Investor Opportunities in Mobile Technology, Consumer Products Focus of Back-to-Back Conferences

It is described as “the Biggest and Most Disruptive Platform in Human History,” by William Davidson, Senior Vice President of Qualcomm.  Davidson will be the keynote speaker Wednesday in New Haven at “Connecticut Mobile Summit – Exploring Mobile Venture Opportunities and Challenges.”  Connecticut’s top mobile industry executives will be meeting to discuss how to accelerate mobile adoption, engagement and monetization, according to conference organizers.

Conference officials note that “penetration of smart phones into the workplace has been persistent since the iPhone launch in June of 2007. More recently, tablets have supplanted PCs as productivity boosters.”  The Connecticut Mobile Summit is designed to help educate Connecticut’s investment and technology communities in mobile venture opportunities and challenges.

mobile summittIn addition to Davidson, expert panelists participating include Carissa Ganelli, Founder & CEO, LightningBuy; Drue Hontz, Founder & President, KAZARK, Inc.; John Nobile, Founder & President, Tangen Biosciences; and Nadav Ullman, Founder & CEO, Dashride.

“In three to five years any enterprise that has not implemented mobility solutions for its customers, employees, and suppliers will be leapfrogged, disintermediated, or go bankrupt. Connecticut cannot afford to be behind this curve,” observed event moderator, Brenda Lewis, Principal of Transactions Marketing, Inc.

Davidson is senior vice presidemobile-technologynt of strategy and operations for Global Market Development in Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. In this role, he handles reporting and operations as well as executing on strategic global business initiatives. In addition, Davidson is senior vice president of investor relations where he serves as the primary liaison with the investment community and Qualcomm shareholders. Davidson has more than 25 years of experience in technical sales, marketing and general management roles in the telecommunications industry.

The half-day conference is being presented by the Connecticut Technology Council, Crossroads Venture Group and AT&T. The event is supported by Mea Mobile.

Opening remarks will come from Bruce Carlson, Acting CEO & President of the Connecticut Technology Council, Liddy Karter, Executive Director of Crossroads Venture Group, and Claire Leonardi, CEO of the recently re-branded Connecticut Innovations.  The event is $40 for members of the Connecticut Technology Council and Crossroads Venture Group, $50 for non-members.

The following day, the Northeast Consumer Product Conference will be held in Stamford, with the Connecticut Technology Council and Crossroads Venture Group joined by the Connecticut chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) as sponsors.  The conference is described as the Northeast’s largest ‘mergers and acquisitions’ conference focused on early state and middle market consumer-facing companies.  It brings together operators, buyers, investors, and transaction professionals to discuss the challenges and opportunities within consumer industries.

The Stamford conference will include expert-led panels reviewing the state of the capital markets and share strategies for consumer marketing in a digital world, for both early and late stage firms.

Keynote presentation will be from Mike McMahon, President, Spire, a Datalogix company.  Panelists for a session on “Raising Capital in Today's Environment,”  to be moderated by Ramsey Goodrich, Managing Director, Carter Morse & Mathias, include Richard Baum, Managing Partner, Consumer Growth, Partners; Christopher Bradley, Principal, Mistral Equity Partners; and Tom Hayes, MaACGnaging Partner & Principal, New England Consulting Group.

ACG CT President Karin (McKittrick) Kovacic said, “This conference brings together owners and managers with investors and transaction professionals to discuss the challenges and opportunities within the consumer products sectors.”

The Connecticut Chapter of ACG is one of the fastest growing ACG chapters in the country, with close to 300 local professionals focused on middle-market corporate growth (i.e.: mergers and acquisitions, financing opportunities, business development, joint ventures, licensing arrangements, etc.), including a diverse group of private equity funds, intermediaries, lenders, and service providers.

The Connecticut Technology Council (CTC) is a statewide association of technology oriented companies and institutions, providing leadership in areas of policy advocacy, community building and assistance for growing companies.  With over 2,000 member companies that employ some 200,000 residents, the CTC works to position Connecticut as a leader in idea creation, workforce preparation, entrepreneurial aptitude, early stage risk capital availability and providing on-going support and mentoring to high potential firms.

Volatility Seen by High Net Worth Investors; Connecticut Views Differ From Region, Nation

Connecticut’s high net worth investors, coming off a year of substantial profits from Wall Street, remain optimistic, if cautious, about 2014.  There are, however, distinct differences in how and where they view investment opportunities, as compared with investors nationwide, and even compared with those in neighboring New York and New Jersey.

A newly released survey conducted for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, found that high net worth investors – those with $100,000 or more in investable household financial assets – were both realistic and optimistic about the immediate investment horizon, according to Bradley Barber, Executive Director and Family Wealth Director for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management serving coastal Connecticut, based in Greenwich.Bradley Barber low res

The survey reflects “cautious optimism,” Barker said, indicating that investors understand that the 30 percent returns of 2013 are not likely to be repeated this year, but that potential remains for solid gains.  “It’s a time to navigate the waters, not pull in the oars,” Barber told Connecticut by the Numbers.  “It is a market of stocks, not a stock market.  The high net worth investors surveyed were prescient about the volatility in the market we’ve seen since the first of the year.”

In the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region, 86 percent of high net worth individuals said they expect their investment portfolios to be “better” or “the same” at year-end, and 84 percent believe their financial well-being will be the same or better.  At the same time, three-quarters of respondents said they were concerned about stock market volatility.  Among the top concerns of investors in the region are U.S. economic prospects (86%) and the federal budget deficit (83%).

Views on Industry Investment Potential Vary

There were also marked differences in the perceptions of investment potential for various sectors of the economy.  Those most favored as “good” investments nationally were technology (79% nationally, 72% in CT), energy (77% nationally, 66% in CT), bio-technology (63% nationally, 67% in CT), and pharmaceuticals (56% nationally, 61% in CT).  Connecticut policy makers have devoted financial resources to strengthening the state’s bio-technology industry in recent years, which may have contributed to the stronger upbeat attitudes here towards the sector as an attractive investment option.

The rocky national roll-out of the affordable health care act, and its comparatively smooth path in Connecticut, may also have been reflected in the survey findings.  Unlike the national results, thosmorgan stanleye surveyed in the tri-state area viewed healthcare among the favored sectors for 2014 - 55% “good” in the tri-state region vs. only 45% nationally.

Other industry sectors that have a strong presence in the state and region, however, did not fare as well.  Aerospace was seen as a “good” investment choice by only 25 percent of those surveyed, both nationally and in the tri-state region.  Insurance was viewed favorably by only 30 percent of high net worth investors, both in the region and nationwide.  Those numbers, Barber said, should be “concerning” for Connecticut’s economic prospects.

Factors Close to Home of Greater Concern

Overall, the survey indicates that Connecticut’s high net worth investors have more concerns about internal factors, while New York residents expressed greater concerns regarding external factors, such as the possibility of terrorism or foreign entanglements.  Connecticut investors were more concerned than their regional and national counterparts with regard to their families’ financial well-being or the ability to have sufficient funds to retire in their region of the country.  While 53 percent of those in Atlanta and 59 percent nationally expressed concern over their families financial well-being, in the tri-state region seven in ten (70%) expressed that concern, with the highest numbers in the region in Connecticut.

optimisticConnecticut’s high net worth investors, Barber said, are a savvy lot, reflecting greater knowledge of investments than the national numbers reflect, yet more than 7 in 10 say they consult financial professionals.  Another clear distinction came in the percentage of investors who said dividend-bearing stocks are a good investment:  49 percent nationally, 61 percent in the tri-state area, and 71 percent in Connecticut.  “There are clear indications that Connecticut’s high net worth investors are focused on opportunity,” Barber said.

High net worth investors, overall, are bullish on America.  In the tri-state region 61 percent of those polled said the U.S. was their first choice for a positive investment outlook for 2014, even higher than the 52 percent who expressed that view nationally. There were also differences across the country in the issues of particular concern to high net worth investors.  Regarding terrorism, 82 percent in the tri-state area, 66 percent in San Francisco and 63 percent in Denver indicated concerns, for example.

As part of the national survey of 1,004 US investors, age 25 to 75, with $100,000 or more in investable household financial assets, an oversample of about 300 tri-state area investors were interviewed. Approximately one-third of those interviewed had $1 million or more in household financial assets. The poll, released on January 29, 2014, was conducted October through December 2013, by GfK Public Affairs and Morgan Stanley Corporate Communications.

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management provides access to a wide range of products and services to individuals, businesses and institutions, including brokerage and investment advisory services, financial and wealth planning, banking and lending, cash management, annuities and insurance, retirement and trust services.

Foundation Seeks Loaned Funds to Launch Early Childhood Music in Hartford

A full page advertisement in The Hartford Courant recently sought individuals interested in “parking idle funds for education.”  The open request, designed to attract funds that would enable the organization to create a free early childhood music program in Hartford, came from the POTE Foundation, Inc., a Connecticut based organization committed to providing educational support and resources to youth. POTE, which is an acronym for providing opportunity though education, promotes the vision that success is achieved when opportunity meets preparation.  The organization, founded in 2007:

  • provides financial and support services to all levels of the educational process—early childhood through higher education;POTE
  • strives to develop unique programs to encourage educational excellence for youth who encounter the lack of opportunity, either because of economic or intellectual barriers; and,
  • engages the intellectual and financial resources of baby boomers along with corporate and foundation outreach.

The ad points out that POTE “has successfully provided cost free violin instruction to K and pre-K students in Connecticut,” noting that “early involvement in music enhances reading achievement and fosters and appreciation of music in the development of the child.”

It asks that interested individuals “grant an interest free term loan to provide investment income to fully fund enrollment” in the program, to be used to develop a learning facility in Hartford and provide investment income to fully fund enrollment.  “Loan principal will not be expended for either construction or operating costs,” the organization points out. And POTE emphasizes that “all funds collected from fundraising activities go to program services – there are no administrative costs for POTE activities,” according to POTE President Christopher Wolf.

In accordance with its mission statement, during the past five years, the Glastonbury-based POTE has:

  •  Enrolled 90+ pre-k and kindergarten children in Suzuki cost free violin program over five years in Windsor Locks
  • Provided major funding for 565 youth (ages 4 to 18) for inner city youth in the Waterbury Police Athletic League’s Safe Water Information Movement (SWIM) program
  • Funded after school program for middle school youth for science, math and technology in Waterbury
  • Used fees collected from consulting services, to fund $3,000 for water appreciation and nature walk for Waterbury’s West Side Middle School
  • Provided $5,000 in grant funds to Hartford Conservatory for musical instrument acquisition, maintenance and repair

POTE provided $34,000 in funding for various youth educational programs during 2012.

POTE anticipates that if they are able to move forward with the new Hartford early childhood music education program, “local jobs would be created during the development phases” and the ongoing program would “employ local musicians.”  In the event that the program does not go forward, all proceeds would be refunded.