Kindling New Ideas: NJ Spark Summit 2014

by Alon Cohen

CEO Ari Rabban speaking at the NJ Spark Summit

CEO Ari Rabban speaking at the NJ Spark Summit

The brainchild of Aaron Price of the NJ Tech Meetup, Amit Baria of the new-tech school Fuel.am, and Bret Morgan of the Jersey Shore Tech Meetup, NJ Spark Summit hosted prominent speakers discussing strategies for building successful startups.

The conference covered many topics, including a discussion on the future of data security by Dr. Ed Amoroso of AT&T, entrepreneurial advice from attorney David Sorin, and information on entrepreneurial opportunities in the city of Hoboken by Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

Sessions addressed effective crowd funding, offered fundraising strategies from major seed investors and venture capital groups, and discussed upcoming trends for marketing, promotion, public relations and media. Panel members included legal and funding specialists, as well as technologists from Indiegogo, TechCrunch, StartupValley, Techstars NYC and VentureBeat.

Personally, I enjoyed hearing Brett Martin’s experiences working through his failed startup Sonar Media, as well as discussions on how to effectively crowdfund, by Stantt co-founder Matt Hornbuckle, and on the gamification of products by Gabe Zichermann.

Building Engagement Though LiveCube

A truly galvanizing element of Spark Summit was the LiveCube app, co-created by event host Aaron Price, speaker Gabe Zichermann and Justin Schier. Used as the social media aggregator for the event, the big benefit of LiveCube was that it allowed attendees to post and then return later to monitor and engage with content created that day.

Gamifying engagement and offering prizes from sponsors and speakers strongly encouraged NJ Spark Summit attendees to use LiveCube and delivered a memorable meta-experience on top of the conference talk. An added bonus for attendees is LiveCube’s persistence after the event, letting them engage with speakers they did not have time to speak to during the conference.

Plugging Into Phone.com

As a sponsor, Phone.com provided a much-needed service at Spark Summit—a device charging station! Manned by Aaron Rosenthal and myself of Phone.com’s upcoming API, the stylized idea box held USB, Apple and AC charging units to let attendees recharge the devices they were using at the event.

Phone.com CEO Ari Rabban also spoke briefly about the boost that Phone.com provides to startups with our professional, low-cost business phone service. Phone.com also offered a free year of service for attendees of the conference!

Overall, I think NJ Spark Summit was well executed and gave startups, investors and developers the chance to engage with the New Jersey business community. As a young business, we at Phone.com love it when startups reach out and promote each others’ services, thereby encouraging those partners to return the favor down the road. Paying it forward was never so much fun!

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