Dave Culver, CEO of Extraordinary Success LLC, recognized this need for startups who lie somewhere between incubation and Venture Capital, and created the Funding Feeding Frenzy, an event bringing entrepreneurs and investors together to share concepts, gather feedback and interact in a whole new way.
“No one was really doing an event like this that was really focused on the entrepreneur,” says Culver, “and getting them in front of the people who could really make a difference for them.”
The day-long event was held at the sync tech center in Chicago’s West Loop. It began with a keynote speech from Gentry Capital’s CEO, Larry L. Aschebrook, followed by an entrepreneur Q & A with Culver and MC Mark Imperial of Entrepreneur Edge Radio.
Then the real fun began. Companies were divided based on the amount of funding they were looking for: those in the Guppy Bowl were looking for less than $250,000 in seed money, Piranha Pond participants were looking for $250,000- $1.5 million, and the Great White Cage was reserved for companies looking for millions of dollars.
Each company had 8 minutes to present, 3 minutes to recap, and each presentation was followed by a 15 minute Q & A from the panelists, which included investors and venture capitalists. At the end of it all, the presenting company was told by each panelist if they were fundable, still fishing, or the ultimate dis, “go fund yourself.”
The point of the event was not to fund new ventures, but to put entrepreneurs in contact with people who have the capacity to fund companies. Once the investors said if a company was fundable or not, they gave “specific recommendations on what would make a company more fundable,” says Culver. “Which is very important, because that doesn’t happen in most cases.”
But that wasn’t the only unique opportunity Funding Feeding Frenzy had to offer. A VIP ‘Meet the Money’ luncheon was held for all participants and investors, giving them the opportunity to mingle more closely.
After more breakout presentations, and perhaps because of a cocktail hour held between, awards were given for “Best in Show” for each category. Winners were Point Bearing Corporation, Infinity Box, LLC and TIP Solutions, Inc., respectively. Each company won upwards of $15,000 in support and consulting services from the various sponsors of the event.
“I think the word everyone said was ‘awesome,’” says Culver. “By the first series of presenting companies we knew we had delivered well. When we got together to vote on ‘Best in Show,’ everyone was making comments about how great the event was. How it was unlike anything they’d ever been to.”
A big part of the unique environment was in part to the “spirit of willingness to help to grow the Chicagoland entrepreneurial ecosystem,” as Culver calls it. “It was a very open, supportive, dynamic atmosphere.”
Look for more Funding Feeding Frenzy events starting again in late February/early March. You can find more on the event and future events at http://fundingfeedingfrenzy.com/.