Many internet entrepreneurs I know (myself included) are pretty content sitting at the computer most of the time doing research and figuring how to generate traffic, improve web site design and conversion rate, and study web analytics to determine what to do next. We use the web for hours a day to do research on what everyone else is doing. Then, relying primarily on email and instant messaging, we can efficiently communicate hundreds of times per day with employees, customers, partners, etc. So why break away from the computer and have a real world event, when using the computer for everything is so efficient?
To generate publicity, for one thing.
One of our recent startups, FundingUtah.com hired a PR firm a couple months ago to help us with a single press release to announce our existence. John Pilmer, head of PilmerPR called me about a week later and suggested that since our business fit in so nicely with Utah Governor Jon Huntsman’s economic agenda, that he thought we might be able to attract the Governor to a press conference or launch event. With our permission, John Pilmer started the ball rolling.
Yesterday all the hard work culminated in a wonderful event with about 100 attendees yesterday in Sandy, Utah. We had about 40 angel investors and 50 entrepreneurs in the audience along with a few government and media representatives. The Governor made a great speech about entrepreneurship and economic growth in Utah. We are the 5th fastest growing state in the U.S., we have the youngest population, and the Governor is predicting a boom period because we have such a strong entrepreneurial spirit in this state.
David Bradford, a partner in FundingUtah.com told the story of hearing Jon Huntsman Sr. speak in California 30 years ago just when his styrofoam packaging company was getting under way. 30 years later Huntsman Chemical is one of the largest chemical companies in the world with a $4 billion plus market cap and manufacturing operations in 22 countries.
Today I woke up to find the FundingUtah.com story on the front page of the Deseret News business section. We also got coverage from the Salt Lake Tribune, KSL Radio (you can even hear an audio clip), and other media outlets.
With the coverage today we’ve jumped to 73 investors and $47 million in available capital, and we’ve had many new business plans added today from entrepreneurs who are seeking funding.
I told the audience yesterday that I haven’t seen people gather to see a launch of a web site since about 1994–but this story became newsworthy both because the Governor attended our event and because the site has the potential to help hundreds of Utah startup companies attract capital and create jobs.
The event was even better because we invited the two angel organizations in the state, Utah Angels and Top of Utah Angels (who are holding their first meeting on May 10th) to the party. Utah needs hundreds of active angels to provide fuel to the fire of innovation and talent that already exists in the state.
If you know any high net worth individuals who aren’t putting their money to use to grow our economy and make dreams come true, invite them to check out FundingUtah.com.
And remind them of this quote by Brigham Young, Utah’s first Territorial Governor:
A man has no right with property, which, according to the laws of the land, legally belongs to him, if he does not want to use it; he ought to possess no more than he can put to usury, and cause to do good to himself and his fellow man. When will a man accumulate money enough to justify him in salting it down, or, in other words, laying it away in the chest, to lock it up, there to lie, doing no manner of good either to himself or his neighbor? It is impossible for a man ever to do it. No man should keep money or property by him that he cannot put to usury for the advancement of that property in value or amount, and for the good of the community in which he lives; if he does, it becomes a dead weight upon him.