Newark Venture Partners Continues to Grow Newark Tech Ecosystem, Despite Coronavirus 

A new group of startups have joined the Newark tech ecosystem, as part of Newark Venture Partners (NVP) 8th NVP Labs cohort. Cumulatively, the class represents an investment of over $1.2 million by NVP, and includes 2 startups currently based in Newark, and 2 more who have committed to relocating their headquarters to Newark in the coming months. 

The companies which include ABF Creative, Clearstep, FleetOps, Optimal Dynamics,, VendX, Vikar Technologies, were chosen from a pool of over 2,800 startups. The companies hail from Newark, Old Bridge, Short Hills, and Princeton, New Jersey, as well as New York City, Chicago, Illinois and Toronto, Canada. The 12 week program kicked off with remote sessions on sales, fundraising, and communications during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m thrilled about the quality of companies in this class as NVP doubles down on its commitment to attracting the next Audibles to Newark to create jobs and taxable revenue for the city,” said Don Katz, Audible founder and executive chairman, and the founder of NVP.  “These companies will have access to the incredible domain expertise of Audible and our corporate partners, and they’ll see firsthand the profound business and moral case for being part of this urban comeback story.”

“NVP invests in founders that are motivated by problem solving. Over the past few weeks, as the coronavirus pandemic has really developed - we’ve seen our Newark based startups run straight at the problems within the public health crisis and make a real tangible difference.  Not only are they growing their businesses and sustaining local jobs, but they are doing meaningful work at an uncertain time,” said Tom Wisniewski, Managing Partner at Newark Venture Partners. “Our new NVP Labs cohort has that solution-orientated mindset, and we are excited to bring them into our community.”

This class will be primarily virtual for the majority of the program, due to the current public health guidelines.  Founders include former employees of Google, Spotify, Dropbox, and a former Princeton professor, as well as 4 female founders and 4 founders of color. The companies represent healthtech, supply chain tech, voice and fintech verticals.  This cohort raises the number of companies in NVP’s portfolio to 82.

“This cohort is hyper focused on enterprise software within healthtech, supply chain and voice tech verticals.  Our LP’s play an important part in our diligence process, sharing their expertise and insights on market problems and solutions. Their feedback is essential to our investment process and their mentorship and guidance gives our portfolio companies an advantage as they get to scale,” said Dan Borok, Managing Partner of NVP.

Selected companies include: 

  • ABF Creative is a one-stop-shop advocacy platform for the minority podcast producer to create, distribute and monetize content across all of the major streaming platforms. Brand advertisers are able to contract with ABF Creative to get sizable reach to this unique and valuable audience. Founded by Anthony Frasier in Newark, NJ
  • Clearstep is an AI-driven virtual triage and care-routing chat tool that uses simple dialogue to understand patients' needs and then connects them to the appropriate care with complete transparency around out-of-pocket costs and reviews. The Clearstep solution allows care providers to better engage with and convert patients, and is a solution for health insurers who are looking to guide members to cost-efficient, in-network care. Founded by Adeel Malik, David Zbarsky, Peter Garber, and Bilal Naved in Chicago, IL and New York, NY.
  • is an end-to-end audio platform built in collaboration with creators, for creators. Sounder is a one-stop-shop that lets creators host their podcasts, distribute them, make them discoverable, and get paid for their craft—no matter how large or small their audience.  Founded by Kal Amin and Daniel Daugherty in New York, NY
  • Vikar Technologies’ Client Lifecycle Management (“CLM”) and Loan Onboarding and Servicing solutions provide digital transformation and workflow automation for the front, middle and back office at banks and wealth management firms. Their enterprise software onboards and maintains clients and loans in a complete, end to end digital experience.   The company is led by Co-Founder Glenn Bolstad and headquartered in Old Bridge, NJ
  • VendX delivers a completely customized, interactive, touch-screen vending machine experience for consumers - complete with prizes, giveaways or purchase options - while delivering valuable consumer insight and data to the partner brand.  Brought to life by the award-winning team at InCharged and the innovators behind the LuxUVC disinfectant technology. Founded by Jessica Gonzalez in Newark, NJ.
  • FleetOps works with fleet brokers to give direct access to available and vetted drivers, via exclusive access with mandated telematics companies. FleetOps produces insights to match supply with demand, and uses the power of market liquidity to fill partially-full trucks, identify backhaul opportunities and win more business. Founded by Chris Atkinson in Toronto, Canada
  • Optimal Dynamics was founded to bring breakthrough technology called High Dimensional AI to automate and optimize the logistics and supply chain industry. It helps companies optimize assets while managing third party capacity, enabling true dynamic planning and highly automated operations. Founded by Daniel Powell and Warren Powell in Princeton, NJ 

“We expect the execution support in sales will be especially valuable, given the current business climate, and we are integrating more virtual events,” said Allison Williams, Director of NVP Labs. “But despite the pandemic and changing investment landscape, our mission is the same: find and fund the most promising entrepreneurs in the B2B space, and give them roots in Newark.”

Admission to the program includes an initial investment of a minimum $125,000, space within NVP’s coworking offices, housed in the same building as Audible and Rutgers Business School, as well as guidance from an in house growth team and robust mentorship network.  The fund’s corporate partners, Audible (an Amazon Company), Dun & Bradstreet, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, Panasonic Corporation of North America, Prudential Financial, RWJBarnabas, TD Bank, Fidelco Realty Group, and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority are especially engaged with NVP Labs companies, providing market-based insight, technology assistance, and high level networking opportunities.  At the close of the 12-week program, NVP guarantees a minimum additional $100,000 follow on funding to participants in their next fundraising round, and potential to receive up to $2 million from its direct funding arm.

During the program, founders have access to the program’s full time Growth Director, a Sales Advisor, Finance and PR professionals and a team of entry level sales development reps (BDRs) to assist in outbound prospecting. The program aims to guide the companies to achieve in-depth strategic plans and scalable marketing and sales operations.  The NVP mission is to help innovative entrepreneurs build distinctive B2B tech companies while catalyzing the technology ecosystem in the City of Newark. 

NVP Labs Spring 2020

About Newark Venture Partners

Newark Venture Partners is a leading early stage venture capital firm with a Limited Partner base that includes top corporate investors Audible (an Amazon Company), The Dodge Foundation, Dun & Bradstreet, Fidelco Realty Group, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, Panasonic Corporation of North America, Prudential Financial, RWJBarnabas, TD Bank, and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.  Our full time sales, strategy and development teams help innovative entrepreneurs build distinctive B2B technology companies while catalyzing growth in the City of Newark.   Newark Venture Partners includes a direct investment arm, investing up to $2 million in Seed and Series A companies, and our bridge-to-seed accelerator arm, NVP Labs, which invests in up to 10 companies twice a year. For more information visit

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