I've been a bit quiet lately, so apologies for that. I've been focusing on a few things ... like getting closer to launching. I'll post more on that soon, but I have a different topic that I want to cover today.
One thing that has always frustrated me as an entrepreneur is the advantage that business people seem to have. Although Groupthink is my eighth startup (and that's not counting Puzzazz), I've never been a business guy and it seems that there's an inherent bias in the startup world toward business types. I say inherent because I don't think it's intentional -- I think it's just that business people have their own language and their way of doing things and it permeates communication. So, despite the fact that I have a great network of contacts, including angel investors and even a few venture capitalists, I've always felt like I've been at a disadvantage.
A while back, when I was working on a business plan for a potential startup, I met up with someone who was also working on a business plan. He was a marketing guy, with limited technology knowledge, so it seemed that we could help each other. His business plan was gorgeous and read well, and it had all the right revenue projections and graphs. Now I'm no slouch as a writer, but mine was dreadful. My plan had accurate descriptions and diagrams of the architecture of the system that I planned to build, and I had a working prototype to go with it. And his plan? He also had some architecture diagrams, but they were basically fiction. I pointed that out to him, but he said it didn't matter -- they were just placeholders and investors wouldn't care. Guess which company got funding?
I'm not saying that technology people like myself are dismissed entirely, but it's certainly a much easier road for people with a business background.
So, I was really pleased to hear about the details of the Northwest Entrepreneurs' Network's First Look Forum (FLF) earlier this week. The FLF replaces the annual Early Stage Investment Forum (ESIF) that NWEN used to run, with some big differences, the biggest one being that it's not an investment forum. NWEN properly recognized that there are already plenty of investment forums in the area, but there was very little for the stage before that. And they recognized that early stage entrepreneurs need more than money -- they need help. The forum is designed to:
- Recognize early stage companies that show promise and could benefit from the process.
- Help the companies to take their idea and make it presentable, through intensive, personal coaching.
- Provide presenting companies an audience of qualified angel investors that they can present to and network with.
- Provide those angel investors with interesting opportunities that they probably haven't heard about before.
- What's the Market and Opportunity?
- What differentiates the concept from others?
- How can the business scale?
- What traction do you have so far?
- Who are you? What's your experience?
Note: Earlier, I said I wasn't going to write about the fundraising process. This blog post doesn't change that. I'll probably write more about the FLF as I go through the process, but I still won't blog about fundraising itself.