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Prepared for August 16, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All

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New in Tech Networking: GetContactX.com

Until now New Jersey has had two organizations —

New Jersey Technology Council and Technology New Jersey —

specifically

organized to serve high tech businesses on a nonprofit basis. New

Jersey Technology Council is a big state-wide group with numerous

committees, whereas Technology New Jersey was run by virtually one

person, Grace Polhemus.

Now Technology New Jersey (TNJ) has been subsumed by a brand-new and

very ambitious for-profit organization, founded by Steven E.C.

Sroczynski. The Global Electronic Technology ContactX Association,

known as GetContactX, has an office at 3100 Princeton Pike, Building

3 (609-844-9880; fax, 609-844-9890, www.GetContactX.com).

Like Technology New Jersey, GetContactX will provide a forum for

industry

professionals with regular events and seminars with regular E-mail

updates and newsletters. But it will also have additional bells and

whistles, such as a website with customized news delivery and the

opportunity to post member news releases. Sroczynski also has plans

to go nationwide.

Polhemus, who formerly had an office in shared space at the Carnegie

Center, is now consulting to GetContactX. Her website now morphs into

the GetcontactX home page, and TNJ memberships have been transferred

to the new organization. Two events that were on her schedule have

been transferred to the new group. For instance, Polhemus’ second

website contest got bogged down this year. She canceled the contest

and gala planned for June, and Sroczynski has rescheduled it for

Thursday,

November 16, at the Parsippany Sheraton.

Sroczynski opened his offices in May and launched a web site early

in July. His team includes Heidi S. Hooper, operations vice president,

who moved here from Washington. A 1993 graduate of Radford University,

Hooper ran the Y2K and then the E-commerce components of ITAA, the

world’s largest technology trade group. "On the day she briefed

the White House on E-commerce, she turned in her resignation,"

says Sroczynski, "and she moved here in April; she is one of the

investors."

Sroczynski says he intends to grow to be the

"largest

global community for professionals and organizations in the technology

and other industries, a dynamic middle ground between traditional

professional venues — filling the market void between community

event and large-scale industry events."

Among GetContactX first events will be a seminar entitled "PR

That Works: The Media Talks Back" on Thursday, August 24, from

1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at KatManDu in Trenton. Media professionals from

the tri-state area, will discuss do’s and don’ts, press objectives,

and share anecdotal, "real-world" advice for companies that

are looking for media exposure and wish to accomplish their goals

in a more effective, realistic way. Learn how leading industry users

are dealing with this challenge — the status of their efforts,

problems faced and significant issues addressed. The charity to

benefit

from this event is Pet Rescue Mercer. Cost: $50 for non-members, $30

for members.

After the seminar, GetContactX will hold its first monthly technology

social on the deck at KatManDu. Cost: $20 for nonmembers, $15 for

members at the door.

Other events on the schedule are "Application Service Providers

(ASP): The New Business Model," on Tuesday, September 12, at 1:30

p.m. at the Parsippany Hilton. Also "Wireless Application

Protocol"

on Thursday, September 21, at the Princeton Marriott. "E-data

Warehousing: Understanding Your Customer" will be a conference

and expo at the Newark Airport Marriott on Thursday, September 28.

On Thursday, October 19, "Knowledge Management: Lessons

Learned,"

will be a conference and expo at the Newark Airport Marriott.

Sroczynski had held three regional manager’s positions for Entre

Computers

nationwide, and most recently was working with Visionnet Systems to

sell Y2K business. He left in April, 1999, and — as he gleefully

puts it — has not worked outside the home since that time. "It

was a good stock market period; there was money to be made. For the

better part of eight months I did nothing but research the technology

industry, taking a look at other associations around the country."

GetContactX has 30 stockholders and its corporate attorney, the

Wilmington

office of Pepper Hamilton, has filed to open the business in 13

states.

He compares himself to the other state organizations: The New Jersey

Technology Council (NJTC) "will always provide something the

others

don’t provide. Where NJTC and TNJ let down, they didn’t bring in

non-members

to attend the events," he says. "We need to communicate to

the nonmember community and add to the member community, and our model

includes a large event component. Also we will have purely social

events for networking, a monthly social in every given geographic

area."

Sroczynski might partner with other groups, such as chambers of

commerce

that need to expose their members to technology companies. "Very

niche-y, very vertical organizations could also be a good fit,"

he says. He also hopes to partner with the manufacturer of an office

product, so that company’s salespeople can also sell memberships in

his organization. "If they send people our way they will do

well,"

he says.

He takes pride in the for-profit status of GetContactX. "Our

membership

is a clientele, so we are driven to providing contacts for sales,

marketing, finance, and services. If someone were to join and didn’t

find what they were looking for — prospective new clients, end

users, venture capitalists, or bankers — we would have let them

down. That would be an area in which we didn’t meet the

commitment."

The grandson of sweatshop workers, Sroczynski is proud of his alma

mater, Hamilton College, and has given 1 percent of the stock in the

firm to the college and 1/2 percent to Chi Psi, his fraternity. The

company is owned, in fact, by friends, family, and fraternity members.

Sroczynski, who majored in economics, accounting and marketing at

the upstate New York college (Class of 1973), claims he could have

obtained venture capital but preferred to issue limited shares,

investments

of $5,000 to $30,000, so that "regular people were able to

participate.

All these people, in some way, I have met." One third of the

investors

are from the fraternity.

Says he: "If I’m right it takes off."

He hopes his first events will help rapidly grow the organization

to 2,000 members in the first year. His fees, he says, are about 15

percent less than the regional groups such as New Jersey Technology

Council, and the price will reflect whether he has an office in the

member’s state. If he doesn’t, the company pays a lower price. (These

fees are available on the website only by filling out an application.

For one typical corporate application, the fees are $499 for a

nine-person

company, $699 for 25 people, $999 for 99 people, and $1,899 for 200

people.)

One investor lives in Michigan and is lining up corporate members

in Detroit. Sroczynski plans to send a SWAT team to each new office

to work with the staff and ensure consistency.

Though the employees in this organization have bought stock they are

working for a salary, not stock. Pay is pay, stock is stock, says

Sroczynski, who believes that "our investors are comfortable with

our getting paid for what we do."

Polhemus has just been hired by CertifiedMail.com, a Springfield-based

firm that provides security for sending E-mail and attachments. She

will edit a weekly E-newsletter to focus on such issues as E-mail

security, privacy, government updates on new bills including the

E-Signature

Bill and other technology changes. She has mixed feelings about her

organization that lasted nearly three years but says her lack of staff

was a handicap. "I was so involved in organizing that my sales

department did not keep up with the membership," says Polhemus.

"A lot of what he plans to do is what I always wanted to do with

TNJ," says Polhemus. "Of course he studied every association

on the planet, who was doing what, and why they were successful and

why they weren’t, and what he has done is take the best of each. I’m

real excited for them — and they have the resources to make it

happen."

— Barbara Fox


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