Friday, November 21, 2014

Benefits of Losing Seattle Angel Conference

I’m Dallas Jasper, CEO of Connect2Classes.  
"The whole process is a learning experience; it is well organized and attended by people truly interested in supporting start-ups."
We participated in SAC VI which ended on November 12 and I highly recommend other entrepreneurs to consider applying.

How SAC works

First of all, if you don’t know the process here it is:
·       40+ companies apply
·       An initial review is made and (approx) 25 companies are asked to do a 3 minute presentation
·       The investors meet and invite 12 companies to do a 10 minute presentation
·       Again the investors meet and 6 companies are assigned a Deal Lead and invited to enter Due Diligence, and then to present at the final conference.

How to Prep: 3min vs 10min

We did not win, but we did make it to the final 6.  Here are some of my thoughts:

Clearly being asked to do a 3 minute presentation is tough – how can you properly represent your company in 3 minutes?  You have to think of this stage as exactly what it is – a gate to the next stage.  Your goal is to get through the gate and move on.  The best way to do that is to be yourself and show the best of what you do, what you plan to do, how your company will succeed and investors benefit.  Three minutes goes really fast – make sure your most important points are first – if you run out of time you will be asked to stop.  Don’t try to memorize something, it will come off as stiff and unnatural and the first real hurdle is for the judges to trust you!
In contrast, when you are prepping for the 10 minute presentation, you may feel that you have the luxury to be more wordy; be careful that 10 minutes still goes very fast!  At this point you will be expected to tell a story that starts with a large problem and ends with a large number of people paying you to solve that problem.  You will need to be very clear on the numbers: how big is the market, how much will people pay you to solve their problem, what will it cost you to reach these customers, and how do those numbers grow over time?

Q&A Session More Important than You Think

The Q&A portion of the ten minute presentation is very important.  You need to be able to answer the questions quickly and succinctly.  Some of the questions can be tough as the audience is knowledgeable in many markets.

Major Benefit of Just Going Through Due Diligence-  

If you are fortunate to get to the final six, you will be assigned a due diligence team and a Deal Lead.   For us, this is the point at which we started to really benefit from the process.   I can’t say enough good things about our deal team.  We met with them in person twice and spoke and emailed constantly for 3 weeks. They dug into every area of our business and encouraged us to move forward on things we had been thinking about.  

Driven to Traction and Revenue in 3 Weeks! 

If you have done any investigation into SAC, you will know that traction is very important.  We went into the first presentation without paying customers, just free trials.  During the due diligence, the team encouraged us to convert our free trials into paying customers, and by the end of the 3 weeks we had converted about one third of them.  We discovered that our free trials were getting a lot of value from our site.  By the final presentation we were able to show that we had paying customers and that those customers represented sales that proved out our business model.

Engaging Other Investors

The Final Presentation is open to the public and offers lots of opportunity to engage with other companies, investors and people who are interested in what you are doing.  It was great to hear quick updates from the previous SAC winners and to see how far they had come since their investment.  If you get to this point remember, that your presentation needs to show the SAC Investors what you have done since your last presentation, but also tell the whole story to other potential investors in the room.  You never know who might be interested.

Totally Worth It! 

While we did not win, we did benefit from the experience, met some great people and moved our product forward.   We truly appreciated the time and effort of the SAC team, as well as our due diligence team. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Portland startup takes prize at Seattle Angel Conference

Portland startup takes prize at Seattle Angel Conference


_Portland Business Journal

Nov 14, 2014, 7:23am PST Updated: Nov 14, 2014, 7:39am PST
Portland startup Energy Storage Systems was the winner at this week's Seattle Angel Conference. The three-year-old firm has developed a cost-effective, energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly battery system using iron can power light industrial, agricultural and commercial facilities.

Portland-based Energy Storage Systems has secured a $135,000 investment ....more

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Seattle Angel Conference VI Invests in Portland-Based Energy Storage Systems

More than 100 new angel investors have awarded nearly one million dollars since 2012

SEATTLE, WA. – November 13, 2014
The Seattle Angel Conference announced today that Portland-based Energy Storage Systems was selected as the winner of its sixth investment competition.  The three year old startup that builds efficient battery technology will receive a $135,000 investment award from the Seattle Angel Conference VI LLC.  Five other companies also presented at the conference held on Wednesday.

Energy Storage Systems has developed an extremely cost-effective energy management system that combines a safe, abundant and non-toxic iron electrolyte with their patented flow cell design. “Taking first place is significant for not only our company but other hardware centric startups facing a tougher investment environment based on the success of Pacific Northwest software companies,” said Craig Evans, CEO, Energy Storage Systems.  “Receiving recognition from Seattle angel investors is an important step in helping to complete our funding.”

In less than three years, the Seattle Angel Conference has invested more than one million dollars in 7 Washington State firms across a wide range of industries.  Amazingly the money has come from about 100 investors out of the approximately 75,000 King County residents who are federally qualified to be Angel investors.

“I congratulate Energy Storage Systems on their first place investment prize, and want to acknowledge all six finalists for making it to our final round,” said Keith Laepple, Seattle Angel Conference VI LLC’s volunteer fund manager. “I’m also proud of the insightful work by this fall’s investor group, over half of whom have now grown the ranks of Seattle’s angel community through their first-time participation in Seattle Angel Conference VI. This demonstrates how angel investor skills and confidence develop quickly through fun, facilitated due diligence collaboration, drawing upon the group’s varied expertise and backgrounds.'”

Here were the other finalists selected by the investment team to deliver ten-minute business plan pitches:

Connect2Classes- Connect2Classes™ is the one place class providers can list their classes knowing people will find them; the place where potential students are looking for local and online classes.

NorthAmerica TALK- NorthAmerica Talk builds community social networks.

PotaVida- PotaVida lowers the cost of access to safe water in disasters and urban slums, and enables program evaluation by automating the collection and reporting of usage data.

The Hub Edu- The HubEdu is an online learning community where faculty and students in higher education can collect, connect and collaborate.

THIRD & Loom- Third & Loom is a vertically integrated designer label that democratizes haute couture by letting clients become fashion designers.

“The Seattle Angel Conference is focused on growing the ecosystem for startups by helping to provide early capital for the large number of startups and incubators in our region,” said John Sechrest, founder of the Seattle Angel Conference. “We’re fortunate to have a large pool of residents that are able to invest in local companies and I look forward to working with many more new investors in the future.”

Events sponsors include Barker Hostetler, Ater Wynne, Thinkspace, Impact Hub Seattle, 9 Mile Labs, S@, Surf Incubator, Startup Poker 2.0, SeedInvest, Startup Seattle, WTIA and AWS.

This year’s finalist companies were selected from over 40 companies based throughout Washington that applied to compete at the Seattle Angel Conference 2014. A rigorous selection process was undertaken by a group of angel investors to select the finalist companies. An angel investor is a qualified individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. In the Seattle Angel Conference case, the investment vehicle is convertible debt. The Seattle Angel Conference introduces new Angels to the process of Angel investing through education and participation.

The next Seattle Angel Conference is expected to be held May 21, 2015.  All Washington startups and interested investors should inquire in December about participating in the next round of educational events, trainings, and competition.  Deadline for applications will be February 24, 2015.

About the Seattle Angel Conference
Each Seattle Angel Conference culminates a 5 month program to educate and train accredited investors as exemplary angel investors through workshops, hands-on practice and mentoring.  The Seattle Angel Conference is an investor driven conference, connecting new angel investors with early stage and seed businesses in the Greater Seattle Area.  The Seattle Angel Conference introduces qualified investors to the potential, process and rewards of angel investing, and equally importantly, works to encourage, accelerate and coach startup companies in the Seattle areas and across the Northwest. For more information see 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Susan Preston to Keynote Seattle Angel Conference VI

Leading Angel Investing Educator and Consultant to speak on Angel Investing

Susan just received the Small Business Person of the Year for 2014 from the Small Business Council of America.  She was honored along with five Congressional representatives in the nation’s capital.  

 Susan Preston is manager of the newly founded Seattle Angel Fund, and is the General Partner for the CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund. The Angel Fund is focused on seed/start-up stage investments in clean energy technology.  Susan is a world-recognized expert in angel financing and angel organizations. Susan has spent most of her career in senior management positions in public and private companies, from general counsel to CEO.  She has also been a partner in two national law-firms and is a patent attorney.  Susan is also the Buerk Endowed Fellow for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington.
Susan is the author of numerous articles, white papers and books on angel financing. Her most recent book, Angel Financing for Entrepreneurs, Early-stage Funding for Long-Term Success was released by Wiley Publishing in March 2007, and her first book, Angel Investment Groups, Networks and Funds: A Guidebook to Developing the Right Angel Organization for Your Community, a comprehensive guidebook on the establishment and operation of angel investment groups, for which she has received numerous accolades, was published by the Kauffman Foundation in 2004.
She has been and continues to be a national and international consultant and speaker on economic development, angel and venture financing for numerous countries and NGOs including the EU, OECD, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Industry Canada and EBAN. She was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation for 6 years and continues to serve as a consultant, specifically focusing on initiatives related to angel investing and angel organizations.
Susan has held several board positions with public and privately held corporations, and has served on numerous non-profit boards. Ms. Preston has been profiled in Red Herring, Inc. magazine, Smart Money, Worth and other local and national publications; and has contributed to numerous nationally published articles on angel investing. Ms. Preston is the founder of Seraph Capital Forum, the first all-women's angel investment organization.
She is the architect of the Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs Act, a bi-partisan federal income tax credit bill for private equity investing, which was introduced in the House and Senate in 2006 and 2007, and has been re-introduced in the current Congressional session.

Ms. Preston received her JD, cum laude, from Seattle University School of Law and her BS, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in Microbiology and Public Health from Washington State University.

Bob Crimmins to MC Seattle Angel Conference VI

Reprising his Role for the 4th Time

 Bob Crimmins returns to the Seattle Angel Conference as MC, bringing his insight and wit to the proceedings that will share the core business plans, and reveal the due diligence and investor questions about the 6 finalist businesses.

About Bob Crimmins:

Bob Crimmins is a lifelong technologist and serial entrepreneur. Bob has founded five investor-backed companies.  Bob is devoted to fostering a women/girl-friendly tech and startup environment and is a founding board member of Seattle Women in Tech. Closer to home, Bob is sharing the lessons of entrepreneurship with his 12-year-old daughters as they work together on, a pet product they invented.  Bob is also the chief instigator of the popular founder networking events, Founder to Founder and Startup Poker 2.0. While Bob talks a lot about business models, customer acquisition and team building these days, he is a geek at heart. He wrote his first computer program in BASIC on punch cards in 1978 when it was neither cool nor lucrative to be a teenage programmer. Bob teaches, coaches and mentors dozens of entrepreneurs and startups through his work with TechStars, Startup Weekend, TiE Young Entrepreneur Program, Women in Tech and as a formal advisor to a number of Northwest companies.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Rahul Sood to Capstone Seattle Angel Conference VI

Rahul Sood, Creator of Microsoft Ventures, CEO of Unikrn will capstone the Sixth Seattle Angel Conference with a Fireside Chat about his approach to entrepreneurship.

 Rahul Sood is the CEO of Unikrn, a Seattle based gaming related startup.

Microsoft Ventures Creator 

Previous to Unikrn, Sood joined Microsoft in January of 2011. He created the first incubation fund for startups at Microsoft, and eventually Microsoft consolidated their global startup activities under Sood’s leadership. In June of 2013 he launched Microsoft Ventures.


Serial Entrepreneur

 A serial entrepreneur, Sood spent 18 years in multiple startups prior to joining Microsoft. He founded luxury and gaming computer manufacturer VoodooPC, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in September of 2006. Voodoo brought the ENVY product line to HP, contributing advanced technologies, such as commercial liquid cooling, and an increased focus on design. Sood is a co-founder of BrightSquid Medical, a unique collaboration platform for medical professionals, which was subsequently acquired by NetworksMD. He co-founded BrightSquid Dental, which was spun out of the medical business in 2010. Sood also created BullsOnWallstreet, a trading and education platform for retail investors and traders, and he is an active angel investor in a number of small Canadian-based energy companies. Sood sits on the board of advisors for Razer, a company that is widely known for taking over where Voodoo left off.