IPGDirect Expanding

Buyer for Nex-i.com

Foreign Funds for Geeps

OEM Deals for Knite

Refocusing, Downsizing

Corrections or additions?

Where Are the 2000 Companies Now?

Entrants to this year’s NJTC venture fair will arrive

with high hopes. But what ever happened to companies that put their

hopes and dreams up for auction at last year’s fair? Princeton’s seven

entries comprised just 10 percent of the total. With two significant

exceptions, the Princeton-area companies represented at last year’s

fair have prospered. None can point to the venture fair as a specific

source of capital, but most say they benefited — if indirectly

— from the exposure.

Top Of Page
IPGDirect Expanding

IPGDirect.com won the "best management team" award

and grew quickly, moving from the Straube Center to Newtown,

Pennsylvania,

where it now has 35 employees. IPG Direct covers, compiles, and

delivers

news and research information in three markets — commercial real

estate, energy, and construction. (215-504-4288, www.ipgdirect.com).

With 35 employees, it offers real-time market reports, benchmark

pricing

indexes, deal-flow databases, expert commentary, and in-depth news

reports.

Top Of Page
Buyer for Nex-i.com

Nex-i.com, which won the "most likely to go

public"

prize, had a different kind of success — it was sold. President

Ira Baseman’s first child was days away from being born when he closed

on his second round of funding — and six months old when he sold

the company to EurekaGGN (www.eurekaggn.com) for its broadband

"rollup"

of integrated communications services. Now he plans to take some time

to enjoy his baby daughter.

Baseman says that Nex-i.com received no direct investment traceable

to the fair, but that participation increased the company’s exposure.

"I would say without question that our part in the last year’s

NJTC venture fair was most helpful," says Baseman. In contrast

to the often very fancy exhibits, his consisted of a tablecloth, a

backdrop with a logo, and an investor-oriented flyer that he and

Jessica

Michaud, the vice president of marketing, had put together. "We

kept it simple," he says, "and return on investment was

exceptional."

"Receiving the `most likely to go public" award validated

us and gave us something to talk about. It’s about presentation and

getting your message on," says Baseman. "You have to walk away

with some exposure that you can point to substantively, whether

getting

a picture or your name in the paper, or walking away with a prize.

I’ll keep that plaque for the next opportunity."

EurekaGGN, based in Manhattan, resulted from a merger last year

between

Eureka Broadband Corp. (which delivered broadband Internet to

commercial

buildings) and Gillette Global Network (which provided voice services,

dedicated Internet access, and Web application services). Packaged

with the nex-i purchase was nex-i’s $10 million in cash plus another

$4 million from its investors, Mellon Ventures and LLR Equity

Partners.

The 20-person office at Emmons Drive is expected to be closed.

Both Baseman and co-founder Michael Markulec were first time

entrepreneurs

when they opened an office at Research Park to do "plug and

play"

local networks for small to medium-sized businesses. Baseman, who

graduated in 1984 from George Washington, says that in the days before

the second round of funding, he contemplated naming his future

daughter

"Series B." He declines to say what he made from the sale

but expects to "reengage in a new venture" soon.

Top Of Page
Foreign Funds for Geeps

Geeps.com came away empty handed from the venture fund

last year but found funding overseas, from London-based Cupola

Investments.

This two-year-old 20-person company at Exit 8A’s Cedar Brook Corporate

Center is a location-based wireless Internet shopping portal (U.S.

1, November 29, 2000). If you turn on your Palm Pilot as you walk

down the street, sales and special offers will be beamed to you from

nearby stores.

"United States VCs are not very active in wireless, and European

VCs are more open, because there is a different acceptance level in

Europe and Japan," says Arshad Mashood, president (609-409-8484,

www.geeps.com). "We have $3 million in additional funding, for

a total of $7 million, and are on track for product development and

customer signups." The old-fashioned method of sending out a

business

plan was what piqued Cupola’s interest, but attending overseas venture

fairs helped as well.

Top Of Page
OEM Deals for Knite

Knite Inc.: Since the NJTC venture fair, though not as

a result of it, Knite has hired a hotshot executive and is finding

investors on its own. The arrival of David Boyer as president and

CEO coincided with $1 million in new money, including $600,000 tied

to Boyer (some of this was his investment).

"We got no money at the fair but useful contacts were made

there,"

says Boyer. The company has raised a total of $3 million and is

seeking

$2 million to $5 million for a second round. "We would like to

have two to three years funding to be able to ramp up," says

Boyer,

who is looking for more office space to accommodate R&D efforts in

electronics and engine technology. "Our business model is not

to go public but to license the technology to OEMs (original equipment

manufacturers). We have a number of customers, including one of the

automotive OEMs, plus a large marine OEM."

Founded to market and license new ignition system applications, Knite

has eight employees at Princeton Corporate Plaza (Deer Park Drive)

and two workers at an engine lab in a warehouse on Whitehorse Road.

The founder is a Princeton University plasma physics teacher, Szymon

Suckewer, whose son Art is chief technology office (www.knite.com).

Knite’s Kinetic Spark Ignition (KSI) generates a spark 100 times

greater

than the conventional system for just slightly more in cost, says

Boyer. "If tuned properly it should result in vastly improved

combustion, increased power, expanded fuel efficiency, and substantial

reductions in emission. Manufacturers are having great difficulty

getting direct fuel injection to function efficiently with improved

performance over conventional fuel delivery systems. The KSI ignition

system can help launch direct fuel injection systems as well as

enhance

performance on lean burn and exhaust gas recirculation systems."

He predicts an improvement in fuel economy by 15 percent on the road

and up to 30 percent for marine engines.

The son of an entrepreneur, Boyer and his wife have an entrepreneurial

son and two grown daughters. He went to St. Joseph’s in Indiana, Class

of 1964, and attended the University of Detroit, was a sales engineer

for Texaco, served in the Coast Guard, and went to the planned

management

development course at Harvard. Starting at Teleflex 32 years ago,

he worked his way up to CEO of the 14,000-worker $1.6 billion company

in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. Last year he left the job, to be

replaced by the chairman’s son, and invested in the KSI technologies.

"I had a track record of consistent earnings and revenue growth

performance, and was looking around for a startup with some young

people. The KSI technology looked like it had significant potential,

and it seemed exciting to pilot a canoe instead of an aircraft

carrier."

Top Of Page
Refocusing, Downsizing

One of the few biotech firms to enter last year’s fair, Veritas

Medical Technologies has refocused and changed its name to

Vectramed

Inc.. It moved its office within Forrestal Village and James

Pachence,

the president, is temporarily housed with InsureHiTech. The laboratory

work is still being accomplished by five researchers at the University

of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Pachence says the firm has

moved to site directed drug delivery rather than oral, sustained

release

of drugs (609-466-8712, www.vectramed.com).

The once-high flying dot com firm Make Us an Offer , headed

by the husband and wife team of Michael and Kathy Morell, has

disappeared

from the scene. Another entrant into last year’s fair, Cell USA

Inc., has gone into bankruptcy.

Dire consequences came when Cell USA failed to reach its venture

fair target, $1.5 million. The France-based virtual instrument company

that develops "plug and play peripherals" for use with PCs

had already spent $1.4 million to get products through the early

manufacturing

stages. Cell USA’s products can be used in the field on a laptop;

it hoped to replace similar products that are attached to dedicated

PCs.

To squeeze costs Michael Hinds outsourced to a firm in Summit and

closed his office at the Daily Plan It on Alexander Road. When the

company went into receivership in France, Hinds put in an offer to

buy the assets, including the intellectual property, for 10 cents

on the dollar. "I am still trying to raise money," says Hinds,

a former vice president of Cytogen (E-mail: lmhinds@msn.com, Box 843,

Washington Crossing PA 18977).

The website (www.cellinc.com) is still live but does not take orders.


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