Peter Thiel reminded the TechCrunch audience this week how unique and impactful Silicon Valley is. He predicted it will continue to lead the world in innovation and disruption for at least the next two decades. He said he’d be “long on Silicon Valley” and “short on New York.” New York is developing a fantastic startup culture; but data shows that no one is close to Silicon Valley in attracting the best talent, churning out the best... Read More
On Tuesday, June 23rd at the Hilton Hotel in Salt Lake City, FundingUniverse will be announcing the first ever Utah Angel Investor of the Year award winner. The top 15 finalists for this award are Alan Hall, Craig Earnshaw, David Carter, Gary Williams, Hal Widlansky, JD Gardner, John Richards, Kent Thomas, Kyle Love, Mark Madsen, Martin Frey, Nobu Mutaguchi, Robert Kunz, Scott Frazier and Warren Osborn. Having been a big fan of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards for many years, I think it is exciting that... Read More
Utah is a very friendly state for startup companies. It ranks in the top few states for entrepreneurship. We have a great economic environment, a well educated work force, and a very growth-oriented governor. Plus, we have FundingUniverse.com, headquartered right here in Utah. FundingUniverse.com and Grow Utah Ventures will select five entrepreneurs to present their business plans on March 22nd at Governor Huntsman's Economic Summit, in front of a live audience at Grand America Hotel (the finest hotel in Salt Lake City.) The audience will include angel investors from nearly every angel group in Utah. And the winning entrepreneur will receive an investment of up to $100,000 from these angels.
FundingUniverse.com now has about 1,000 angel investors in virtually every state. The company, which I helped found in early 2005, is holding its 5th speedpitching event today in Sandy, Utah. It has held events in 6 or more states and has plans to continue to expand. I've attended several of these events representing the small fund we have at Provo Labs, as a potential investor. The coaching and practice sessions have been extremely helpful. Imagine trying to get your entire business plan onto a 1-page summary that will be distributed. And then imagine being forced to tell your story in 4 minutes. That's what all the entrepreneurs learn how to do. After the 4 minute pitch, the investors get 3 minutes for Q&A. Then you go to the next table and give your pitch again. You do this 5 times before lunch, and then 5 times after lunch.
Most VCs don't have time to look at the thousands of unsolicited deals that are sent to them "over the transom," an interesting phrase defined by Wikipedia. Most only look at deals that are referred to them by people they know and trust. So when VC Forum comes to your town looking for local deals that are promising, the Forum requires them to be submitted by a local VC firm that has of course screened the deals. So local companies that want to pitch at the VC Forum events will need to have already gotten in front of credible people and started telling their story. You have to get noticed, you have to have a good team and a good story, and then you get the referral you are looking for.
New Jersey has a new economic development program that guarantees up to 1/3 of the investments made by angel investors in startup companies. More details here. Members of the Jumpstart angel investing network (a pretty forward looking group) are the first to receive this government guarantee, for a $285,000 investment in software company Knowtions. Interesting concept.
Brock Blake, CEO of FundingUniverse.com (a Provo Labs portfolio company) just made it on the list of Utah's Top 40 Under 40. At age 25, he was the youngest person on the list. So he can stay on this list for the next 14 years! Way to go, Brock.
If you are an angel investor and want a fun experience, join me and a couple dozen other angel investors for FundingUtah.com's first Salt Lake City entrepreneur speedpitching event Thursday, February 2nd. The staff at FundingUtah.com have selected 10 promising entrepreneurs for the event. They have been coached on how to deliver informative and energetic pitches. It promises to be an exciting day. Last November the first ever FundingUtah speedpitching event attracted journalists, photographers, and even KSL news, which broadcast a 2 minute report of the event on the evening news. Check it out. This is fun stuff. Visit the FundingUtah web site for more information or call them at 801-805-4847.
A Business Week article (thanks John and Steve!) discusses that angel investors are banding together more often and investing larger amounts in less risky deals. The author mentions that more than 200 organized angel groups exist in the U.S. served by the Angel Capital Association. I like seeing the growth from the organized angel groups. FundingUniverse.com (one of our portfolio companies) helps by providing free online software (the DealFlow Suite) to help angel groups find quality business plans and growing companies that they want to learn more about.