October 9, 2008

Live Pitch HUGE Success!

 Last week Funding Universe hosted a “Live” Pitch event on the Novell campus in Provo, Utah.  Five companies were selected to present their products and services to a panel of six investors and business experts.  Approximately 150 spectators attended the two hour event.

Live Pitch was born from another Funding Universe event called “Speed” Pitching.  ”Speed” Pitching is similar to speed dating.  In speed pitching, ten screened businesses meet in a room filled with 30-50 investors.  The goal for business owners is to pique the interest of Angel and Venture Capitalist for future funding.  For the Entrepreneur they get the undivided attention of 30-50 investors and the investors benefit because they can be introduced to 10 vetted businesses through Funding Universe in less than two hours.

Businesses are allowed four uninterupted minutes to present their venture.  They then have three minutes to answer questions and bing bam boom they are done.  Four minutes is not a lot of time to explain an entire business, so the pitches have to be precise, thorough and engaging.  Many businesses who have participated in our “Speed” Pitch event have asked Funding Universe if they could watch a Speed Pitch before participating in one.  Alas, “Live” Pitch was born.

Last week the five qualifying businesses screened to present were 

  • ListPipe, a new SEO company focused on providing custom content through an online subscription service.
  • Izatt International, a local development group focusing on iPhone applications.
  • Gruvie, a social utility that enables you to wrangle all your social networking accounts into a single login.
  • Lignin Bio Fuels, an alternative fuel company that produces transportation fuel out of non-edible biomass.
  • Estamar Strategy, a consulting group managing business investment opportunities
  • After presenting, the audience was allowed to invest $200 in “FU Funny Money” into any of the five companies.  The audience in conjunction with the six panalists produced the top two companies.  The two “Live” Pitch winners were Ian Ellis of Gruvie and Cary Snowden of ListPipe.  (In a bit of unbiased reporting, I would like to point out that I only had one client in the competition and he won)

    Our next Speed Pitch event will be on October 24th at the Larry H Miller Campus in Sandy, Utah.  We invite you to come out and see how Funding Universe facilitates the interface of Small Businesses with Angels and VC’s.  

    Joel Nielsen is a Venture Consultant at Funding Universe and can be contacted at jnielsen@fundinguniverse.com

    October 8, 2008

    Client Success

    Just Another Day in Paradise: Good news at FundingUniverse, another deal funded and more to come.  Nothing gets us more excited than hearing that one of our clients got a check, and that’s nothing compared to the excitement they experience when they see the green.  Now just a reminder, raising money is not really about the money, it is what the companies can do with it that is exciting.

    When, I see one of my clients quit their day job and start doing what they love and are passionate about, it really makes it all worth it.  Let me tell you a little about how it went, so that you can get an idea of how our engagements can go.  (Names have been changed)

    1. Joe, Mike and Pete have worked for four years developing some pretty impressive alternative energy,  Joe is an engineer with an MBA and Mike is a die hard engineer.  Pete is a business man that is well connected in the geographic market that represents their initial target.  Together they make a fine team and obviously they are committed to what they do or they wouldn’t work four years on a project while at the same time keeping their day jobs to make a living.
    2. The great thing about their deal, is that they came to FundingUniverse, already having developed their technology to a prototype stage, they had gotten some market commitments and they had really done the research.  Plus they had contributed sweat equity or got donated real assets and expertise to the equivalent of about 400k, which shows ingenuity and commitment.
    3. Basically this team needed help formulating their business documents, preparing to pitch and learning to network.  We spent about 6 weeks getting this done and then gave them exposure through a speed pitching event.  Within about a month of that event they had a check and are now moving forward with their plan.

    This is just an example of the success that is experienced on a regular basis here at FundingUniverse.  Now I am not saying every engagement turns out this way, much of that depends on you as an entrepreneur. I will say that for those who have paid the price and need some help getting off the plateau and on to the mountain, we know how to get you there.

    Comments from the client:

    Funding had been the biggest obstacle to starting our business when we inquired into the services that Funding Universe offered.  At the very first meeting it became clear that we had been going about it the wrong way and needed to change course.  Funding Universe helped us refine our business plan and focus our efforts to find the right investors.  It took time but we were able to find the investors we needed and start our business even during a world financial crisis. The most important contribution that Funding Universe gave us was the ability to understand and approach investors, which helped us make the changes we needed to move forward.

    October 7, 2008

    A Directory is Not a Network

    FundingUniverse was conceived as a network where entrepreneurs could find appropriate investors and investors could find a lot of deals that have gone through some pre-screening to meet their criteria. Investors and entrepreneurs, can maximize the value of the site by using it as it was designed, providing a little, simple information when the site asks for it. Both groups habitually leave vital information out of their profiles and in doing so decrease the value of the FundingUniverse network for all involved.

    Investors often fill in their contact information but leave their business information blank. They will just not fill out what types of businesses they are interested in or how much they are looking to invest. Would they be willing to invest nationally or do they want to stay within their state? What stage of companies and what kind of entrepreneurs are they looking for? In other words, they don’t fill out the very information that would make their contact information relevant. Without this information in their profile, an investor can search the site and hope to find what they are looking for, but it is almost impossible for someone to find them with the kind of deal they would be interested in. It’s like setting up a profile on Linkedin and not telling anyone what you do or have done. It’s of no use to anyone else so it’s really not of much use to you either. Your entry has become only slightly more valuable to the community than a white page listing would be and everyone suffers for it.

    Entrepreneurs make similar mistakes when filling out their profiles. They leave blanks in their business summary or, just as bad if not worse, enter something like “see business plan.” This tells potential investors that you are either too lazy to fill in the information or just don’t get the concept of what FundingUniverse is for. The investor is also forced to download a document just to understand the basic facts of your business. I am just speculating but I am pretty sure most won’t.

    This could be taken as a test of your marketing skills. Your potential investors (read “customers”) first contact with you is likely to be your page on FundingUniverse. There, they are almost certainly going to read your summary or watch your video before doing anything else. If you loose them there it doesn’t make any difference how good your business plan is because they will have written you off before ever getting to it. To avoid this, fill out your summary in as factual and concise a way as possible and then ask someone who isn’t familiar with your business to read it and see how good an understanding they get from it.

    Membership in FundingUniverse is growing weekly. As more and more investors and entrepreneurs join the site, it becomes harder and harder for them to achieve their goals without comprehensive, well thought out profiles.