The Vision of Grow Utah Ventures

I'm sitting inside the old greyhound bus station on Ogden's infamous 25th street. But it isn't a bus station anymore. Utah visionary Alan Hall and his team at Grow Utah Ventures have purchased the old bus depot. They are renovating it and today are christening it the "E Station." E, of course, stands for entrepreneur. Alan Hall's vision is for Grow Utah Ventures to be the most influential private sector force for economic development in the state of Utah, with a focus on Northern Utah.

FundingUtah: Speed pitching for Entrepreneurs

Under the leadership of new CEO Brock Blake, FundingUtah.com is hosting its first ever speed pitching event for angel investors and entrepreneurs. The event will be held in Provo at the Marriott hotel. It will be limited to 50 angel investors and 10 entrepreneurs. This event shows how FundingUniverse.com will become more than just an online matching service for angel investors and entrepreneurs. The company will roll out all kinds of services to help entrepreneurs succeed, including events like this one. I keep telling my partners that Florida (with 26 investors and 176 entrepreneurs) is looking like a nice place to hold our next event. And we definitely need more people signing up in Hawaii (only 2 investors and 8 entrepreneurs), so I can start arguing for that location as well.

Angel Investors

There are now 421 angel investors on FundingUniverse.com and several more are joining every day. When I spoke at the NASVF conference last week in Philadelphia I told the audience that I think about 10% of our registered angels are members of organized angel investor groups, but 90% are independent. I based my estimate on what I know about the angel investors on the Utah site. But this week we started asking every new angel investor which organized angel group(s) they belong to, if any. So my 10% guess will turn into a pretty good estimate soon. Last time I checked we were signing up more than 4 angel investors each day, about 40 entrepreneurs, and getting about 17 new business plans submitted every day. If you annualize those numbers, you get more than

FundingUniverse.com

We are making serious progress with our FundingUniverse.com business. Soon we'll announce some new capital, new leadership, and some significant partnerships that will help this company move forward. I love how the internet can create so much visibility for a new business idea. What used to take years in business formation now takes months. If you know any angel investors or VCs, please encourage them to signup for FundingUniverse.com (it's free) and look at some of the 543 business plans that have been posted there in the last few months. I'll be on a panel at the National Association of Seed and Venture Capital conference in Philadelphia next week, primarily to demonstrate the new DealFlow Suite (TM) which we make available to organized angel investor groups around the country.

Another Angel Group in Utah!

This morning's paper mentioned a new angel group in Utah, the Olympus Angels. The 15-member group led by Jim Ellsworth will provide "seed capital and advice" to young entrepreneurs, according to Alan Hall. Alan is the founder of Grow Utah Ventures, which now has spawned both Top of Utah Angels and Olympus Angels. Both angel groups can be contacted by visiting Grow Utah Ventures or calling 801-479-5525.

Finding Angels and VCs

I think LinkedIn.com is one of the best ways to find angel investors in your area. With 3.5 million members, including many investors, this is a great service and a great way to get introduced through a mutual trusted acquaintance. But in addition to LinkedIn.com, I have found value in owning a copy of the 1998 Pratt's Guide to Venture Capital Sources, a 600+ page hard bound book that probably cost about $50. Of course, this edition is almost useless since it is so out of date. There are probably more current editions. Vfinance.com sells a current database of venture firms on CD ROM for $299. It's much harder to find a directory of angel investors, and since they are many times more likely than VCs to fund your startup company, it can be frustrating if you are an entrepreneur looking for potential angel funding. Our solution? Let's all work together to create a free open-access

FundingChina.com

So we decided to launch our first FundingUniverse.com international web site, and thought we would start with China, since there seems to be a little economic activity going on over there these days. :) FundingChina.com is in English for now, and it will be a matching service for entrepreneurs with ideas and angel or VC investors who want to get involved in the Chinese market. Later, hopefully, we'll offer Chinese language versions (although I hear there are over one hundred dialects.)

Money Looking for a Team

You always hear about how much venture capital is out there, and that there is more capital than there are good ideas or good teams. Business 2.0, one of my favorite magazines, just interviewed 11 VCs to discover which idea they are most anxious to invest in right now, if only they can find a team to execute on it. Someone emailed this article to me and suggested that we could implement something like this on FundingUniverse.com, so that angel investors could list the ideas that they are hoping to be able to fund. I love this idea, and we're going to experiment with it right away.

How to Have an Overnight Internet Success

My brother Curt, founder of Folio Corp, former CEO of MyFamily.com, and current CEO of Agilix, a venture-backed company, is fond of saying telling how his company was going to be an overnight success...after 10 years of hard work. I believe that the single most important key to success in an online venture is doing the little things day after day for years and years until you magically reach the tipping point and everyone seems to have heard of you. In other words, persistence is required for most successful ventures. The reason that I love daily metrics -- keeping track of all the key operating statistics in your company day after day -- is that daily metrics tell me if we are persisting in something that is hopeless, or if we are persisting in something that is bound to reach the tipping point and bring us the success that we hope for. For example, when we launched Ancestry.com's subscription service in

VC Firms Increase Funding for Early Stage Startups

A report shows that early stage funding is increasing. $1.3 billion in venture capital flowed into early stage companies in the second quarter up from $830 million in the first quarter. I keep hearing that VCs are doing more early stage deals, but this is the first report I have seen that bears this out. Still, the 750 companies funded by VCs are a tiny number compared to probably 10-15,000 that are funded each quarter by angel investors (including friends and family, doctors and dentists and first-time and serial angels). That is why there is such a need for FundingUniverse.com to match local entrepreneurs with local angels. According to Angel Investing (p. 146), a book published in 2000 by two Harvard Business School professors, "In the United States, angels invest in