August 5, 2013
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Security is the top driver
By Joshua Burd
It lacked the intrigue and the
state-on-state warfare that’s be-
come common in corporate relo-
cations, but the sudden news that
Bausch & Lomb’s headquarters
will be moved to New Jersey has
raised eyebrows and questions in
the real estate community.
The eye care giant occupies
but has been based in Roches-
ter, N.Y., for more than a century.
That’s set to change following
last week’s announcement that
Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inter-
national — which is taking over
B&L — wants its new acquisition
to call the Garden State home.
Valeant, in Canada, also has
a New Jersey address — its Amer-
ican headquarters are in Bridge-
water — and has said it’s looking
between there and Madison for
B&L’s new headquarters.
And while neither town has
an insight on Valeant’s next move,
corporate credentials as the drug-
maker weighs its real estate needs.
“They’re already aware of
what it is to be in our township,”
Bridgewater Mayor Dan Hayes
said. “Now, we’re reaching out
Relocation has towns hoping to court vision giant
Meetups have tech startups building their networks
— and professional services firms are taking notice
See relocation on page 11
story, page 8
8 August 5, 2013 njbiz www.njbiz.com
by Tom Zanki
New Jersey Tech Meetup founder Aaron
Price has little tolerance for deadbeats.
Those who sign up, but don’t attend,
the technology network’s monthly gather-
ings are posted to a “wall of shame” that’s
e-mailed to members. Do it a second time,
and you’re barred from future invitations.
“It takes a lot of time to run the event. I
just ask people to respond,” Price said. “In
addition, a lot of people are on a waiting
list that would like to get in.”
Price has had no problem packing
them in, as the interest in industry meet-
ups reflects the strong interest and grow-
ing prominence of technology in New Jer-
sey’s diverse economy.
A recent event brought attendees
from as far away as San Jose, Calif., and
Finland, while the Hoboken meetups have
become so popular that similar offshoots
have taken root elsewhere in the state.
It’s no wonder.
New Jersey Tech Meetup, which was
founded in 2010, now claims more than
3,000 members, making it the largest
group of its kind in the state.
Price, who founded it on the convic-
tion that New Jersey is bubbling with en-
trepreneurial talent that simply lacks a
networking infrastructure, said the higher-
than-anticipated growth bodes well for the
“We’re taken much more seriously
than we were three years ago,” Price said.
“Now, people understand there is a com-
The meetings provide a mix of infor-
mation gathering, business card sharing
and schmoozing. Meetups open with net-
working, followed by presentations from
technology startups and a keynote speech.
After-event socializing at a nearby Hobo-
ken bar or restaurant is common.
And, critically, these meetups don’t
only attract entrepreneurs with big ideas,
but also business founders who need to
assemble varying talents to launch a more
One major concern is legal help. That
brought Erik Israni, a Montville attorney
specializing in business and intellectual
property, to the July 24 meetup. That event
filled the Babbio Center at Stevens Institute
of Technology with more than 130 attend-
Israni said he attended in search of cli-
ents who need legal counsel, noting many
entrepreneurs attach names to products
without researching whether those labels
are already taken, creating potential copy-
“There’s a lot of buzz terms people
want to latch onto, and they don’t realize
they are not the first to use them,” Israni
said. “People get so caught up and in love
with what they are working on. They think
it’s such a service to the customer, they
don’t realize they need to protect it. This
is a huge investment of time and energy.”
Entrepreneurs need three things before
they can launch a company, according to
Maxine Ballen, president of New Jersey
Tech Council, a Mount Laurel-based orga-
nization that supports the state’s technol-
ogy companies: access to capital, people
and the resources of a local region.
Ballen said the meetups provide a
simple and low-cost way to congregate
“The only way people are going to
get started is if they reach out and get en-
gaged at the lower level,” Ballen said. “As
they evolve, they can step up to the next
opportunity, like accelerators and incuba-
tors. Each one of those is a key rung on the
ladder, a key stage in the entrepreneur’s
evolution as they mature from a startup to
a fully mature company.”
Ballen said certain companies partici-
pating in meetups are maturing into strong
operations. One example is Phone.com,
which helps small businesses integrate
calls, texts, e-mails, social network activity
and business scheduling in a single plat-
form, in lieu of traditional phone service.
pany ranks No. 262 on Inc. magazine’s list of
the 500 fastest-growing private companies.
Phone.com product manager Aaron
Rosenthal said the company, a frequent
sponsor of New Jersey Tech Meetup, is
planning to launch a product expansion in
September. It values these gatherings as a
Getting plugged in
Meetups become a
hot ticket for those
wanting links to
Jeremy Hamel, of Sproute, gives a presentation to attendees during a July 24 New Jersey Tech Meetup event in Hoboken. –aaron houston
Breaking down the tech industry in New Jersey
New Jersey’s technology industry accounted for 311,869 jobs, or about 10 percent of the statewide
total, in 2011. Employment in the industry peaked in 2007 at 345,108 jobs. A look at the jobs:
Computer systems design ......................20.4%
Management and technical consulting ....11.9%
Architectural and engineering ................11.4%
Scientific research and development .......9.8%
Pharamaceutical manufacturing ...............9.6%
Wired communications carriers .................8.3%
Source: New Jersey Department of Labor
“The only way people are going to get started is if they reach out and get engaged at the lower level.”
Maxine Ballen, president of New Jersey Technology Council
www.njbiz.com njbiz August 5, 2013 9
BY Tom Zanki
At first, Venu Moola thought a local Panera
would make an ideal venue for the first
meeting of Princeton Tech Meetup.
That was March 2012, shortly after he
co-founded the group with colleague Chris
Boraski. But when more than 60 people re-
sponded to an online invitation, Moola was
left looking for a new location in a hurry.
“You can’t hold 60 people at Panera,”
The actual meeting drew about 100,
Moola said, and today, a monthly gath-
ering brings roughly 200 people to the
group’s typical meeting spot, the Princ-
eton Public Library.
There lies a common discovery of
participants of the state’s growing body of
tech meetups: Few realize just how vast
New Jersey’s community of aspiring tech-
nology entrepreneurs is until they congre-
gate under the same roof.
“Clearly there was a need. People were
for networking — plus, people are always
looking for a great speaker,” Moola said.
New Jersey Tech Meetup may be the
state’s most visible network for technology
entrepreneurs, but grassroots associations
to aid startups are sprouting statewide.
Moola said the Princeton group has
largest in New Jersey. In addition, a Jersey
Shore group is helping fill out the Garden
State landscape with about 600 members.
Jersey Shore Tech Meetup founder
Bret Morgan recalls meetings early in the
group’s history — it was founded in 2010
— when only five or 10 people showed up.
Things picked upinOctober2011after
Asbury Agile, an offshoot of Jersey Shore
Tech Meetup, led a Shore-based confer-
ence geared toward Internet and mobile
technology developers. The event sold out,
with 85 attendees and about 20 sponsors.
“We got really great feedback from the
speakers in attendance,” said Morgan, also
co-founder of CoWerks, an Asbury Park
provider of workspace for startups, and
BandsOnABudget.com, a provider of mu-
sic-based apparel and merchandise.
“People said they never realized there
was such a community for this,” Morgan
said. “There is a vibrant scene. It’s just a
matter of providing the right scenery.”
For Moola, who works full time for
Fleet Studio, a consultancy he founded in
2008, nurturing a tech-friendly environ-
ment is especially important in Princeton,
whose prized university has produced
alumni like Jeff Bezos, of Amazon.com,
and Eric Schmidt, of Google.
Problem is, those industry pioneers
took their talents west. Moola says if New
Jersey can educate such talent, it can re-
tain such talent.
“No entrepreneurial ecosystem exists
here in the Princeton area,” Moola said.
“Either they go to Silicon Valley or New
York City. We need a grassroots movement
for creating entrepreneurs here in the
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On Twitter: @biztzanki
by Mary Johnson
The expansion of meetup groups in New
Jersey’s burgeoning tech sector is about
New Jersey Tech Gals, an offshoot of
the New Jersey Tech Meetup, launched in
January, the brainchild of two female en-
trepreneurs with tech startups of their own.
“There’s few women in this industry,”
said Christine Curatolo, who founded
the group with Sarah Himmelbaum.
“Just putting all those women in the same
room together, some cool things have al-
Curatolo studied fashion merchan-
dising at the University of Delaware and
taught herself how to build a website
when she came up with Jumblzar, an on-
line marketplace for moms to buy and sell
new and used children’s items that she
launched earlier this year.
When she needed help expanding her
site, she turned to New Jersey Tech Meet-
up, but very few of the other entrepreneurs
were women. Curatolo and Himmelbaum
wanted Tech Gals to fill that void, provid-
ing an outlet for women to share their ex-
periences and get the support they need to
advance their businesses. Around 45 peo-
ple signed up for the first meeting; Cura-
tolo said membership now is around 200.
Going forward, the group will aim to
have monthly meetups with presentations
from inspirational women in the field, and
vens to create opportunities for internships
and mentorships with female students.
“If you have a tech startup, it’s kind of
a rocky hill,” Curatolo said. “Being in the
room with other women who understand
that and do the same things and can offer
advice, is empowering.”
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On Twitter: @mjohns422
place to pitch services to startups and ap-
“A lot of what we get out of it is name
recognition,” Rosenthal said. “That’s the
priority for us — being right in the middle
of the tech scene, trying to manage and in-
fluence it and present ourselves as a com-
pany that provides a valuable service.”
In the big picture, entrepreneurs say
the meetups are providing an indispens-
tech community, which they say is still in
its infancy compared with Manhattan. New
York City government is widely credited for
offering more robust support, be it through
grants or providing work stations.
But Price said New Jersey is steadily
gaining credibility, which has benefited
his own ventures. An entrepreneur him-
self, Price founded WeCraft, a service that
helps people find craft project ideas and
sells necessary supplies in a bundle, rather
than requiring users to perform scatter-
shot searches for items.
Through the meetups, he found soft-
ware developers, engineers and graphic
designers — critical positions that startup
founders are eager to attract — for We-
Craft. Now, with several of those employ-
ees, Price is launching a new social media
An entrepreneur’s road from conceiv-
deed, fraught with frustration and failure.
But Price said the foundations for a stron-
ger tech community start with networking.
For that purpose, New Jersey Tech Meetup
has succeeded beyond his imagination.
“It’s humbling,” Price said. “It has al-
tered the reality. There is more going on in
the state than people give credit for.”
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Getting to know you
New Jersey Tech Meetup is the largest group in the state — but it’s not the only one. And its Hobo-
ken location can be a tough haul for some. Two other meetups take place in Central Jersey — and an-
other caters specifically to women. Here is a snapshot of New Jersey’s largest tech meetup groups:
New Jersey Tech Meetup
Founder: Aaron Price
Common venue: Stevens Institute of Technology
Princeton Tech Meetup
Founders: Venu Moola and Chris Buraski
Membership: About 1,500
Common Venue: Princeton Public Library
Jersey Shore Tech Meetup
Founder: Bret Morgan
Membership: About 600
Common Venue: CoWerks, in Asbury Park
NEW JERSEY Tech Gals
Founders: Christine Curatolo and
Membership: Around 200
Common venue: Varies
Aaron Price speaks during last month’s Tech Meetup
event. ‘We’re taken much more seriously than we
were three years ago,’ he says. –aaron houston
Sarah Himmelbaum, of Mommies247, networks during the Tech Meetup event at Stevens last month. Him-
melbaum also is a co-founder of an offshoot of the meetup, New Jersey Tech Gals. –aaron houston