a corporate buyout gone sour.

McLean Engineering manufactured fans and blowers for the


industry at 70 Washington Road in Princeton Junction before it


to Robbinsville.

The firm was bought in the 1997-1998 time period by Minnesota based

Applied Power, a public firm. In December, 2002, Applied Power split

into Actuant Corporation, which is publicly traded, and APW Ltd.,

a private firm which kept the McLean brand, according to an APW


who asked not to be named.

Early this year APW began to close McLean and though it posted the

required announcement with the state labor department, almost no


was taken of the closing until former employees began to show up on

job wanted lists.

"I can’t say why it closed, but it closed," says the


"I can’t say where the manufacturing is being done, but it is

being done. Obviously we don’t enjoy closing facilities."

Top Of Page
Contracts Awarded

RCN Corporation (RCNC), 105 Carnegie Center,


08540. David C. McCourt, chairman and CEO. 609-734-3700; fax,


Home page:

RCN has a joint venture with Pepco Communications to provide


and video services to Georgetown University. To be called Starpower

Communications, the joint venture will provide a broadband network

linking the campus with other locations,

Top Of Page
Crosstown Moves

Lewis Kassel Photography, 35 East Broad Street,

Hopewell 08525. 609-466-0267; fax, 609-466-0328. Home page:

Lewis Kassel moved his photography from a commercial space at 17


Avenue, a building that he owns, to his own large home. "I turned

the whole building into an investment property," he says.

Kassel does event and portrait photography with what he terms "a

candid photojournalistic bent," and most of the work is done at

client sites.

Laser Energetics Inc., 3535 Quakerbridge Road,

Suite 601, Mercerville 08619. Robert D. Battis, founder, president

and CEO. 609-587-8250; fax, 609-587-9315. Home page:

Laser Energetics moved from 4044 Quakerbridge Road to a temporary

space, 8,000 square feet at 3535 Quakerbridge Road, where it has 12

employees. It plans to expand to a new space this fall.

The company builds alexandrite lasers and laser systems for


military, scientific and medical applications.

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