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Co-Founder Discusses Noteworthy Investments, Mistakes Startups Should Avoid

Wayne Tamarelli is one of the people who jump-started JumpStart in 2002. He was already an experienced angel investor when Caren Franzini, then-CEO of the NJ Economic Development Authority, asked him to start an angel investor group with Maxine Ballen, then-president of the New Jersey Technology Council. The founding board chair for JumpStart, Wayne has been a board member during JumpStart’s 20-year history.

What drew you to angel investing?

I have always been obsessed with innovation and entrepreneurship. For 18 years I held senior management positions in public companies in science-based technology industries, including energy, environment, chemicals, metals, and life sciences. My career started in R&D. I then headed corporate planning and new ventures in a Fortune 50 company. Those ventures were both within the global businesses I managed, and also within a standalone global corporate-wide function I also managed. Then I was an entrepreneur for 14 years after I acquired a small advanced materials development and manufacturing company in 1983. I was CEO and sole owner. I built its revenues and profits until I sold it in 1997. Using my experience in running multibillion dollar businesses, followed by my entrepreneurial experiences, I shifted to venture capital investing.

What’s a noteworthy investment you made through JumpStart NJ?

I met a startup CEO who cofounded NeuroFlow Inc. After examining the mission and the management, I decided to invest. I became the lead investor in their first round, and am a board member. Five other JumpStart members joined me in that round. The company has become a technology leader in integrating mental health therapies with physical health providers. Today the company has had two seed rounds, a Series A round and a Series B round. A total of nine JumpStart members are shareholders. The company is growing and has gained a number of high-profile customers in several market sectors.

What is the most common mistake a founder makes when seeking funding?

Failure to understand and satisfy investor needs. It is too common in all stages: identifying the best investor prospects, managing the due diligence process, and aligning interests post-investment.

Advice for someone pitching JumpStart or another angel fund?

Get introduced by a credible third party who knows both the investor and the company. Cold calls don’t work.

How do you spend your free time when not angel investing?

I love to learn about the world through exciting adventures. I have traveled to a great many countries and remote places around the world, often for repeated visits. Along the way, I have found that winemaking and gourmet food attract very interesting people everywhere. This has led me into international investments in vineyards and wine businesses which involve technology innovations, in addition to traditional artistry and creativity.


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