August 28, 2006

The Capital Food Chain: Bootstrapping (8.28.2006)

Brock Blake, CEO of, and Bill Payne, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, discuss the details of bootstrapping your early-stage venture. Topics covered:

  1. How to Bootstrap
  2. Getting cheap or free money to fund your business
  3. Using your customers to fund your growth

August 24, 2006

Prepare to Pitch

Your business model is ready, your plan is posted on, and you are anxiously expecting a phone call or an e-mail from potential investors. You’re done, right? Not quite. You need to practice, practice and practice to refine and tweak your elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is a succinct synopsis of your business plan. The purpose of the pitch is to prepare a short presentation about your company that can quickly be given over the phone, in an email or explained at moments notice.

It is crucial to develop and perfect your elevator pitch. The pitch should include two or three sentences on the following items:

  • Company’s name
  • Identify what problem you solve for customers
  • Product/service
  • Current success
  • Market opportunity
  • Any other genius your company has to offer (i.e. a primo management team/advisory board, a great network, a great location, etc.)

If you don’t have an elevator pitch ready begin writing one ASAP. You will need to have this pitch ready every time you introduce yourself to investors or other interested parties.

In Guy Kawasaki’s book, Art of the Start, he advises entrepreneurs to pitch to an audience. The audience could be your spouse, friends, family or co-workers. After your pitch is over, ask the audience to write one sentence describing what your company does. Use the responses from the audience to further fine tune your pitch. Guy also suggests part of practicing a pitch should include videotaping yourself. If you can watch your pitch without cringing then you are ready.

For more tips on pitching read Art of the Start or contact at 877.638.3616.

In Search of Deals

Where do you find your deal flow? The methods used by one investor may or may not work for you. Some ways to find deals include:

  2. Angel group meetings
  3. Personal contact (Email submissions, chance encounters, etc.)
  4. Word of mouth
  5. Events (SpeedPitching, conferences and seminars)

These are all means for locating deal flow; however, an often overlooked resource is available to you. Universities and colleges around the country have a plethora of young talented entrepreneurs with solid business ideas. One angel group in Utah has had several successful exits, including Omniture’s recent IPO, by looking for the best deals coming out of Brigham Young University. Examples like this can undoubtedly be found in every state across the country.

When we are looking for applicants for our Speedpitching events, we contact local universities, especially those with entrepreneurial programs. realizes the CEO’s of the next fortune 500 companies may not yet have a college degree. For example, at our most recent SpeedPitching event in Florida, the winners of the Florida International University business plan competition presented. One student, who would never have been able to meet with angels otherwise, is close to closing a deal.

Entrepreneur Magazine recently compiled a list of the top 100 entrepreneurial colleges. The top ten ranking colleges are:

  • Belmont University: Nashville, TN
  • Bradley University: Peoria, IL
  • University of Dayton: Dayton, OH
  • Drexel University: Philadelphia, PA
  • Eastern Michigan University: Ypsilanti, MI
  • Loyola Marymount University: Los Angeles, CA
  • University of Missouri: Kansas City, MO
  • Montana State University: Bozeman, MT
  • Purdue University: West Lafayette, IN
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute: Worcester, MA

To view the complete list, click here.

You may want to form relationships with directors of entrepreneurial schools at your local college or university. Directors can connect you with students who have outstanding business ideas. You can also become a supporter of entrepreneurial programs. While you may not choose to fund a plan from the university, your support and guidance could be priceless to young entrepreneurs.