2014 Awardee:Mario Casabona, Founder and CEO, TechLaunch
Mario emigrated from the town of Cerami in Sicily, Italy when he was five. His father was a barber and his mother a seamstress, and they both instilled in him a strong work ethic that only an immigrant can understand. You work harder, better, longer than anyone else.
Mario began his career as an RF design engineer for ITT Avionics but it wasn’t long before his entrepreneurial spirit took over when he developed and patented a piece of technology that was considered a noteworthy national security product. In 1982, he went on to form his own company, Electro-Radiation, Inc. (ERI), growing it into a business that employed dozens of engineers and dealt with high level national security programs for the Military. Specifically, ERI was a developer of Radar, Navigation and Communications technology and equipment for the Defense industry. Mario turned that company into a nationally recognized entity that was ultimately sold to Honeywell International in 2004. As an Electrical Engineer, he is named in 12 national and international patents in the field of satellite-based navigation and communications.
When Mario sold ERI, Inc. to Honeywell he simply could have relaxed, and reaped his rewards. Instead, he opted to use his life experience to give back to others who have the same entrepreneurial spirit as he. In 2007 he founded Casabona Ventures, providing Executive Coaching, Strategic Planning, and early-stage Private Equity financing to technology focused companies. He has invested in over 20 startups and enjoys participating in New Jersey’s technology ecosystem.”
In 2012 he founded TechLaunch LLC, NJ’s Investor led Technology Accelerator which provides seed capital, co-working space, business training, mentors, and access to investors to aspiring technology oriented entrepreneurs. In less than three years of operation the TechLaunch team has launched and provided seed capital to 26 new Companies and has mentored over 65 entrepreneurs. Startup categories include Social Media, WebTech, eCommerce, Machine to Machine, and Internet of Things.
In 2014, he was named one of New Jersey’s top 5 most influential people in Technology by the Star Ledger and he was recognized by the NJ Business Incubator Network for his contributions to NJ’s business community. In 2013 the New Jersey Technology Council recognized Mario as the Legend of Technology and in 2010 as Financier of the Year. He served as Chairman of Jumpstart New Jersey Angel Network from 2009 to 2013, one of the premier Angel groups in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Mario was also honored as the Man of the Year in 2009 by the Center for Italian and Italian-American Culture. In 2004 Mario was appointed by Gov. McGreevy to the NJ Commission on Science &Technology. In 1998, he was awarded the SBA National Tibbett’s Award which recognizes contributions in technology.
He is also on the advisory board of the Stevens Institute of Technology Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Rothman Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies; Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business; Montclair State University’s College of Science and Mathematics; and Einstein Alley.
2013 Awardee: Jay Kulkarni, Founder & CEO, Theorem
Jay Kulkarni immigrated to the United States from India after completing his engineering degree to pursue an MBA at the New York Institute of Technology. After graduating he accepted a job at a start up called DoubleClick in 1997 and went on to build some of their highest grossing revenue products at the company.
In 2002, Kulkarni quit his job at the height of his professional career curve and took a leap of faith during the middle of the recession to incubate, with his own savings, Theorem, a company pioneering in offering specialized services to the internet advertising domain.
Kulkarni crafted a global team based in US and in India, trained the work force in new emerging technologies and built a sales team in the US, while at the same time re-investing most of the company’s profits in infrastructure including office space, bandwidth, ramping up teams and procuring client testimonials.
Theorem offers leading edge services to internet advertisers and digital marketers. Their work involves understanding products and business models in digital advertising, social media, mobile technologies and managing the overall transformation of media in general.
Founded and headquartered in New Jersey, with offices in UK, Dominican Republic and India, Theorem taps global talent to deliver world class services on a 24-7 basis. Theorem was profitable within a year of founding and now supports over 150 clients with offices in 4 continents. Under Jay’s leadership, Theorem has averaged 35% YOY growth since its inception in 2002 and now employees 1300 people.
Across its global offices, Theorem contributes to many local charities. In India they have adopted Pratham, in Mysore, Indian, where they are sponsoring a training center in Mysore India. Theorem also has a 5 acre Campus and a strong team of over 1000 people.
For the past 5 years, Theorem has sponsored the FIRST Robotics teams at East Side High in Newark, NJ in their robotic competitions.
In addition they have contributed to Grameen Bank and Feeding America, where Jay is on the advisory board, and other charitable organizations on a regular basis in response to natural disasters.