Edison Partners Opens Princeton Office Doors to Early-Stage Tech Startups

Esther Surden
Publisher & Editor, NJTechWeekly.com

Chris Sugden, Edison Partners managing partner | Courtesy Edison Partners

If you are a New Jersey tech startup that needs a little advice — on how to find a best-fit business-development expert, how to improve your slide deck, how to hone your business model and what steps you should take to prepare to scale, for example — Edison Partners wants to help.

The venture capital group has declared that it will be holding open office hours with its partners twice during the second week of every month. This isn’t an opportunity to pitch for funding. Rather, it’s is an opportunity to pick the brains and harness the expertise of these Princeton-based VCs.

This is somewhat of a departure for Edison, which invests in companies with $5 million to $25 million in revenues, providing $5 million to $12 million in equity investments.

“We wanted to do this before now, but we got busy with finishing raising our most recent fund, which is closing tomorrow,” said Chris Sugden, managing partner. “We moved to Princeton in October, and our goal was to bring the Princeton entrepreneurial community together in a more active way. The [Princeton Tech] meetup is doing a great job. There is Tigerlabs up the street. And we are trying to do our part as well.

“It’s a little bit of pay-it-forward as we try to help entrepreneurs who may not meet our criteria. We can give them some advice with 30 years of experience behind us.” Edison wants to help entrepreneurs and to make Princeton more of a destination for entrepreneurs who want to start businesses and stay here, he added.

How to Best Take Advantage

Sugden told us that the open office hours will work well for entrepreneurs who have a business plan, or have put some slides together and maybe have a product. Edison wants to help early companies, but not companies that are just an idea on the back of the napkin, or that have three ideas and want to know which one the VC likes.

However, “If you are not sure of your business plan, we can give you some advice on that,” he said.

Edison no longer goes to market based on geography, he said. The partners specialize in particular industries. “What the entrepreneurs who take advantage of office hours will want to know is if the partner” that is holding the hours that day “is in my industry or space. If Ryan [Zeigler] is meeting with a fintech company, that will be a waste of his time. But if Ryan is meeting with a marketing-technology or advertising-technology company, that’s in his wheelhouse.” The industries the partners specialize in are listed on the website. Sugden, for example, is a “fintech guy.”

The new open-office-hour approach is a natural progression for the firm, Sugden said. “We have more than 5,000 companies in our database and keep in touch with more than 1,000 a year.” Then Edison talks to about 1,000 companies a year that are new, he said.

 “So we are talking to companies about their early-stage business development efforts all the time. You never know which ones are going to pop. …We are giving back a little bit, but it’s not all altruistic because we believe there may be a couple of founders we’ll meet in this process that we’ll wind up backing at some point.”

Princeton is a great area in which to start a business, Sugden continued. “We have a lot of smart people in the area, with Princeton, Rutgers, Rider all here. As one of the larger funds in town, we wanted to make ourselves available to businesses.”

The mentoring sessions will work this way: A different partner will be available at each of the sessions listed on the website. So, you’ll know whom you’ll be speaking to on any given day.

Sugden noted that some of the partners already angel invest, and several mentor young companies in their free time. “Kelly Ford Buckley, on our team, mentors the Kitchen Twins,” the young sisters who have an online cooking empire. Princeton-based Theia Senior Solutions uses the Edison offices as kind of a coworking place, and the founder “sometimes hits us up for advice in the hallways.”

Two founders whose companies are based in New York use the Edison space all the time when they are in New Jersey. Sugden noted that, when Edison moved to Princeton, they thought they might create an incubator, but “we didn’t want to get too far removed from our day job.”

New Jersey Investment Climate

NJTechWeekly.com asked Sugden about the investment climate in New Jersey. “Three of our biggest wins ever have been in New Jersey," he said, citing three Bedminster firms: Dendrite,  which formerly provided software to the huge sales forces of pharmaceutical companies; GAIN Capital, a leader in online trading technology; and Premier Health Exchange, now part of Zelis Healthcare (also in Bedminster), which offers advanced network and cost-management solutions for health plans. "We’ve had great success here. I’d venture to say that New Jersey is number one or two of all the states we’ve done business in.”

As a “fintech guy,” Sugden noted that New Jersey has a “big advantage in capital markets and the backups for Wall Street. I see financial technology deals all the time in New Jersey.” He also said that New Jersey, and the East Coast in general, continues to be where the customers are. “There are a lot of big buyers in New Jersey or in New York, so being in New Jersey gives you access to pharma, large retail, telecommunications companies, cable companies, etc.”

Another thing New Jersey has going for it is the talent advantage, said Sugden. “Candidly, the talent advantage” is great. New Jersey is expensive and it’s not cheap to live here, “but people want to live here and they do live here and it’s a really smart, educated population. We see startups able to recruit talent that a lot of times no longer want to do the New York commute.” He added that, as companies begin to grow, they’ll be able to find middle management and executive talent right here.

Esther Surden is Publisher and Editor of NJTechWeekly, and a contributor to Philly Tech News. This article originally appeared in NJTechWeekly, and is republished here with her permission.

Ardian & GHO Capital team with Envision leadership to acquire the Envision Pharma Group from the Halifax Group

Ardian & GHO Capital team with Envision leadership to acquire the Envision Pharma Group from the Halifax Group
Jul 6, 2016
Ardian & GHO Capital team with Envision leadership to acquire the Envision Pharma Group from the Halifax Group

Ardian, the independent private investment company, in collaboration with GHO Capital, the specialist European investor in healthcare, has partnered with the Envision Pharma Group’s (“Envision”) leadership team to acquire Envision, a leading Medical Affairs-focused scientific communications and technology solutions provider, from the Halifax Group. The management team and employees, led by Brian Hepburn (CEO and founder), Greg Caswill (Chairman and founder), John Gillie (CFO), and Joseph Brown (President Envision Technology Solutions; ETS), will be reinvesting and continuing to lead the business in the next evolution of its growth.

Operating globally, Envision is a recognized partner to the Medical Affairs organizations providing scientific data communication services and industry-leading technology solutions to biopharmaceutical and medical devices companies on a global basis. Envision assists its clients in supporting the commercialization of new compounds via strategic data-communication planning, medical writing, medical communications services, and providing best-in-class technology solutions across the key operational functions of Medical Affairs.

Since inception in 2001, Envision has enjoyed strong year-on-year organic growth of c.20%. In addition to this organic growth, Envision has recently made two strategic acquisitions: ProScribe − extending their global reach into the Asia-Pacific region; and the Alligent Group − expanding their range of medical communication services to fully support their data continuum strategy across Medical Affairs functions. Envision has also launched several new solutions, including: Medical Information, HEOR Portfolio Management, and the Medical Affairs Library, which enhance the suite of solutions focused on Medical Affairs operational excellence.

These acquisitions and solution expansions further bolster Envision’s capabilities and build upon the range of service and solution offerings, which, in addition to publication planning and delivery, have grown to encompass medical strategy consultancy, Market Access communications, medical communications & MSL support, digital and creative services, and policy and operational excellence consultancy.

Envision’s unique position within the growing market of outsourced Medical Affairs services is underpinned by seamlessly marrying unparalleled scientific and industry expertise with a range of purpose-built, technology solutions that facilitate knowledge-sharing, operational excellence and decision-making effectiveness.

Datavision® is the industry standard solution for compliant publication planning, execution and management. However, the range of innovative and strategic management software, purpose-built for life-science clients has also expanded to provide support for our newer service offerings in Medical Affairs and Market Access:

Library™ – Efficient access management of approved for use scientific materials across the enterprise. Provides easy sharing and multi-faceted search capabilities, notifies users of new material for release, expiration of material, and when new content becomes available based on a user’s profile.

Visiontracker® – The industry-leading, web-enabled software application to manage all global independent investigator trial (clinical, non-clinical, and collaborations), medical education, and charity programs.

Medinfo™ – The complete, next-generation global medical information solution that will change the way your company shares information and gathers insights.

Clear® – A purpose-built solution to facilitate the compliant, efficient, and appropriate evaluation of all scientific materials targeted for disclosure.

Visiontracker HEOR™ – The complete workflow solution to manage your HEOR project portfolio including project evaluation and approval, vendor management, HQ and country transparency, and financial management.

In line with our goal to facilitate efficient knowledge-sharing, operational excellence, and decision-making capabilities across Medical Affairs and executives in global life-science organizations, we are launching the new iEnvisionTM Medical Affairs platform. The primary objective of iEnvisionTM is to provide a suite of purpose-built solutions to facilitate/support industry best practice within the Medical Affairs organization. The iEnvisionTM suite enables effective communication and monitoring of the plans, consistency for reporting and KPI metrics, and establishes consistent and auditable controls for compliance purposes. Our new Library™ and Medinfo™ solutions are available now, and our existing classic solutions are being moved to the platform during 2016 (Visiontracker®) and 2017 (Datavision® and Clear®), with additional complementary solutions already being designed.

Regarding the importance of the iEnvisionTM platform, Joseph Brown, President of ETS, said “The iEnvisionTM platform and modules, through collaboration with our client partners, is a cornerstone to help support the future Medical Affairs operational model. iEnvisionTM will enhance a Medical Affairs team’s efficiency and quality, improve global effectiveness and alignment by connecting HQ and country operations, reduce costs by improving global scalability and facilitating the concept of a Medical Affairs center of excellence, and improve overall decision-making by creating a ‘data forward’ line of sight across Medical Affairs. The partnership with Ardian and GHO enables us to enhance our already significant investment in the platform in terms of both transitioning our existing solutions to iEnvisionTM and bringing additional new solutions, purpose-built to support Medical Affairs business needs, to market in a timely and efficient manner.”

Brian Hepburn, CEO of Envision, said “This partnership with Ardian and GHO Capital provides the resources, expertise, and market knowledge for Envision to realize the next stage of its development and become the leading solution provider to the Medical Affairs departments within the biopharmaceutical industry. We are uniquely positioned to support our clients via our in-depth, strategically focused, scientific communication capabilities in combination with our expanding range of technology solutions that support compliant and transparent communication of scientific evidence. With the support of Ardian and GHO Capital, we will continue to invest in these core competencies and further extend the market reach of our enterprise technology platform, iEnvisionTM.”

Simon Cottle, Managing Director of Ardian Mid Cap Buyout in London, said “After analyzing the outsourced Medical Affairs services and software market, we identified Envision as having the highest potential for further growth. Their management team has done a great job in creating a market-leading proposition and we look forward to working with them in the next stage of the business’ development.”

Bruno Ladriere, Managing Director of Ardian Mid Cap Buyout in London, added “We believe that Ardian’s transparent management-centric culture, coupled with our global ability to support development through organic and external growth, were the key elements in winning the support of Envision’s management and executing this acquisition.”

Mark Branganza, Partner at GHO Capital, added “Envision is a high growth company operating in the attractive healthcare outsourced services sub-sector with a strong platform and an international, blue-chip customer base. The opportunity to partner with Ardian and the management team, allowing us to pool our significant expertise in consulting and healthcare IT, was therefore extremely compelling for our fund. We look forward to our partnership in supporting the next phase of Envision’s continued growth.”

About Envision

Founded in 2001, Envision Pharma is an international, innovative global technology and scientific communication company serving pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies. Initially focusing on re-inventing the way biopharma companies managed their global data communications programs through the use of smart technology and best-in-class publication planning; Envision has evolved to become a leading provider of evidence communication services and Medical Affairs solutions encompassing all aspects of scientifically driven data dissemination activities required to support a successful access to market strategy for new biopharma compounds.

This capability of the organization is further enhanced with industry-leading, complementary technology solutions across the Medical Affairs responsibilities. Envision has grown steadily under consistent leadership across its three core business areas in support of the Medical Affairs team that include (i) Evidence Communication – including strategic publication planning, data dissemination services, medical education, and Market Access communications; (ii) Technology Solutions – design, development, implementation, and support of innovative and strategic management software, purpose-built for life-science clients, including, publication planning and management (Datavision®), clearance approval (Clear®), activity request management (Visiontracker®), workflow management for HEOR activities (Visiontracker HEORTM), searchable repository for the sharing of appropriate educational and training materials (LibraryTM), and next generation solution for managing medical information enquiries (MedinfoTM); (iii) Consulting Solutions – policy, process, compliance, and guideline consultancy to life-science companies.

Envision currently has ten offices, three in the United Kingdom – Horsham, Wilmslow, and London; five in the United States – Philadelphia, PA, Southport, CT, Madison, NJ, Stirling, NJ, Glastonbury, CT; and two in Asia Pacific – Tokyo and Sydney. The company employs approximately 450 team members, including over 185 highly qualified and experienced in-house medical writers and a more than 80-strong technology solutions team providing platform development and customer support. Envision currently provides service and product solutions to more than 75 client companies, including 18 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies.

About Ardian

Ardian, founded in 1996 and led by Dominique Senequier, is an independent private investment company with assets of US$55bn managed or advised in Europe, North America, or Asia. The company, which is majority-owned by its employees, keeps entrepreneurship at its heart and delivers investment performance to its global investors while fuelling growth in economies across the world. Ardian’s investment process embodies three values: excellence, loyalty, and entrepreneurship.

Ardian maintains a truly global network, with more than 410 employees working through twelve offices in Paris, London, Frankfurt, Milan, Madrid, Zurich, New York, San Francisco, Beijing, Singapore, Jersey, and Luxembourg. The company offers its 470 investors a diversified choice of funds covering the full range of asset classes through Ardian Direct Funds (comprising Ardian Mid Cap Buyout, Ardian Expansion, Ardian Growth, and Ardian Co-Investment), Ardian Infrastructure, Ardian Funds of Funds (comprising primary, early secondary, and secondary activities), Ardian Private Debt, Ardian Real Estate, and customized mandate investment solutions with Ardian Mandates.

About GHO Capital

Global Healthcare Opportunities, or GHO Capital Partners LLP, was founded in 2014 as a specialist healthcare investment adviser based in London. Its vision is to apply global capabilities and perspectives to build a world-class healthcare specialist private equity firm by recognising and seizing the highly attractive and underpenetrated European market opportunity. GHO Capital has a powerful combination of transaction, investment, and industry skills which sets it apart from traditional private equity firms. For further information please visit www.ghocapital.com.
Envision Pharma Group logo

There's more to life than just software, ex-Plex Systems CEO & founder Beatty finds out (repost)

Tom Paine

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Robert Beatty / LinkedIn

Robert Beatty founded and headed the cloud manufacturing ERP company Plex Systems (not to be confused with the home media player). Based in Michigan, (Beatty attended Michigan State) Plex did much of its early work in auto-related industries. Its primary investors today are Francisco Partners and Accel Partners, and in June 2014  Plex secured $50 million in financing from institutional and hedge funds managed by T. Rowe Price, at a reported $500 million valuation. The company would like to IPO if market conditions are right; it certainly could be an acquisition candidate for a large ERP vendor that wants to strengthen its application's connection to the shop floor, a concept that is hot right now.

But Beatty is no longer with Plex. He left as CEO in 2006, though remaining as Chairman until 2012. His immediate reason for leaving was a family health issue (now fortunately under control), but once removed from the day-to-day grind he began to follow his desire to write again, which was suppressed by the exhaustion bought on by 70 to 80 hour work weeks (a feeling many of us have known.) The family decided to move and settled on Asheville, NC, alternatively known as the "Paris of the South" or a mountain oasis, with a good bit of Appalachian backwardness mixed in.

Here the script of his life takes another interesting turn. Beatty works on writing to an adult audience, struggling somewhat, but a daughter pushes him to try writing something for kids or the "tweener" audience, portraying a young girl as a heroine. His Serafina and the Black Cloak, published in mid-July, is the story of a young girl who wanders the enormous Biltmore Estate in Asheville and faces up to a potentially dangerous mystery. The novel became a New York Times Bestseller in the first week of its release. Its published by Disney's Hyperion, which leads to questions about whether a movie will follow (they've already produced a trailer for the book):

Meanwhile, Beatty, 51, maintains some business interests, including a firm he founded called Beatty Robotics, based in Asheville. He told an area newspaper he has the go-ahead from Hyperion for two more titles.

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