Bright Startups + UNY50 Investors = Productive Fundraising Conversations
Raising investment is more than just founders of bright startups pitching investors and winning a “prize.”
What happens after the pitch? That next conversation with an investor is a learning experience for both sides. If founders of bright startups aren’t ready, he/she could miss out on a game changing opportunity.
“I feel like our startup ecosystem should do more to coach founders on the whole process, not just the pitch,” said David Thiemecke, a serial co-founder who began with Algonquin Studios in 1998, and fellow member of the UNY50 Leadership Network.
“Over the years, we’ve seen many founders of bright startups listen more to outside perspective and expertise, particularly from experienced entrepreneurs and investors,” agreed Tom Murdock, manager of the WNY Incubator Network. “It makes a bigger impact.”
That’s why the Bright Buffalo Niagara tried on a bigger role this year for its Entrepreneur Expo on June 28 in Buffalo. Tom and Dave serve as board members for Bright, and they ran a program called “Bright Buffalo Niagara Mentor Match Up” modeled on mentor sessions from the StartFast Venture Accelerator.
“This is different from Pitch Prep, held by WNY Incubator Network this year and in the past. We added a new twist focused on de-risking companies, backed by willing UNY50 members who are also startup investors,” said Murdock. “This goes beyond clear communication to the reasons why your startup fits an investor.”
All founders of startups accepted to Bright were invited to participate. Angel investors from UNY50 with a passion for mentoring agreed to two 30-minute sessions, each with one startup. Investors gave founders their honest thoughts on risks they foresaw to investing in that startup. Founders began the conversation by giving their pitch, but transitioned quickly to listening and answering questions about their business model, team, and validation. All sessions were scheduled in the two-week period from June 5 to 16 and convened over a web conference. Murdock recorded the online meetings so entrepreneurs could go back and watch to get a detailed account of all the feedback they received.
“In many sessions, our investors and entrepreneurs would exchange contact information so they could extend the relationship further. In the end, UNY50 members were able to help almost 20 companies enhance their pitch for better conversations at Bright… making them more focused, polished, and investment ready,” said Murdock.
“Without Nasir Ali’s input from his experience at StartFast the session format would have missed the focused impact that brings investors and founders together. 30 minutes is just enough time to get to the point and challenge it,” said Thiemecke. “Mentor Matchup is an example of Upstate’s startup ecosystem cross-pollinating ideas.”
“Our thanks go to UNY50 members Nasir Ali, Mark Barberio, Tim Wilson, Jeff Frankel, Dave Wojeski, and Jeff Valentine for volunteering,” agreed Murdock and Thiemecke, who also mentored.
Many UNY50 members will be attending Bright Buffalo Niagara Entrepreneur Expo on June 28. The deadline to register is Friday, June 23, so get in now! You can learn more and register to attend at http://www.brightbuffaloniagara.com/bright-buffalo-niagara-2017