September 24, 2009

Response to David Cohen’s Offer — Pitching Fee Removed!

At FundingUniverse we pride ourselves on doing everything we can to help entrepreneurs in any way that we can. This is a rather broad statement, but it’s true. We work with thousands of businesses a month, all around the USA and sometimes beyond, to help them with the variety of needs their ideas and businesses face on the way to financing.

Equity and debt are the two ways to get outside financing, and I dare say we offer more options, and a higher success rate, then any other option available to entrepreneurs today. So far this year, we have helped our entrepreneurs received over $30MM in financing, and we expect that number to grow strongly between now and year-end. In 2010, this number will increase dramatically as we open physical offices in Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Boise, Phoenix, Austin, Boulder/Denver, Chicago, Boston, Miami and probably a few more yet to come. The model we have for helping entrepreneurs find the right path to the financing they need is one we spend countless years/hours on. Our team is here everyday thinking of ways to help entrepreneurs be more successful.

One of the great things (and we would humbly submit that there are many) of what we do in regards to our relationships with entrepreneurs is the hosting of events designed to help them get the funding they seek. CrowdPitch is a ‘Shark Tank / American Idol’ style pitch featuring 5 great companies in front of a live audience and a live panel giving real time feedback. The winner of the event (announced at the event) can go home with as much as $5K in prizes. Audience members ask questions, write down feedback, and vote along side the panelists by placing FundingUniverse money in the hands of the presenting companies at the end of all presentations. The winner is the one with the most investment dollars.

Our panel of experts provides real time feedback as well – and in combination with their additional written feedback and the summarized written feedback gathered from our audience, we provide a detailed summary of all thoughts to our 5 companies within 48 hours of the event. Our presenting companies get tremendous value from the panel, the audience and the practice. Some would say the experience has been “invaluable”. In fact, we will agree.

Along those lines, and in partnership with our friends at TechStars David Cohen and Brad Feld, the fee for the 5 companies selected to be at CrowdPitch will now be $0. That’s right, zero. Nothing. Nada.

We want to help lead the charge that Brad and David have started and really live up to our mission of helping entrepreneurs. This is one way we know that we can. We will still charge a fair fee for other services that many find valuable (business plan writing, coaching, financing help, etc.), but we will not charge our entrepreneurs to present at CrowdPitch. We hope this is something that will bring us even more talented entrepreneurs to help and evaluate.

Spread the word, CrowdPitch is coming to a city near you! Let us help you and your business get the funding you need – equity or debt. If you aren’t selected to pitch, come watch. It’s free as well! And did we mention free food and drinks too? It’s become a free-for-all it appears. Again, we look forward to seeing all of you at our upcoming events. In the meantime, we again thank Brad and Dave for leading the charge here and we hope others will follow.

September 10, 2009

Head of Google China Leaves Post to Become Angel Investor


It was recently announced that Kai-Fu Lee, President of Google China, would be leaving this position to seek other opportunities.  Lee left Microsoft in 2005 and joined Google in an effort to increase its reach and overall popularity against popular Chinese competitor Baidu.

The biggest opportunity Lee is working on is setting up an investment fund called Innovation Works, which will invest in Chinese start-ups.  The goal of Innovation Works is to give entrepreneurs financial and other necessary support so that they can concentrate on developing cutting-edge technologies and services.  Lee says that his goal is to get companies up and running quickly so that within 9-12 months they can attract later stage investments.

Photo Courtesy NY Times

January 5, 2009

Is It Enough?

rickgibsonMy Obsessions
Is it Enough?

The big dirty secret. Clearly, no one wants to talk about this. When we do a sales forecast, no matter how confident we are, we’re usually sensitive enough to our audience to make the picture look pretty reasonable. That also includes the supposedly brilliant fed finance guys who keep mis-forecasting the ongoing U.S economic bailout. However, if we were living in a totally transparent world, guys that do these forecasts (the feds) would pay more attention to whether we have allocated Enough money and get it right the first time. Problem is, investors or in this case, the public, would never agree with it. So forecasters are forced to make their case incrementally, over time, which makes the situation get progressively worse.

This is different from the normal world, where if you have a willing investor, you should make sure to get enough money the first time, since you may not get another trip to the buffet line.

P.S. Newsflash… I just heard I am going to get a billion dollar bailout. Hooray! I didn’t want it, but the government said I had to take it, to help insure the public wouldn’t worry. (Now see how silly that sounds!)

Advice to Entrepreneurs
Accordion to me…This week’s advice to entrepreneurs

Surviving in 2009. Whatever you do, you must last to survive. No matter what your company does, make ‘lasting’ your New Year’s Resolution. Chances are, this year you’ll have less money to achieve your goals than you originally planned. Right now, put pen to paper to figure out HOW you can last. Change your focus from achieving greatness to… surviving long enough to have sufficient opportunity to evolve your plan, so you can ultimately achieve greatness. Confusing? It is for me, and I wrote it.

Another dirty secret. Wherever I go, people are still asking what’s changed with the recent big shift in the economy. Two big phenomena occur to me. First, those investors who still have lots of cash, are now looking for deals at 30% of what they were six months ago. A necessary part of that reduction is to cover the possibility that the economy may continue to take a further dive. Second, with things being so radically impaired, those less well-blessed investors are looking at previous deals with a new goal of return OF investment, not return ON investment. (I’m hoping you understood this the first time you read it.)

As compared to what? Get ready for that question. Your market is big, compared to what? Your product is better, compared to what? Your team has more experience? Now…you get it.

Other ideas to help keep you tense….Be careful what you wish for, you might get it. And, when you ask a question, you better know the answer.

Got an idea or something you need help on? Email me at