Entrepreneurs Share Their Hard-Earned Lessons at the NJEF

Experience forever defies the maxim. A better built mousetrap, by

itself, brings no one to your door. But if you do come up with a great

leap forward in a technology everyone wants, you just may catch the

glance of an angel. And angels can start you off in a business that

will, indeed, bring the masses, cash in hand.

The more practical maxim is to model yourself after success. Study

well-funded startups. Learn their tricks and see what they did right.

To provide some examples, the New Jersey Entrepreneur’s Forum (NJEF)

offers its "The Best of the Rest," presentation on Wednesday, February

16, at 8:30 a.m. at the Hyatt in New Brunswick. Cost $50. Visit

NJAngels.net or call 732-873-1955.

Sponsored by NJ Angels.net, an NJEF division, this series of talks is

given by several new firms in various stages of development.

Freehold-based Lifeblood Medical (www.lifebloodmedical.com), founded

by Joseph Fisher in 2001, is stepping out with three new products that

will require approximately $2.5 million in initial funding.

Lifeblood’s three innovative solutions, "Lifor" for human organs,

"LiforLab" for tumors, and "LiforCell" for stem cells, will triple the

amount of time these human tissues can remain suspended and still


Fisher has completed the tests for his product, and has lined up a

manufacturer and a distribution system. An angel’s dream, Fisher’s

solutions and equipment have moved through most of the FDA’s

requirements, and could be marketable in a relatively short time.

Further along the funding track is Boston’s Hamilton Thorne

Biosciences (www.HamiltonThorneBiosciences.com), which seeks to bring

to market two new seemingly unrelated product lines. Back in 2001

veteran commercial catalyst Meg Hamilton teamed up with entrepreneur

and toxicologist Dr. Harry McCoy seeking a better way to harvest stem

cells. They found one that was promising enough to pull in $13 million

in angel and venture capital funding, have established their company,

and are now expanding.

Much of this innovative turnover can be credited to Hamilton Thorne’s

president. A self-professed nomad, McCoy’s varied career has ranged

from the Arizona desert of his youth to the frozen plains of

Minnesota. "My mother was one of those housewives who wasn’t a

scientist, but should have been," says McCoy. Perhaps that led her son

to graduate from the University of California, San Diego in l973 with

a B.S. in biology. From there McCoy moved completed his biology Ph.D.

at the University of California, San Francisco. During the next seven

years, McCoy taught did pharmacology postdoctoral work at the

University of Minnesota.

In l984 McCoy began his first toxicology testing company. As a

commercial diagnostician, he has hunted down toxic environments for

the past two decades all across the country. While McCoy has spent

part of his career as an employee for companies such as Med Tox

Scientific, he really prefers to have a hand on the helm.

Catching the glimpse of an investing angel demands no mean

performance. But the new companies which form the NJEF’s Best of the

Rest have several common traits:

A real step forward. Both Lifeblood Medical and Hamilton Thorne

Biosciences have stepped far beyond any competition. Several biotech

companies offer an electrolyte bath that keeps tissue viable for up to

12 hours. But University of Berlin studies show Fisher’s "Lifor" juice

made from amino acids, oxygen carrying molecules, and a pinch of very

secret ingredients, will hold specimens for 36 hours with no spoilage.

Which would you depend on when shipping a kidney?

Hamilton Thorne’s original product, the Xyclone, is equally novel.

"The real innovation here," explains McCoy, "comes with a totally new,

more finely focused laser that can open up very precise holes in cell

membranes and reveal chromosomes." Best of all, this centralized laser

can be focused by the harvester while he is observing his own work

through a microscope lens. Further experimentation of the laser proved

that using a higher energy with a shorter pulse caused less heating up

of the valued cells and allowed less damage. With such a refined tool,

Hamilton Thorne has been doing a brisk business with universities and

pharmaceutical companies for the past four years.

Now McCoy and his team of engineers and physicists have turned their

talents towards the world of mold. "I know it seems as if detection of

mold and toxins have nothing to do with the Xyclone," states McCoy,

"but they really employ the same scientific platform."

Regardless of its platform, Hamilton Thorne Biosciences’ new

Electronic Nose streamlines drawn out and sometimes inaccurate tests

for toxic molds. Most testing for contaminating, toxic, and allergenic

substances in a building now entails finding the substance, taking a

scraping, sending it out to a lab, waiting a few weeks, hoping they

don’t lose or mix up the sample, and then getting the result.

Hamilton Thorne’s Electronic Nose allows the inspector to wave a hand

held unit around the room and get instant readings. The device is not

only more accurate than current tests, says McCoy, but it also is able

to penetrate behind walls, where toxins cannot be seen.

Similar in detection is Hamilton Thorne’s Molecular Sensor, which is

now under development. It performs the same kind of testing for

laboratories and areas that must remain totally uncontaminated.

Currently, air borne dust and mold are lab-tested by a polymer chain

reactor (PCR) process that separates the items’ DNA by raising and

lowering temperatures 40 or more times. "This leads to a lot of false

negatives," says McCoy, "because it’s like boiling water to see if

it’s contaminated. Our method, while also done in a lab, uses a static

temperature and gives a better reading, at an infinitely cheaper


An urgent need. Being innovative is nice. Standing above all the

competition is very good. But it takes an undeniable market to attract

an angel investor’s interest. Nobody needs to ask if a method that

makes transported human organs last longer will find some appeal.

Obviously, if it really works, the entire medical community is likely

to be interested. A better way to harvest stem cells accurately

without frying them? Same conclusion.

The concept of mold inspection may take investors aback, until they

check out a new federal statute. Each state is now required to

implement a mold-check program to be done upon the sale of every

residential and commercial building. Certificates of inspection and

safety must be provided. This requirement opens up the market for mold

testing services tremendously.

Heaven-sent help. If your startup or expanding firm has a minimal

track record, your odds are slim of extracting any cash from an

established bank. This does not mean that commercial lenders and

investment bankers are useless to you. Frequently they can put you in

touch with other types of lenders – including angels, who are most

often high-net worth individuals with a penchant for discovering

promising new companies.

Entrepreneurs perfecting a breakthrough technology backed by business

savvy and strong market demand may create a viable and growing

business with help from angels whose vision matches theirs.

Organizations like NJEF help to make the match.

– Bart Jackson

Why Divorce Can Be Not Always So Bad

On the verge of divorce, but terrified by the common perception of a

divorced woman as a weepy, broken mess, Ashton Applewhite received a

bracing insight from her attorney. "More women are realizing they are

not stuck," was his observation. Many of the women he was seeing were

taking a positive step toward a better life through divorce. A

professional writer and researcher, she took the comment and ran

straight to publisher HarperCollins with it. The result was a big

advance to write about the phenomenon. The five-year project, which

involved interviewing women all around the country, is "Cutting Loose:

Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well."

Applewhite talks about the subject on Friday, February 18, at 8:30

a.m. as a member of a panel titled "I Do? The Social, Legal, and

Cultural Definitions of Marriage." The event takes place at Mercer

County Community College.

Two sessions taking place later in the day are held at the Princeton

Theological Seminary. The 2:30 p.m. session, "Just Whose Business Is

Marriage?" features Russell Nieli, who teaches politics at Princeton;

Tom Palmer, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute; and Nancy Duff, who

teaches Christian ethics at the Seminary. The 7 p.m. session, "The

Theology of Marriage," features a number of Seminary faculty,

including Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger, Peter Paris, Elmer

Homrighausen, Dennis Olsen, James Kay, Joe Engle, and Hui Chen. Cost

for all three forums and dinner: $75. Cost for one forum: $25. Call

609-497-7990 or visit www.ptsem.edu.

"Look," says Applewhite, "marriage is a fine thing. Divorce is

horrible." She is not advocating mass divorce, but rather a social

order in which no one would have to get married – or stay married –

primarily because of financial, immigration, tax, or health care


The financial benefits marriage can bring to women are often

substantial, in no small part, Applewhite points out, because men

generally make a lot more money than women make. The earnings often

translate into bigger 401 (k) accounts, higher Social Security

payments, and a better standard of living. Still, after doing

preliminary research for her book, she found that it is most often the

female partner in a marriage who is willing to exchange security for


"I found that two-thirds to three-quarters of the time it is women who

initiate a divorce," says Applewhite. "And that’s not just in the

’70s." The figure has remained remarkably constant in the United

States throughout the decades. In fact, she says, "it was highest in

Colonial Connecticut when divorce became legal." In the early days of

divorce in that colony, fully 80 percent of the people seeking one

were women.

But wait, what about situations in states where one partner has to sue

for divorce claiming an injury, often adultery? Doesn’t the husband

sometimes gallantly offer to do so, even when he was not involved in

an affair? And doesn’t that skew the statistics? This is less true

with no fault divorce, which many states have adopted, says

Applewhite, but yes it happens. There are statistical quirks going the

other way, too. In her own case, it was Applewhite who wanted a

divorce, and who sued for one. But then her husband counter-sued, and

on the records he ended up being listed as the party seeking the


The statistics aren’t perfect, Applewhite admits, but she says that

her research makes her confident that in more than 50 percent of

divorces it is indeed the woman who initiates the action.

In many cases these women are far better off after the divorce, even

if they are poorer, as is often – but not always – the case.

Marriage, says Applewhite, is set up to benefit men. Women may think

that they are going into an egalitarian union, but, in her view, that

is rarely the case. "Look at the way marriage is structured," she

says. "You raise children so that he can go out and make money." That

system only worked for a very short period, mainly in the 1950s, and

even then it worked for only a relatively small number of middle class

women, she says. And yet marriages are still structured with that

arrangement in mind.

"You cook and clean," says Applewhite. "You send out the Christmas

cards. You look after the in-laws. You take his name; you’re slightly

subservient; you’re linked to his economic fortunes." The demands are

rarely overt, but there is almost always subtle pressure for women to

take on an outsized percentage of housework and childcare, and to

subsume their careers to the demands of family life, including a

spouse’s job. Says Applewhite: "The roles sneak in."

Feeling dissatisfied with the arrangement, 21st century women often

seek to get out, and feel confident that they will be better off

without the union. The shift in mindset has to do with a number of

factors, including history, longevity, and expectations.

Not so long ago, says Applewhite, "you married the boy next door,

raised goats together, and died at 40." Now, however, women expect to

find "Prince Charming, a fabulous sex life, and a best friend" all

wrapped together in one husband. With female longevity reaching toward

90 as a statistical average, the fellow has a lot to live up to – for

a very long time.

In interviewing divorced women of all races and classes from all

sections of the United States, Applewhite found that there was one

over-riding reason that they dissolved their unions. "They wanted to

be in charge of their own lives," she says.

As a poignant example, she talks about the mother who told her, "we

would fry an egg and divide it three ways." The divorced mother went

on to tell her that the hardship was preferable to enduring her

husband’s critical scrutiny of her grocery bill.

While many divorced women are poorer, some women – and men too – soar

economically after divorce. "Paradoxically," says Applewhite, "after

our divorce my husband went out and got a degree he had always wanted.

I wrote a book."

She has found many examples of career pops following divorce. "You

take that big leap," she says, "and you’re willing to take

professional risks, too. You’re able to make giant career leaps."

Applewhite, who lives in New York City, is a graduate of Hamilton

College (Class of 1974), and has been a full-time freelance writer for

20 years. Her specialty is science and technology, but she has written

on a wide range of genres, including a book of inspiration for people

with AIDS, and a book on quotes and jokes for speech writers. She

wrote the latter with her former husband before their divorce, and

updated it with him after they parted.

The mother of two, a daughter who is a freshman at Oberlin and a son

who is just finishing high school, she has a cooperative ongoing

relationship with her ex-husband. The pair use a mediator to help with

any complicated issues involving the children so that they can then

present a united front in handing down decisions. She is adamant that

women need to acknowledge their role in a marriage that does not work

out. "You have to take responsibility," she says. "It takes two to

screw up. You can’t blame him, or you’ll never be able to move on."

A lot of blame, in her opinion, goes to a society that values men’s

contributions more than those of women. "It’s not about how men are

bad," she says. "It’s about how society makes it hard to have an

egalitarian marriage."

Applewhite has been in a relationship with a man for 12 years, but

marriage is definitely not in her future. Opposed to formalizing the

bond, she says that she and her partner, who also has two children,

have, nevertheless, taken a step in that direction. The children were

worried that should something happen to a step-sibling, they would not

be allowed to visit in the hospital. "Children are the most

conservative force in the world," says Applewhite. Wanting to give

hers some peace of mind, she and her partner took advantage of New

York’s domestic partnership registry, and signed up.

Marriage, she insists, should be available to everyone – same sex

couples included. But there should also be alternatives to marriage

that would not carry economic and social penalties. A way to remove

one of the biggest penalties would be to institute good universal

health care, she says. Unhitch everything from health insurance to tax

breaks to inheritance laws from marriage and people would be more free

to choose the lifestyle that works best for them.

Applewhite found that women who chose to go it alone by ending a

marriage reported tremendous satisfaction with the choice. "This

wasn’t scientific," she quickly adds. "It wasn’t a double-blind study

or anything like that, and the women were self-selecting. They were

the women who volunteered to talk about their divorces." Within that

sample Applewhite found nearly 100 percent unanimity that life after

divorce was better than life before divorce. Proving, perhaps, that

one-third of an egg over which one has total control can sometimes be

better than an overstuffed omelette purchased with money from an

unsatisfying union.

– Kathleen McGinn Spring

Jumpstart New Jersey

Early stage and seed stage technology companies can submit a one-page

business summary to the Jumpstart New Jersey Angel Network, a member

led, statewide investor group with members from the tri-state area. To

be considered for a meeting with angel investors on Wednesday,

February 23, in North Brunswick, send this summary by Friday, February

18 (Email: koneill@jumpstartnj.com or call 856-813-1440).

"It will be an opportunity for company founders and CEOs to socialize

with technology angel investors on a personal and informal basis,"

says Katherine O’Neill, Jumpstart’s executive director. "Many of the

Jumpstart angles have built and sold businesses and have a wealth of

experience to share."

The event is by invitation only and is open to those who have not

applied to Jumpstart for funding in the last year. Based in Mt. Laurel

at the headquarters of the New Jersey Technology Council, Jumpstart

Angels invest in early stage technology companies in the Mid-Atlantic

area and meet monthly at various locations, including Princeton and

Edison (www.Jumpstartnj.com).

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