The World of Gust

Today’s unveiling of Gust, the global infrastructure for early stage entrepreneurial financing, is a milestone that has been seven years in the making. When we originally conceived of a single platform tying together the world’s entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists and supporting organizations, it quickly became apparent that the biggest challenge had nothing to do with technology. Instead it was the proverbial ‘chicken and egg’ question that bedevils all two-sided market place ventures.In the case of startup funding, however, the challenge was an order of magnitude more daunting because the market is completely asymmetrical. It reminds me of the old story of the ham and egg breakfast: when it comes time to prepare the meal, the chicken is interested, but the pig is committed! So is it with entrepreneurs, who are pro-actively committed to raising the capital that, to their minds, can make or break a fledgling company.

In contrast, however, angel investors and venture capitalists simply do not have the interest or time to go out proactively looking on web sites for companies to shower money upon. For that reason, every previous attempt at web sites to intermediate this relationship has been unsuccessful, typically turning into a lead-generation site for people looking to sell things to entrepreneurs (the only ones engaged with the platform.)

Therefore, in conceiving Gust, we recognized that the overwhelming priority had nothing to do with technology or features or buzzwords. Instead it came down to the simple question of “how can you get angel investors and venture capital funds to join and use the platform?” With that challenge in mind, we started market development over seven years ago, under the brand name of Angelsoft, focused single-mindedly on servicing the emerging world of organized angel investors.

Now, with over 35,000 accredited angel investors, over 600 angel investor groups and networks, and over 150 venture capital funds already using the platform, we can finally tie all the pieces together and start the company. Matt Harris of Village Ventures put it perfectly in an article about our launch this morning on Bloomberg News: “As a business plan, having software that investors use and tacking on an entrepreneur-facing entity, that’s sort of the dream, that’s what OpenTable did for restaurants.”

With over 125,000 entrepreneurs already using the platform (courtesy of its Angelsoft heritage), at Gust we are dedicated to serving as both a transactional and educational resource for the whole entrepreneurial finance world. That’s why our video library includes over 300 interviews with some of the world’s leading investors and entrepreneurs offering detailed advice, that’s why we are providing full, free copies of Bill Payne’s industry-standard book “The Definitive Guide to Raising Money from Angels”…and that’s why I take great pleasure in helping kick off the Gust blog, whose regular contributors are some of the wisest voices in the field of startups and startup financing.

Here you’ll find sage advice on business planning from Tim Berry, the author of Business Plan Pro and founder of Palo Alto Software; fascinating perspectives on startup legal challenges from Antone Johnson, one of the sharpest lawyers in Silicon Valley; consistently useful, hands-on advice on the startup financing world from business expert Martin Zwilling, well known to readers of Forbes, Huffington Post, and his own blog, Startup Professional Musings; and finally you’ll hear insights from inside Gust, as our senior management team of Ilana Grossman, Andrei Godoroja, Mark LaRosa, and I give you our perspective on the entrepreneurial finance ecosystem we support. Welcome to Gust!