Tech Council Ventures

The Power Of Networked Capital




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Tech Council Ventures is a top performing venture fund investing in early and expansion stage companies across all industries in the Mid-Atlantic region. The fund invests $500K to $2.5M initially and provides additional support throughout the growth of the business. The fund is affiliated with one of the largest and
most active technology councils in the U.S.; the NJ Tech Council, providing to its portfolio investments an unmatched network of customer, key team recruits, business partner and service provider connections.

Tech Council Ventures II is the successor fund to Tech Council Ventures I, whose investment returns in the US rank in the top 1% for the asset class. The principals of Tech Council Ventures have 75+ years investing and building promising, rapid growth companies.

The Fund was created by the NJ Tech Council to provide expansion capital to the region’s rapid growth entrepreneurs and capitalize on the fertile ecosystem. With $130 million under management, Tech Council Ventures has created a number of the region’s most visible successes.

Our experienced investment team is comprised of two Managing Partners, Jim Gunton and Steve Socolof, along with Entrepreneur in Residence, Mark Kolb.

Jim Gunton invested in privately-held growth technology companies for more than 20 years. Before co-founding in 2001 the $80 million NJTC Venture Fund (now known as Tech Council Ventures Fund I), Jim was a partner at Edison Venture Fund and a manager at Oracle Corporation in the Silicon Valley. He served formerly as a Governor of the National Association of Small Business Investment Companies (NASBIC).

Jim earned a BS from Stanford University and an MBA with distinction from Duke University. He has served on the board of numerous private and public companies including Achieve3000, Amber Road (NYSE: AMBR), CytoSorbents (NASDAQ: CTSO), InstaMed, IntegriChain and CareGain.

Steve Socolof has been a technology investor for over 20 years. Steve’s interests are in enterprise software (particularly applications of AI/ML), infrastructure required to collect, store, and process data, internet of things, wireless, and environmental and materials technologies. He is currently on the board of StratIS IoT, SunRay Scientific, and Vydia as well as the public company Everspin Technologies, an investment of his prior fund.

He was recently a director of Airclic (sold to Descartes Systems), Alverix (sold to BD), Neohapsis (sold to Cisco), Silicon Hive (sold to Intel), Sychip (sold to Murata), and an observer of Flarion Technologies (sold to Qualcomm). Steve has also been a leader in the corporate venture community and was Chair of the Corporate Venture Group within the National Venture Capital Association and on the Advisory Board of Global Corporate Venturing.

Prior to Tech Council Ventures, he created a venture incubator for Lucent’s Bell Laboratories for 5 years and then formed and ran New Venture Partners for 15 years investing in commercialization of technologies spun out of corporate labs. Steve received an MBA from The Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College where he is currently on the board of the Center for the Study of VC & PE. He received degrees in economics and mathematical sciences from Stanford University

Mark Kolb is an entrepreneur focused on the health care industry. Before joining Tech Council Ventures, he was the CEO of Bergen Medical Products. Prior to that he was running BKHealth where he and his partner were issued two patents for a physical therapy robot. At Dynamic Clinical Systems, he joined as Board Chair, transitioned to CEO and then repositioned the company for a sale to Press Ganey. Earlier he founded the life sciences consulting firm Taratec Development Corporation. There he raised venture capital and led its significant growth before selling the company to Patni Computer Systems, one of India’s largest IT firms. Serving then as a senior vice president at Patni, he led their global life science business. Along the way, Mark has consulted to early stage technology companies, supporting them in planning, finance, operations and fund raising.

Mark has served on a number of corporate and non-profit boards, including Taratec, Dynamic Clinical Systems, Moda Technology Partners, the Somerset Medical Center and the NJ Tech Council. Mark currently chairs the board of Dorsata and serves on the Optima Global Solutions Advisory Board and the NJ Economic Development Authority Technology Advisory Board. He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame and attended the OPM program at Harvard Business School. Jim Gunton says “Talent goes where there are well-funded and promising companies. I have seen companies go where they are able to get funding. Well funded companies attract the best people. Those companies are the most likely to succeed. Then you grow and exit, and create a self-perpetuating dynamic. It is vital to the New Jersey economy — and exciting to watch it happen.

Looking ahead, each economic cycle is defined uniquely. The 2020 climate includes abundant capital with high valuations and a welcoming market for exits and liquidity. How do the partners evaluate new investment prospects?

First, continue to be influenced by lessons gained from prior successes and failures.

Second, Tech Council Ventures II seeks opportunity of all types and industries, including those flawed or previously unsuccessful where regulatory, personnel, competitive or balance sheet change might yield a better outcome.

Third, welcome niche opportunity that is appropriately priced and capital efficient – in contrast to a venture industry that more typically targets large markets.

Tech Council Ventures also seeks less trodden situations where innovation has the potential to unlock consumer enthusiasm.

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