Entrepreneurship nonprofit LaunchNJ partnered with Publitics to conduct and release the first annual “State of Starting Up in the Garden State” survey aimed at assessing the mood of the entrepreneurial community in New Jersey. The survey shows that, while respondents are generally optimistic about the state of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Jersey, they believe that there is much work to be done to turn the State into a vibrant entrepreneurial hub.

Over the course of January 2014, we surveyed 108 members of the New Jersey entrepreneurial and startup community. The questions focused on ascertaining how the respondents perceived the current strength of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the future of the ecosystem and the challenges in building a strong ecosystem in New Jersey.

We found that, generally, the respondents felt that progress has been made over the last few years, but there are distinct challenges that need to be addressed to advance the ecosystem further.

Key Findings:

  • Respondents were lukewarm on the strength of the New Jersey entrepreneurial ecosystem. A plurality of respondents were neutral (45%) when asked about the strength of the New Jersey entrepreneurial community, while 18% felt that it was strong or very strong versus 30% of respondents who felt that the ecosystem was weak or very weak
  • Access to capital is of primary concern for members of the community. Among the concerns of members of the entrepreneurial community in New Jersey, access to capital toped the list, while access to talent and support from local and state government also registered in the top three. Cost of living, access to mentors and educational resources and access to office space were much lower on the list
  • The growth of resources and events are having a positive impact on the perception of the ecosystem. Members of the entrepreneurial and startup community are starting to see the growth of some elements of a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem such as access to Meetups, academic institutions and mentors and reported that they overwhelmingly believe the community is headed in the right direction
  • Community members feel that New Jersey is a welcoming place to launch or grow a venture. Despite attitudes relating to challenges facing the entrepreneurial and startup community in New Jersey, a majority of respondents feel that the State is a welcoming place to startup

Seizing on Momentum

Entrepreneurship is a significant driver of economic growth. New Jersey is well positioned to support a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and has made strides towards that end. The entrepreneurial community and key stakeholders need to identify opportunities to collaborate on developing smart public policy as well as delivering programming that will support and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. There is a significant opportunity to translate momentum at the grassroots level into widespread progress.