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Entrepreneur Center Opens in Waltham, MA

Published: 12/20/2006 11:21:35 AM, comments: 0

Recently I came across a new resource for emerging companies in the Waltham, MA: The Emerging Enterprise Center.

Created by Foley Hoag, LLC, a prominent local law firm, and headed by David Broadwin, Partner and member of the firm’s Executive Committee, the center opened for business earlier this year in September, is located in the heart of the Route 128 corridor and aims to provide emerging company entrepreneurs with many of the resources they need to help launch their fledgling companies. Foley Hoag is very active in the start-up community there and has 240 attorneys between their Boston, Waltham and Washington DC offices.

The center has an ambitious agenda: in addition to providing a full complement of legal services as you’d expect from a law firm, the EEC hosts networking events between entrepreneurs, VCs, angels and other venture & technology industry participants. There is already a significant schedule of thought-provoking technology-oriented seminars with well-known speakers, and various resources for entrepreneurs to use to assist them in accelerating their start-up companies.

For more information, check out the EEC online at http://www.emergingenterprisecenter.com/home.aspx

Don Jones

VentureDeal

Ten Ways to Increase Your Chances of Raising Venture Capital

Published: 12/19/2006 9:57:50 AM, comments: 0
(Previous post - #3 in a series)

#4: Keep getting turned down? Ask why.

Some investors will tell you why they aren’t going to write you a check. Others won’t tell you. Still others will say “No for now,” and let you know what milestone(s) you need to accomplish for them to invest.

But you won’t know unless you ask.

Many entrepreneurs are so focused on their idea that they miss something. Perhaps it’s your your pricing assumptions, or your presentation skills, or an unimpressive team. There are many reasons why investors don’t get interested enough to write the check.

When you do ask why they aren’t investing, tread softly when replying to them and don’t get defensive. Above all, don’t argue with them about how they’re wrong. Take it as valuable feedback from one perspective. Also, many investors will say no to you, but that doesn’t mean it is no forever. Ask them if they would like to keep track of your progress with a monthly or quarterly email from you. You’ll be surprised at the interest that comes your way as you continue to achieve your milestones.

Remember, you don’t ask, you don’t get…

Don Jones

VentureDeal.com

Ten Ways to Increase Your Chances of Raising Venture Capital

Published: 12/17/2006 11:45:21 AM, comments: 0
(Previous post - #2 in a series)

# 3: Be realistic with how long it takes to raise money.

If you don’t have a personal introduction to a Venture Capital firm or angel group, then understand you won’t get a lot of phone calls immediately. Don’t leave funding to the last minute.

I’ve heard more than one complaint from entrepreneurs about how long it takes to get through the funding process. One of the reasons for this is that it typically is a consensus-based process and this takes time. Usually, the larger the number of individuals involved, the longer it takes. Investors in risky ventures like to take time evaluating the company, the management and the market space. They prefer to contact a variety of experts or other people whose opinion they value. They will keep re-visiting the opportunity until it feels right to them to write a check.

In my experience, entrepreneurs need to budget 4 - 6 months from beginning of the funding search process to receiving money in the bank account. If any of that time period falls during August or the end of year holiday season, add another 1 to 2 months to your time estimate, since investors take vacations or are otherwise unable to contact their network during that time.

It also helps to have a backup plan in case funding does not materialize. Investors can smell desperation and they generally don’t like the smell, so be prepared to patiently wait until the timing is right. Keeping investors who have said “No for now” informed of your company’s progress is a great way to keep the ‘pilot light’ on and shows your determination and understanding of the process.

Don Jones

VentureDeal

Investors Circle for the Social Good

Published: 12/15/2006 5:31:59 PM, comments: 0

I recently came across an interesting investment group, Investors Circle . This group is essentially a deal flow facilitator for high net worth individuals who want to invest in socially redeeming ventures. They’re actively looking for start-up venture candidates nationwide, though their offices are on the coasts, in Boston and San Francisco.

Founded in 1992 by Woody Tasch, the organization holds investment conferences designed to put start-ups together with investors in a pitch-event fashion, as well as providing networking opportunities for the socially-minded.

If you have a socially-oriented startup and you’re looking for funding from people who “get it”, don’t hesitate to contact Gary Sprague in the San Francisco office.

Don Jones

www.VentureDeal.com


10 Ways to Improve Your Chances of Raising Venture Capital

Published: 12/14/2006 6:08:45 PM, comments: 0
(Previous post - #1 in a series)

As part of an ongoing series of the Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Chances of Raising Venture Capital, I’ll jump into number 2:
 
#2: Put your best foot forward. 

Don’t send an executive summary that is more than 6 months old. We all know it can take time to obtain funding. It’s not surprising to see the funding process take 4-6 months in a normal situation. Since a lot can change in the marketplace in 6 months, most investors are going to notice the old dates on exec summaries or business plans, or that the information appears to be out of date. Remember, investors are focused on finding the inconsistencies or mistakes. Don’t make an obvious one. 

Not turning off “track changes” in MS Word; not spell checking your documents. One of the first “tests” of an early stage team, which is usually only 2 or 3 people, is whether they can work together closely to create a document that makes sense and presents well. If you can’t do that with a few documents, how can you expect an investor to think you’re going to do that with his money with your company?
 
Insisting on showing a flaky demo and hoping for the best. Some entrepreneurs think that it’s really their idea that counts, or their enthusiasm/salesmanship, or that the investor is lucky to be given the opportunity to invest. Sophisticated and successful investors usually see quite a lot of deals, have many to choose from, and tend to be very picky - otherwise they wouldn’t be successful investors! Your demo is the main introduction to you and your company. The demo doesn’t have to be fancy or the coolest thing, it just has to clearly communicate your vision for the company. Sloppiness in this area indicates either fuzzy thinking or poor organization.
 
Being late to your meeting (blaming it on traffic, etc.) It shows poor planning to an investor if you’re late. A typical investor sees very little information about your company before making an initial judgement. If you can’t get to an important meeting with the investor on time, what is he to think you’ll do when arriving at an important meeting with that first marquee customer you’re going to sell?
 
The bottom line with all of these cautions is that you need to show your investors your ability to deal with the details of the process as well as the grand vision if you want them to take you and your company seriously.
 
Don Jones
 
VentureDeal

Series - 10 Ways to Improve Your Chances of Raising Venture Capital

Published: 12/14/2006 4:59:21 PM, comments: 0

I recently saw this series in a Financing Partners newsletter and thought that I would embellish it a bit (with FP's permission) with my personal experiences. Over the coming weeks, and in no particular order, I’ll include one topic in a post, along with my thoughts about it.

# 1: Get personally referred to an Investor.
 
Finding connections that will give you (a start-up looking for funding) introductions to investors that are active in your industry is not easy. It can take time and lots of effort. One way is to go to industry and VC-attended events, seminars and pitch events and meet as many senior people as you can. Don’t be shy - tell whomever wants to listen that you’re looking for venture financing in whatever industry you’re in and at your stage and ask them if they know of any VCs (or angels) that would be appropriate for you to talk to. Then follow up with them a few days after you met them to ask again or just provide your contact info.

Online databases. VentureDeal was designed for this type of purpose in mind. As a subscriber you can search for investors by industry, stage, region, keyword and funding range. Armed with this information you can begin to learn the names of the finance players in your industry and be able to ask about them through your network of contacts. But apart from this shameless self-promotion, you can visit other databases as well. Silicontap.com, vfinance.com, socaltech.com, vcdeal.com, venturewire.com…all of these databases will provide various types of information at various price points.

Lastly, attorneys and CPAs who specialize in emerging technology companies are great sources of contacts. In fact, many of them see the introduction as part of their value-added service. Keith Koegler of Montgomery Law Group , a busy Silicon Valley technology law firm, says that “it isn’t good enough to be a great attorney, you have to also provide clients with introductions to the right people.”

So keep searching and networking. Over time you will get those all-important introductions.

Don Jones

VentureDeal
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Don Jones
CEO, VentureDeal

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