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Bradley B. Bertoch
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I don't know Jason, or if he has a deal he wants to pitch. I concur with him that many "pay to play" conferences are not very rewarding experiences, especially if the entrepreneur is expecting a check. As you can see by our registration site, we do more than arrange a venue. We screen companies, give them feedback, and if selected, we have the venture community mentor them. He probably doesn't know that we are a 501-c-3 not for profit that has a 26 year track record of working with thousands of technical entrepreneurs at minimal cost and often at no cost to the entrepreneur. He probably has us confused with any number for profit organizations that have a business model based on charging entrepreneurs fees for all sorts of things, including pitching. The only way to get rich off entrepreneurs is picking winners, investing in them and helping them grow their business by continually adding value. It might help to let me summarize our last conference (2009): What is Investors Choice®? Over 4000 volunteer hours, 350+ mentoring sessions, 110+ venture mentors, and 20 venture capitalists focused on creating 26 presentations to capture investor interest. 360 attended including students the Institute sponsored from BYU, University of Utah, and BYU Idaho. This program, one of 28 programs WBI did in 2009 in Utah, was executed with with one full time employee, 4 part time employees and well over 100 volunteers. What was the result of all that effort? The following 2009 Investors Choice® Conference companies have reported successfully raising capital after the event. All acknowledge the Institute's help, although most raised their money subsequent to the event through additional hard work. Were they better prepared, absolutely. Did it make a difference, absolutely. OtoKinetics, Freedom Medtech, Matchbin, NVH Technologies, Catheter Connections, Panoptic Security, WCS, Larada, Great Basin Scientific, Alliance Health, Pipeline Micro, Celio, S2. In addition, Hawaii Biotech and Transnetyx are in due diligence. Not bad 14 out of 26 companies in 6 months raised an estimated total of $25M. In addition for 2009, the Institute assisted three other early stage companies raise over $2.5M. Interesting to note Pipeline Micro and Hawaii BioTech came from Hawaii, Freedom Meditech from California, and Transnetyx from Tennessee. They were all referred in by the venture community. Why do we charge entrepreneurs to participate? That's a fair question, the Institute has always maintained that entrepreneurs are a non-affluent clientele, i.e., the don't have money. We charge less than many of the competing conferences, that's because most of our participating companies are looking for angel and "A" round venture capital not later stage money. However, it is important that the entrepreneur has "skin" in the game. This tends to keep them focused on the goal of creating a compelling pitch and giving it to investors, and not dropping out when it becomes too hard. And companies do drop out. With no skin in the game there is little incentive for the entrepreneur to stay focused on what they need to do, not what they want to do, to be an attractive venture. Over time 70% of the companies that present at this one event raise capital. (Maybe not all they wanted, or perhaps at the price they wanted, but accepted.) What does the entrepreneur get for $195? The cost for an entrepreneur to submit, includes having their submission screened by members of the venture and angel community, receiving feedback, and one registration to the conference to hear 20+ well rehearsed pitches, network with the venture attendees, and attend educational workshops. Why $500 to present? Skin in the game. And we organize a mentor team (we call it a Deal Maker Team) composed of 4-5 members of the venture community (service providers, investors, seasoned entrepreneurs). We organize an Investor Feedback session for them that includes investors from around the region critiquing their presentation, two exclusive receptions, trade show and one on one meeting space at the venue, a ski day, and allow employees to come and support the companies trade show booth and attend the educational workshops for free. With 1,000,000 new entrepreneurial ventures a year in the U.S., 60,000 will get angel money, 2500 will get VC money. WBI has consistently, since 2002, provided between 1/2% - 1 1/2% of U.S, venture capital deal flow and numerous deals to the local angel community. I'm sorry Jason has had a bad experience (I don't think with WBI), not everyone is happy with WBI, because we say "NO".
Bradley B. Bertoch is now following JasonCalacanis
Jan 5, 2010
Bradley B. Bertoch is now following The Typepad Team
Jan 5, 2010