Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Teachable Moment? Report from the Dec. iEvening


Report from the Pitch iEvening for Entrepreneurs 

Need to raise a million? The iBreakfast/iEvening series has helped Start-Ups raise over $40 million. This powerful iBreakfast/iEvening quarterly meeting of entrepreneurs, VCs and seasoned execs enables start-ups to find their "Power Pitch™" while offering a unique opportunity to raise capital.

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VC Panel lead by:    John Ason, Angel Investor   •   Heather Gilchrist, RAK Tech Fund   •   Allan Grafman, All Media Ventures    •    David Teten,  ff Venture Capital      •      Moderated by Alan Brody    

Nikhil Paul, CEO Nfoshare & Alan Brody, Moderator, iEvening


The Report: A Teachable Moment

Every Entrepreneur iEvening seems to have its own theme. We don’t plan for it but it somehow works out that way. Last time it was medical plans.

This time it was education.

Not only was our winner, Andrew Cohen’s Brainscape, an educational product (popular multimedia flash card apps) but so were the runners up.

Even your humble host of the workshop was invited to put the collected wisdom of the Entrepreneur Power Pitch panels into an educational format. (More about this blog and eBook later).

Our panel of investors included Heather Gilchrist of RAK Tech Fund who had succeed with an educational product. John Ason, the Angel Investor who gets to write his own checks has some educational investment but Allan Grafman of All Media Ventures and David Teten of ff Venture Capital are not generally there. But they voted for it anyway.


Maybe it is just the current mood. No one seems to understand the economy, what to spend our money on or even what to manufacture - so why not get an education? And hasn’t the cost of education outpaced the economy. So there it is - an overpriced enterprise ready to be taken apart by technology: reducing analog dollars into digital pennies by turning pedantry into personal pedagogy.

BrainScape came out of Columbia and seems to include a little of a very hot commodity according to number of our judges, “gamification”. It is not just learning with your own flash cards, or borrowing from others who have been there before but you can have some fun doing so too.

The runner up was Rami Cohen, MD whose Tel-Aviv start-up, Telesofia comes with a special pedigree, he worked with ICQ founder and Israel Start-Up guru, Yossi Vardi. Telesofia, is a platform for creating personalized video communications between doctors and patients. A form of education, you might say.

Another runner-up was Nfoshare, a website that allows college students to tap the collective wisdom of their class by tying the professors, tutors and students into an ongoing forum. It spares the professors from endless of questions and lets the slow kids tap the knowledge of the smart kids.

Afiniate's IntentEngine™ software, produced by Ram Singh, the winner of our DC event, educates banks on the needs of their customers and feeds them offers they are likely to be interested in.

Firmcontour educates you on how to lose weight. After getting your personal profile it delivers a customized menu for your weight loss or dietary needs for just $12.95 a month.

ZeroIn Media educates banks customers on whatever the banks deems worthwhile -on flat screen TVs as they wait in line.

Finally, Candid Capture, educates employers about the candidates they are looking to hire by allowing them to capture structured video interviews for perusal on their own time.

PowerPitch workshop - once again we used the power of our panelists to help the Entrepreneurs shape their plans and calibrate their messages for various kinds of investors. It also raised so many issues that Entrepreneur asked us to begin the eBook below.

A special thanks to our sponsors Herrick Feinstein for hosting a marvelous event with great refreshment and food & wine breaks.
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Due to popular demand and as part of the iEvening Education theme, we will be releasing a compilation of our PowerPitch Workshop’s book of wisdom.

POWER PITCH™ - TAPPING THE HIDDEN RULES OF START-UPS

The heart of this workshop is focusing on the pitch - that 10 or 15 second elevator shpiel. It sounds simple and doing some kind of pitch is simple. But doing the right pitch is incredibly because it makes you focus on the essential, communicable element of your plan.

We stumbled upon this through two sources. One of our investors told us that the lives for 3 phone calls he gets every morning that rave about this new start-up or Entrepreneur. Then Bloomberg TV approached us to do a show about our startups and they asked, so what do these companies do?”

It turned out to be almost impossible to explain and so we recognized the challenge:

How do we get entrepreneurs to reduce their idea, management, specific experience, technology and marketing plan into a bite-sized chunk? How to make it relevant to a potential investor? How to turn it all into a meme so that angel investors can pass it around to their colleagues like a chit in the favor bank?

How do you get your idea to become remarkable to investors? How do you make it go viral for the checkwriters?

We came up with the idea of using their colleagues. We found out that the best way to do it is to make a group of your peers give you the feedback you need. After all, they are most like you: the VCs can be dumb, your loved one may never understand you but if your peers don’t get you then you know you have work to do.

That’s the essence of the PowerPitch Workshop. But in order to manage it you have to know a lot about the mindset of Angel VCs: what they are looking for, how they handicap you and how they get into their own kinds of buying frenzies. That is the essence of this book, gleaned from years of listening to the VCs after you’ve left the room.

They have their own ideas, their own rules of thumb which they generally don’t share with you. Much of the time they don’t really articulate it because it’s a given.

But not to you.

You also need to understand whether you are investible - how to improve your chances or how to find more accessible and far cheaper sources of capital.

Many of these points are on the blog and this outline will direct you to some of the points already written and all the rest waiting to come.

Are You Fundable? An outline of our coming eBook
  1. Are you investible? Understand what investors are looking for before you pitch. In our blog.
  2. How do Investors rank you? Eskimos have 57 words to describe snow and the Bedouin have 100 for a camel. What do Investors have for entrepreneurs?
  3. The Secret to Pitching: the “3rd Dimension”  In our blog.
  4.  5 Things you should NEVER say to a VC - 5 things you SHOULD.
  5. The Jockey vs. the Horse - the key to your future.  In our blog.
  6. How to dream the meme - like DNA and Google you can make yourself stumble on the key idea.
  7. How to spot a VC.
  8. How to calibrate your message for different VCs.
  9. VC Frenzy: What you can learn from Tupperware.
  10. How to launch a business when you’re “the 99.”
  11. How to survive the drought.
  12. Plan B: Do you Pivot or Deconstruct?
  13. Payday? All about Termsheets.
  14. How to grow: Lessons from billion dollar companies I helped.
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