Is Brick City the next Silicon Valley?
It started with Audible making Newark its headquarters. Audible Inc. is a seller and producer of spoken audio entertainment, information, and educational programming on the Internet. Audible sells digital audiobooks, radio and TV programs, and audio versions of magazines and newspapers. They launched in 2001 and were acquired by Amazon for $300 million in 2008. It now makes perfect sense for Amazon as their Echo device can now share your favorite book in audio form in the comfort of your own home.
Amazon was forward thinking about its Audible acquisition. Was Audible forward thinking about planting its flag in Newark? As a Rutgers-Newark Alum I saw this coming for years. With NYC rent through the roof. Hotspots like Hoboken and Jersey City real estate increased as a result. So it makes perfect sense for Brick City to be the next hot spot as you have academic talent of Rutgers and NJIT, proximity to NYC and reasonable real estate prices ripe for investment.
One group leading the charge is Fownders who is headed by perennial entrepreneur Gerard Adams (who was co-founder of Elite Daily which sold for close to $50 million to The Daily Mail). According to the Fownders web site, their mission is is to disrupt the paradigm of how entrepreneurs, creatives and the next generation of leaders get the right education, exposure, and self awareness needed to truly leave an impactful legacy. The world we live in now doesn’t play by the same rules determined 20 years ago. Through technology, innovation, human evolution, and the collective higher consciousness the time to do, be, and live the life you want is now”. Fownders works a business incubator for tech start-ups but they get much more than a space and a coffee machine. Gerard personally mentors each of the budding companies as well as brings in top talent to speak and coach these start-ups gaining invaluable advice and support.
When you think start-up culture, you automatically think of Silicon Valley. Even Silicon Alley in NYC is another tech hot bed, but Newark has planted its flag in the tech space and shows no sign of slowing down. Newark Venture Partners is a venture capital fund that helps Newark based technology businesses get off the ground. When they launched, 650 applications were received as they only chose 9 companies to fund and develop. These 9 start-ups are already gaining traction with their roots firmly planted in Newark.
Here is a list of the 3 start-ups that leading the Newark tech Renaissance:
The creators of this cell phone app call it “the best way to take care of your pet when you’re not home.”
Barkly connects pet owners to dog walkers and other local pet service providers that have been vetted and trained. It allows for users to schedule dog walks or request them on demand, and sends owners feedback on what happened, including walk reports, photos, and a GPS map of the walk route. The pet lovers can also exchange payment via the app.
It was founded two years ago by three friends in their mid-20s, and was originally based in Washington, D.C. It has moved operations to Newark to be part of the NVP accelerator class, and all three founders have moved into apartments on Halsey Street.
“We were constantly making sacrifices to take care of our pets,” Chris Gonzalez, a co-founder of Barkly, told NJ Advance Media of how the group got the idea for the app. “Always being entrepreneurial, but never (before) being entrepreneurs, we had a desire to work for ourselves and would spitball ideas constantly. When we got this idea, it was one that we couldn’t shake.”
So far, it is available in four cities – New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., but the founders say they plan to start its expansion into New Jersey next year, lauching it first in Jersey City and Hoboken according to a NJ.com report.