Monday, June 23, 2008

Venture Capital Conferences

Venture capital forums/conferences

Most regions of the US have a least one of these conferences annually. They are often sponsored by chambers of commerce, economic development agencies, technology associations, venture capital firms, or local venture capital clubs.

The forums are usually a combination of networking, speeches by experts in the field of raising capital, and presentations by a carefully selected group of companies seeking capital.

It is hoped by the conference organizers that a significant number of attendees to the event are venture capitalists or angel investors, or others who at least have access to investors.

Entrepreneurs are most interested in being included in the roster of companies making presentations. They need to keep several things in mind: there are usually hundreds of applicants to a well-publicized conference and only a half dozen or so companies selected to make presentations. The odds of being chosen are slim.

A public forum is not the best venue for some entrepreneurs who may not be comfortable with performing to an audience. Great care must be taken in organizing and practicing the presentation. If the audience loses interest in the first few minutes of the presentation, it is unlikely the entrepreneur will be able to get their attention. It is best to hammer home a few very important points rather than trying to present an entire business plan, or describe a complex technology in great detail. The most effective presentations tell the audience:

• What is truly great, unusual, groundbreaking about the business concept
• How this will result in investors being able to make money

These may sound like simple points, but in a large number of these presentations, the audience walks away not even understanding exactly what the company does.

The real benefit to these events for most entrepreneurs comes in the form of networking opportunities and social events, being able to introduce your company or your business idea to people who may have money to invest or know of people who do. Ideally, you may find someone who is so excited about your company’s prospects that he or she agrees to be your “champion,” recommending your company to potential investors and perhaps willing to help you in a mentoring capacity.

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