Angel Investor Tax Credit Fuels Growth of Jersey City-Based Startup Leap Insurance
Leap Insurance Agency, located near the Jersey City waterfront, has attracted more than $1.8 million in funding from investors who participated in the State’s Angel Investor Tax Credit Program.
TRENTON, N.J. (October 7, 2019) – Leap Insurance Agency, LLC. (Leap) launched last year with a digital platform to pre-qualify renters looking for apartments and insure rent payments to landlords. The company, which cut the ribbon on a 1,900-square-foot office in Jersey City in August 2018, credits the State’s Angel Investor Tax Credit Program with securing funding to help establish the company’s location and add to its workforce. The program is administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA).
Leap co-signs leases for renters who are not able to secure leases on their own and covers the loss if the renters default on their rent payments. In a little over a year, Leap has co-signed nearly 1,000 leases for apartments throughout New Jersey and in 35 states throughout the country. Leap Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Richard “Rory” O’Connell noted that many of the renters are students looking for off-campus housing and millennials needing housing for their first jobs out of college.
“Leap is empowering millennials to move out on their own as they begin their careers,” O’Connell said. “Thanks to a growing customer base and funding from in-state and out-of-state investors through the Angel Investor Tax Credit Program, we’ve been able to scale our model at a rapid pace.”
To date, Leap has attracted more than $1.8 million in funding from investors who participated in the State’s Angel Investor Tax Credit Program. O’Connell said that the funding made the company’s move to Jersey City possible and also supported the hiring of employees. Ten of the company’s 12 employees are based in New Jersey and two are located in Denver to accommodate the company’s success and to connect with renters in West Coast markets.
The Angel Investor Tax Credit Program offers refundable tax credits against qualified investments for New Jersey businesses. It supports technology businesses with a physical presence in New Jersey that conduct research, manufacturing, or technology commercialization in the state. Over the summer, Governor Murphy announced that the tax credit would increase from 10 percent to 20 percent of a qualified investment, with an additional five percent bonus available for investments in a business located in a qualified opportunity zone, low-income community, or a business that is certified by the State as minority- or women-owned. The expanded program parameters will be in effect for investments made after January 1, 2020.
“Making New Jersey the State of Innovation starts with connecting companies with access to the capital they need to grow and compete in the national marketplace,” NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan said. “Expanding the Angel Investor Tax Credit is an important and necessary step to bring investment dollars to New Jersey.”
Betsy Bernard, who is a former president of AT&T, chose to invest in Leap because of the company’s value proposition, its business model and, what she describes as its terrific leadership team.
“The Angel Investor Tax Credit is a win/win for both investors and companies,” Bernard said. “Companies like Leap get the funding they need to flourish, and the investors are able to mitigate the risk that is inherent to startups.”
The deadline for applications for the 2019 Angel Tax Credit program is October 20, 2019. Applications received after the deadline will be considered for an approval during calendar year 2020. All applications must be submitted within six months from the time the investment is made.
To learn more about NJEDA resources for technology and life sciences companies, call NJEDA Customer Care at 609-858-6767 or visit https://www.njeda.gov/tls and follow @NewJerseyEDA on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.