What are the biggest global events for Venture Capitalists and Business Angels where they can learn about their own business?

There are surprisingly few such conferences, for the very good reason that there are actually relatively few such people (venture capitalists and ‘professional’ angel investors) to attend them! But that said, here are the biggest (i.e., “only” :-) events of their type):

Business Angels
Angel Capital Association (US) Annual Summit
This is the big one, which rotates among different cities in the US each year. Leaders and active members of all the major North American angel groups attend this three day conference, along with a large delegation of international business angels. Sessions are all about how to improve angel investing and manage angel groups, as well as connecting with other industry players and getting technical presentations. The first day is full of optional educational seminars from The Power of Angel Investing series, developed by the Angel Resource Institute. Read more

The Raise: Fundraising Tips from Investors and Entrepreneurs

The Raise: Fundraising Tips from Investors and Entrepreneurs
The 85-Percent
Thursday, February 27, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (EST)
New York, NY

Navigating the fundraising process can often seem daunting, like you’re trying to make your way through a labyrinth of investors, lawyers, and business advisors. Join Women In Music and The 85-Percent on February 27th for an in-depth discussion on how to start the fundraising process and navigate the world of startup investing. Ilana Grossman, Gust’s VP of Marketing, will reveal expert fundraising tips alongside a panel of investors and successful entrepreneurs. You’ll learn the nuts and bolts of obtaining startup funding, including:

  • Timing your raise
  • Designing an outreach plan to potential investors
  • Qualities investors look for in startups
  • Creating and delivering your pitch
  • Overcoming hurdles when raising capital
  • What happens after the investment


Reserve your seat now. 

How To Decide If A Celebrity Can Help Your Venture

Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield via Wikipedia

Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield via Wikipedia

Most startups dream of attracting a celebrity endorsement, and assume that it will take their startup to the stars. Startups such as Chirpify have managed to flourish and raise millions with endorsements from folks like Lil Wayne and Snoop Lion. Others go the way of 12Society, an LA subscription commerce startup with six celebrity sponsors, but still couldn’t get any traction.

Startups using celebrities is such a hot topic these days that Gary Vaynerchuck, noted author and entrepreneur, has coined a new term “star-ups” for the phenomenon. New books are popping up on the subject of how and when to seek celebrity endorsements, including “Will Work for Shoes,” a popular one by Susan J. Ashbrook, who has courted celebrities for twenty years. Read more

Martin Zwilling , Founder and CEO, Startup Professionals
February 23rd, 2014

Is gust.com a difficult platform to replicate?

The answer is noyes, and it’s irrelevant. :-)

Back in the days of the dinosaurs, my first software company was in the wireless communications space (when that meant “pagers”, not “smartphones”), and our product let you type a message on your computer and send it to a pager, using a very simple protocol known as “TAP”. We were—by far—the market leader in the industry (providing the software for Motorola, Nextel, Apple, Sprint, etc.) despite having lots of competitors. When people would ask a similar question back then about the difficulty of software development, my usual response was “anyone can write a TAP program over a weekend that will work with 80% of the paging systems in the world…but getting it to work on the other 20% will take you a year.”

With that in mind… Read more

What are some key points to look for when reviewing an investment offer in your startup?

There are two separate and distinct sets of things that you need to look at when evaluating an offer.

The first, and most important, has to do with who the investment is from. It is impossible to over-emphasize the value of “smart money” and “good money” over “dumb money” and “evil money”. You should do at least as much diligence on your potential investor as they are doing on you. You should check references (speak with as many of their portfolio CEOs as you can, cold-calling them preferably), read everything written about them, and that they have written. Have long talks with them about what they are looking for in the relationship, what your respective ideas are when it comes to exits and long-term management of enterprise, and how much dry powder they are keeping for future follow-on investments. Above all, look for unimpeachable integrity and strong personal chemistry, so that you will both feel comfortable when there are tough decisions to be made. Read more

Can Your Startup Flourish Despite Business Chaos?

Every startup founder I know talks about the chaos of their business, which they usually attribute to that burst of growth that is required to get to positive cash flow. They envision a stable environment after that point, and may have convinced themselves that they will be safer and happier with a livable income, maintaining a loyal but flat customer base.

Sadly, this false perception often leads to the death of their business, or at least the end of their tenure as CEO. I “second the message” that chaos never subsides, from a couple of successful entrepreneurs, Clate Mask and Scott Martineau, in their book “Conquer the Chaos.” Your only choice is to live with it, and find a way to conquer it. Read more

Martin Zwilling , Founder and CEO, Startup Professionals
February 16th, 2014

Is it possible for an idea to be funded by a VC?

While anything is technically possible, the reality is that venture capital firms do not fund “ideas”. There are many wonderful ideas, and even many people having the same idea in the market at any given time. So what VCs fund is execution. Indeed, VCs only invest in one out of every 400 fully-formed companies that approach them for funding…let alone someone with a “startup idea”. Read more