Saturday, April 7, 2018

In the News: Startupalooza™ Winner Aims to Launch Space Hotels - $792,000 a Night!

The winner of Startupalooza™ Silicon Valley was all over the news after they announced the plans which won over our skeptical Investors in December. 
Congratulations! Welcome to space, guys!
Orion Span was all over the news today after they accounced their intention to open "hotels" in space. The numbers were staggering but investors saw this as a real possiblity and for now, a prestige investment - something to brag about if you have a millin or two to spare........

See Orion Span's media coverage.

Do you have an idea that's out of this world? We might have the same opportunity for you:

You can pitch this on Monday, April 9th at Startupalooza™ San Francisco at Twitter, 1355 Market St. from 6:00 - 9:00 pm. REGISTER

In L.A? Pitch this on Tuesday, April 10th at Startupalooza™ Santa Monica at ExpertDOJO, with our famous Capital Raising Workshop from 3:30 - 5:30 Pitching from 6:00 - 9:00 pm.  REGISTER

About Startupalooza:

This long-running series of events gives every Entrepreneur a chance to pitch. With over $10 million raised for Startups in 2017, these pitching programs have has recently expanded from the East Coast to Silicon Valley and L.A. and is drawing a new generation of exciting deals.

These monthly introduce Entrepreneurs and new Startup ideas into the national Angel Investor community.

About Orion Span:
Orion Span's Mission is to Build and Sustain Human Communities in Space Accessible to All.  Through technological innovation, Orion Span cuts the cost of living in space by an order of magnitude over others. We will not rest until our shared destiny in the stars has been realized.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Lost Love, "Bad Jews" and Getting Funded

People have been buzzing about the Washington Post article I am tired of being the Jewish Mens Rebellion about a lovelorn Southern gal twice left at the altar by Jewish guys for women of their own tribe.

Since we often liken the task of finding Angel Investors to dating, I thought it might be interesting to review this from the Entrepreneur/Investors point of view. In that regard, Carey Purcells cri de coeur is not that different from heartfelt complaints of seeming "outsiders" who pitch and never get funded while some kind of chosen entrepreneurs tribe seem to be the lucky ones who do.

Granted, this broaches a uniquely Jewish issue – that fear of becoming an endangered species. This is something few other racial groups – particularly WASPS have ever had to worry about. No one marched the Smiths and Jones to death camps and so it is especially easy for a well-intended Southerner who rarely met a Jew, to step on a cultural landmine. Not even step, just set off a buried tripwire.

What's in a Sandwich?
I have a Christian friend who was once about to marry a young Jewish doctor until his mother visited and my friend offered her a ham sandwich. Years later, she still never got it – even when I tried to explain. Sure, that Jewish mother was known to have eaten bacon but you, prospective tribemember, are not supposed to offer it.

So it is when it comes to people with money, to whom the potential of Startups to incinerate their fortunes has a similarly chilling effect. Just like Carey Purcell, you can say the wrong thing to them and just never realize it.

A Heimishe Rumspringa?
Let it be said that not every investor is a wary, nay-saying tire-kicker - people do in fact get funded. Likewise, not all Jews are on a Heimishe Rumspringa at some poor Shiksas expense. Both may be more open than she thinks but just not in the way she realizes.

You need to read between the lines and that, after all, is why the Jews came up with Freud..

The Tale of Two Tells
In Careys case there were two giveaways. One was her passing statement that she got along so well with the Jewish guys, who weren't religios at all, that they even helped decorate her Christmas tree. That sounded good to because Christmas is so.everywhere. But not so much to Jews, to whom it sounds more like the Pharoahs wife saying she gets long with Jews so well she had a couple of their lads over from the camps to decorate the pyramids. This article ran over Passover when Jews remember their bondage. In any event, it comes across as cultural smothering.

What she should have said is, she got along so well, she helped light their menorahs.

A startup would run into a similar problem with Investors if they said their business was so good its growing by 10% annually. And yes, Im even giving myself a raise! To most people thats sounds laudable but investors are deathly afraid of something called a lifestyle business which, from their perspective means a low-growth plateauing business that affords a not very ambitious entrepreneur a nice lifestyle while the investor winds up getting absolutely nothing – not even their money back! In that context, low growth and founder payouts are actually trigger words that will send Investors similarly fleeing.

Calling Robert De Niro in the InLaws!
The other standout incident was the certain fellows overbearing mother who somehow got Careys cellphone and called to find her sons whereabouts. This made Carey uncomfortable. Potential in-laws are supposed to make suitors uncomfortable at some level. They are being tested to determine family suitability. So, its how you respond that matters. Prospective Moms-in-law wants to know if you will be a good steward of their sons and whether you will fit in with the tribe. Clearly, she did not do well with that. But once she complained, the answer became a really big No.

Likewise, Investors will want to know if you are coachable and wonder how you will fit within their portfolios. Can you take advice, guidance and will you give accurate accounting? Do you match their investment outlooks? Their annoying phone calls will not be about errant sons but about the fate of their investments. They are going to want to know early in the relationship and whether or not you can handle that call may well be one of their little tests.

Numbers Don't Equal Market Share
The best part about this article is that Carey cites numbers. The 44% of Jews, according to a Pew study, marry outside their faith. At some level her lament sounds a lot like the standard Entrepreneurs business cry: if we just got 10% of Amzon/Google/Facebooks market we would be a great success! Likewise, Carey felt she deserved to be part of that 44% of disengaging Jews.

In reality, the answer is the same in the both cases: no one gives you a piece of their market - no matter how big - any more than they give you their hand in matrimony. You have to earn it - by understanding and winning over their love and trust. Love may be the wrong word in business, but the idea still applies.

The bottom line in both love and business is that, if you really want to be in the game you have to adapt..and persevere.

And then you win.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Blockchain Breakthrough Report: Are ICO's The "People's IPO?"





Note: This event took place in NY on March 28. The next Blockchain Breakthrough event is in San Francisco at Twitter on April 9th. Details Here.

Greg Obenshain on how hedge funds invest in ICO's • Paul Goodman on launching ICO's  Sweta Patel on marketing ICO's • Vlad Golub on trading ICO’s. • Dean Karakitsos on smart contracts • Sachin Narode on getting on the Blockchain • MODERATED by Alan Brody, Startupalooza

ICO’s and the Shifting SEC Rules are Focus at Blockchain Breakthoughs
Are ICOs a Kind of Crowdfunded Mini-IPO?

The first Conference and Startup pitching event in this new series produced by the long-running Startupalooza team played to an overflowing house last Thursday at Coalition Space Flatiron.

The main interest was ICO’s (Initial Coin Offerings), how they have succeeded and how the growing intervention of SEC has raised the bar and brought uncertainty to the crypto community.

What emerged was a story that showed how foreign counties may have taken the lead in ICOs because they had few other ways of raising capital. Certain Hedge Funds and Institutional Investors have backed initial offerings from the pick of the crop due to early discounts, SAFT notes etc. followed by rapid selling as these went to market. Cryptotraders have played a part in driving up values through momentum tradING – even though many offering are little more than a white paper and a website.

In the span of a year, unregulated ICOs appeared that were cheap to launch, underwritten by these big Investors and then dumped on a hungry world market that was willing to essentially crowdfund these startups.

But that was then. Today, the SEC is forcing ICO’s selling to US citizens to get registered and many are taking the Reg A Plus route (see the To ICO or Not To ICO Decision Tree offered below by software attorney, Paul Goodman of TechNY).

The first ICOs were cheap to launch and promote. Today, the legal fees can run anywhere from $25,000 to $500,000 and the marketing has gone from that website-and-a-whitepaper – the ICO’s version of an IPO prospectus – to a full-blown marketing campaign that can run over $500K. (See CenterPoint’s marketing offer below).

Despite the rising bar, interest seems to be mushrooming and ICOs are likely to proliferate as are new blockchain platforms. While expertise is scarce and trustworthy programming talent expensive, that too will come down as knowledge spreads and smart websites offer code-generating solutions.

As this new industry evolves and the public’s appetite for cryptocurrency grows, it seems that what we are really witnessing is the emergence of true equity crowdfunding.

To ICO or Not To ICO Decision Tree Click here for a copy

Sign up now for your free crypto marketing consultation to see how CenterPoint Media can take your  campaign to the next level. CenterPoint Media operates on a cost per acquisition model, meaning that you only pay for the conversions you get. CenterPoint Media is a New York City full service advertising agency leveraging its extensive influencer network to bring brands directly to their customers.

Survive And Thrive – Startup Retreat Offer

Thanks so much for entering the Blockchain Breakthrough event contest - each and every submission we received was awesome and it was a really tough decision for our panel!

To say thanks, Survive and Thrive is covering 50% of the cost of winners ticket to Survive and Thrive's 3-day immersive entrepreneur boot camp experience for just $1250 ($2,500 value). 

This includes 3 nights' accommodation, two-way transportation from LAX, food + drink for the weekend as well as direct access to top-tier investors, mastermind workshops and keynote speakers! Click here to view more details.

To confirm your attendance, just go here


Results from the Blockchainpalooza Pitches



Perrin  Quarshie,     678-234-0447
RealBlocks leverages digital and fiat currencies that allows users to raise and invest capital in real estate from anywhere in the world. We're built on a proprietary hash graph and are launching with several marquee REITs and Brokerages in the US.   
Comment: A well-presented, well thought-out plan with strong industry backing for raising money in the cryptoeconomy for real estate projects.

Roy Hermann,                
Cryptonomy is a community-based ecosystem that provides crypto-enthusiasts an easy, more insightful way to discover and invest in Blockchain projects. Fake news, scams, and the overall complexity of investing in ICOs result in a loss of trust and capital for many crypto-enthusiasts. Cryptonomy helps solve this by providing multiple layers of crowd-sourced content on a designated crypto-focused app used by tens of thousands of crypto-enthusiasts. The app is currently live on iOS & Android.
Comment: A kind of Reddit of the cryptoeconomy that eanables players to communicate with each other and even validate credibility.

Kimera Systems           
Mounir Shita,  Founder and CEO
Based on over 13 years of research, Kimera have made several breakthroughs in the field of Artificial GENERAL Intelligence (AGI). With a business strategy co-developed with the telecom industry, the company intends to combine AGI and Blockchain to disrupt how the global network operates, drive the next trillion devices to bring us to a future; where AGI is moving humanity forward. The solution focuses on a decentralized AGI solution, and a token utility that is a micro-version of a future economic model – one which Kimera believes will serve humans in a future where most jobs are automated.       
Comment: An ambitious if hard to comprehend plan to improve communications and using and ICO to fund it.
MG Miller is a modern intellectual property boutique located in Manhattan’s Financial District. Working primarily with startups and entrepreneurs, they create intellectual property portfolios that facilitate rapid growth for our clients.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Jesus Boat Story - The Entrepeneur's Reward

........and How I Brought a Little Prosperity to the Middle East

People know me for helping startups shape their stories and find investors. They often ask and what else do you do? I always reply that is what I do, it is just a little more than you realize.

How much more, they ask and I am always tempted to answer that it is somehow, well, divine.

How much so, depends what you make of this story…….

It begins in my wandering youth days when I felt the need to experience kibbutz life. So I hitchhiked through Europe and decamped to Tel Aviv where I headed over to the kibbutz office to sign up as a volunteer. When they asked which kibbutz I wanted I looked at the map and, since I hate the desert, found one in the greenest area –– and near a nice big lake.

That turned out to be a well-known kibbutz called Ginosar and that lake it faced was the Galilee.

I found the life there so idyllic that I soon settled into a cushy job which included my own tractor. Once set up, I decided stay for a lot longer than I originally expected.
Over time, I befriend the two brothers who ran the fishing boat on the lake. I never saw them catch many fish but they were always taking their friends and especially, the young female volunteers on boatrides. Eventually, I was invited for a ride with them.

Once on the boat in the lazy haze of the Galilee, we got to talking about the real life on the kibbutz. They gave me a litany of complaints. Problems were everywhere. Most of the farm divisions - the chickens, the cows, the bananas, the grapefruit and so on were barely profitable. The one area that made the kibbutz money, was its slightly rundown lakeside guest house.

But even that wasnt making enough because friends and family of the kibbutz were always trying to come for free or at deep discounts and the Israelis generally, treated it as a local vacation spot that happened to be on a lake.

I thought about it a bit and said you know, you are not seeing this place properly. To Israelis its just a cheap getaway but to Christians, this is hallowed ground facing the Galilee where Jesus performed miracles with fishes and bread, walking on water while frequenting the nearby towns of Tiberias and Capernaum.

"Why dont you go after the Christian pilgrim market," I said. "They will pay full price for everything. Quibbling would be a kind of sacrilege. They celebrate Sundays while you only come for Shabat. Youll be here for Passover but theyll come flooding in for Easter and Christmas and so on.

My host shrugged and said something along the lines of What! No. We are a Jewish kibbutz. This is not a place for Christians. They dont want to be here.

I said, no, youre wrong, you want them there. And theyll want to come.

Nothing happened and I forgot all about it.

Years later, my family visited Israel. We rented a car and of course I wanted to take everyone up to see this idyllic kibbutz of my adventurous youth.

As we pulled up to the kibbutz I couldnt believe my eyes. It looked nothing like the slightly ramshackle place I left behind. Our rustic bungalows had been replaced by mediterannean-style townhouses and the entire kibbutz resembled a gated California community. Then, we drove over to the Guest House, and what once looked like a tired old Econolodge was a now a gleaming edifice. As we drove to the front we saw a sign and nearby, a large wooden boat with the inscription: The Jesus Boat.

It turns out that several years after I left the kibbutz, there had been a drought and the water level in the Galilee fell dramatically, revealing acres of mud. In the mush, the 2 brothers stumbled upon the remains of an ancient boat. They summoned paleontologists, of which Israel has many, who tested the boat and declared it to be about 2,000 years old. Just the kind of boat that Jesus must have sailed upon - and so a new era was born.

Today, Ginosar not only thrives as a destination for Christian pilgrims from all over the world but Israel has actually declared a pathway of cities from Jerusalem to the Galilee as The Jesus Trail.

So..can I take credit for this?

On the one hand, regardless of my advice, none of this would have happened without this boat miraculously appearing. On the other hand, was this a case of someone actualy listening? As in, from my lips to Gods ear? Or maybe, the Sons ear....

There is no question that I have made a lot of people very rich and almost always, in ways that seem to require no special thank you. Like the millionaire who became a billionaire thanks to me getting him a keynote spot at the Broadcasters convention, the virtual beauty salon that picked up a million from my investors, or the delivery service that snagged $400K on a quiet night of pitching in Philadelphia. The list goes on.

So if your idea is right it appears that someone is always listening……

The real question is do you have a Jesus Boat story? Something that you have asked for but that appears at a time least expected, out of nowhere and even in an unfamiliar form?

And this thing changes everything.

I think that most entrepreneurs – the real ones, those who dedicate themselves and remain open and flexible – will have this experience. The only question is whether they can stay the course and be resilient enough to embrace it when it appears.

If you have had an experience like this, please share it with us. Wed like to hear.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Grateful Deed: Lessons from the Startupalooza Tour Out West

--> Startupalooza arrived in L.A. with quite a following. People traveled miles to participate. The winner came from the Philippines and some even followed us up the next day to Menlo Park for our Silicon Valley debut.
Great Landing in Silicon Valley

If it felt a little like a rock tour, it was kind of deserved. A little New York attitude and access to our capital is much appreciated and Startups relished the chance to win an appearance at the National Business Investor Forum in NY worth $3500.

The point of our tour is that entrepreneurship may now be everywhere but not so with financing. Startups need all kinds of help and while there ideas that certain areas favor there may not be funding. More commonly, the ideas are better appreciated elsewhere. New York doesn't love deep tech as much as Silicon Valley or Boston and they don’t care that much for media or ecommerce platforms either. No one likes government plays as much as DC does, and so on…..

The winner in L.A. was a LoyalCoin, a cryptocurrency supporting a loyalty marketing program. The founders and company are from the Philippines where it has gained traction, already raising $2 million.
Most dapper pitcher in L.A.

It was only in L.A. that they could launch big time.

In Silicon Valley the winner was Orion Span, a company that could only have been taken seriously in Silicon Valley because it was raising $14 million to launch - Space Hotels. Yet it turned out to be a very credible pitch by a company laden with former NASA engineers. Turns out everyone is talking about rockets for space tourists but not about a comfortable place to stay once they get there! Enter Orion Span.

These guest rooms don’t come cheap – about a half million a day - but that didn’t stop our investors from wanting to help find just the right billionaires to fund this….

As for DC, the winner was TruGenomix which has a genomic blood test that that
DC Winners: TruGenomix
predict PTSD in soldiers. Since the execs have strong ties to the military, getting some type of sale is a shoo-in. But, as skeptical New Yorkers we still have to ask, does the military really want to know? After all it would limit their pool of potential soldiers.

What a cliffhanger!

Yet, it all illustrates what makes Startupalooza so interesting as we go about finding the terroire in startups. What make certain startups come from certain regions and how does that map to the inefficiencies in funding? Our biggest deals like Nomi Beauty and Alyce were form investors outside of their home towns.

To paraphrase an old saying, profits (OK, prophets) are not always honored in their home towns.

As a national funding network, we are out to solve that problem!

Thanks to all our partners, Brian MacMahon and ExpertDojo in L.A., Maryanne Morrow and Spaces Menlo Park and The Yard in DC for making this all possible!
DC Judges at work
L.A. Pitching

Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley Judges at Work
Sachin Narode of Xeniapp


L.A.  LoyalCoin
Franco Dagelet,

LoyalCoin is the cryptocurrency that redefines customer loyalty programs by replacing traditional rewards points with a dynamic digital currency that can be used to redeem rewards, trade for other currencies, and more. LoyalCoin is the token that serves as the official virtual currency of the new “Loyalty Economy” Appsolutely is building. The goal is for consumers to be able to earn and spend LoyalCoin whenever and wherever they prefer to buy goods and services, from merchants who participate in Appsolutely’s loyalty ecosystem. This creates an open loyalty ecosystem where the consumer decides where and how they’d like to redeem the rewards they’ve earned. 

Comment: This is a good example of a preferred player in a hot new area. However, this is an experienced team with an Initial Coin Offering that has laready taken hold in the Philippines an in this case looks like it could fly in the US.

Silicon Valley

Orion Span, Inc.  
Frank Bunger, Founder & CEO 415-430-5154           
Orion Span's mission is to build & sustain human communities in space. We're building a low cost, turnkey, modular, and scalable space station in low earth orbit (LEO) for astronauts, space tourists, and space research.

Comment: If things work out,, we can help get you past the space race – and into a nice place in space. For an extended vacation, that is. This was credible, slightly awesome pitch to finance the space Marriott in outer space. Cool!

Washington, DC

Yusuf Henriques, Chief Executive Officer  3019156472
Trugenomix Health is developing the first genomic blood test to accurately diagnose PTSD. This objective genomic blood test for PTSD will result in early diagnosis, early intervention, improved clinical decisions, and improved patient outcomes.

Comment: This is a breakthrough idea – predicting PTSD vulnerability though genomic test. The big plus is that the founders are insiders with deep contacts in the first customers – government and the military. The big questions are whether the money is really there for these tests and can they can scale their prediction model for other kinds of behavioural issues.

Runners Up
6 Ft Tall Men
Comment: This defines a targeted audience. What sold it is they don’t just sell longer clothing to longer people but apparel like shirts are actually structurally different - and so they make their own structurally different shirt.

Silicon Valley

Esther Elkouss, CMO                917-588-7420

Comment: In the ever-searching quest to shop without going into a store or even trying anything on this is the solution for precisely measuring your body. Ideal for lingerie and swimwear, it requires the one time use of a low-cost tracking garment. The question is whether the public will adopt it and who will pay for it?                                                                                                                                                               

Washington, DC

Joseph Terpstra, Cofounder 703-408-3236
Namedrop: The word of mouth market. An app for independent professionals and gig workers to turn their friends and clients into personal booking agents for their business and side hustle.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Startupalooza Makes a Porno? Results from the September Startupalooza

Startupalooza Makes a Porno? Not exactly but we had some fun!
Thanks to pointed questions from our panel of Angles, what started out as a presentation for nice-looking, if pricey laptop chair, turned into a risqué romp
 This spring-loaded recliner is more that a stationary rocking chair that lets you work in added comfort, it is a piece of furniture that, shall we say, takes your laptop to another level.
Make that two laptops.
Just to be sure, one of our panelists, Investor, Sandy Wollman from Westchester Angels,  put it to the test with a little help from the co-founder, Lisa Kaczmarek.
Guess – who turned out to be a winner?

 Winner of the National Business Investment Forum Prize worth $3,500
Archer Bowchair
Lisa Kaczmarekladykaz@bowchair.com412-944-6555Leveraging over 30 years of custom "one off" fabrication experience, Kaczmarek Composites was formed in late 2016.  Our passion is the combining of dissimilar materials into cohesive works of functional art.  Whether joining carbon fiber with aluminum or wood with steel, each component brings unique strengths and weaknesses which must be respected in order to create a lasting piece of luxury furniture.  We are a small, rapidly growing custom furniture maker located in Pittsburgh, PA.  
All of our products are American made from environmentally responsible, locally sourced raw materials whenever possible.   
Comment: A show stopping demo that turned this profitable custom furniture maker with a pricey chair into a potential mass market darling.

Runner Up – Winner of the Nessa Group Consulting Prize worth $1,000
Zain Qayyum,            
Medsender enables Doctors to digitally send and receive health records from ANY EMR system. Individual practitioners can have Medsender setup within 2 minutes and instantly begin HIPAA compliant communications.        
Comment: This simple solution to a big problem is making inroads. It seems almost too good to be true and given the highly regulated space just needs a little more buy-in to tip the investor balance.    
Special Mentions
Scott Lee 917-868-2947 
Gooroo is the Airbnb for tutors where students can easily look through 1000+ certified tutor profiles and book instantly. Check the tutor╒s schedule, read a blurb about their educational background, look through student reviews, and view their hourly rate. It's personalized education for the masses - done digitally.
Comment: A well executed delivery about a company with revenues. The competitive environment and the customer churn gave some investors pause.

Vtry Inc. 
Comment: Very interesting technology for virtual tryout in 3D. The competitive environment, concern over the business model and need for additional applications were the concerns. 

Deepak Agarwal dagarwal@desiclik.com516-495-3374 
A vertical e-commerce marketplace meet the demand of 3m Indians in the US and others with unique products of India. 
Comment: Well executive business in a niche market. It needs to point to a bigger universe in order to be fundable past the strategic players and stakeholders in this community.