The way IBM SmartCamp works is the startup entrepreneurs make their pitches to venture capitalists, get feedback on the pitches, get deep advice on their business plans, and pitch again. The best pitch wins.
Today, the entrepreneurs took turn giving their first round of pitches. So, lots of PowerPoint presentations. Some nervous CEOs. Others sounding calm and collected. Here’s Ronald Zhang, president of Palmap, a Shanghai startup focusing on collecting and integrating data for indoor mobility mapping apps–for use in shopping malls, airports, schools and the like. He spoke before making his pitch to the VCs.
(L to R) Mark Fernandes, managing director, Sierra Ventures; Mark Gorenberg, managing director, Hummer-Winblad Venture Partners; Don Wood, managing director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson; Promod Haque, managing partner, Norwest Venture Partners.
Q: What captures your attention?
Fernandes: Like any sales call, you have to go in with a referral from somebody I know and trust. I don’t go into a meeting without looking into somebody’s LinkedIn profile.
Gorenberg: We do take some meetings over the transom, but it has to be a big idea. It has to be transformational.
Wood: Be sure to get in front of the investor in person. Don’t talk by phone. We look for the magnetism and the spark of the entrepreneur. That carries the day.
Haque: Sometimes the referrals come from customers. We maintain relationships with a lot of CIOs. We want to talk to entrepreneurs who have at least validated their ideas with potential customers.
Here’s Don Wood of DFJ, talking about that his firm looks for in an entrepreneur:
Bill Reichert, managing director, Garage Technology Ventures
Fundraising in a New Ear of Venture Capital
“The good news is given where you are now your odds of raising capital have been raised dramatically. Being in SmartCamp raises your profile. The bad news is it’s a very very hard environment for raising capital.”
The Winner’s Journey
Insights from 2010’s Winners
Panelists: Zia Yusuf, CEO, Streetlline; Albert Santalo, CEO, CareCloud; and Ashifi Gogo, CEO, Sproxil.
Moderator: Victor Westerlind, Rockport Capital.
Santalo: We started off aiming to be the Salesforce.com of healthcare, but now we see that we can use technology to transform the healthcare system. “Entrepreneurship is an act of faith, not an act of logic. You have to see the door and run through it.”
Gogo: We connect consumers with brand owners in the pharmaceutical industry. That way consumers can be assured that what they’re buying is the real thing, not a counterfeit drug, and it’s safe to use. We’re now operating in Ghana, Kenya and India.
Yusuf: There are a lot of startups coming into smarter cities. We’re creating an ecosystem that makes the play work. We have a partnership with IBM, and we’re together building an enabling ecosystem around what we’re doing. Over time you have partners come in and build even more value.
Gerry Mooney, General Manager, IBM Global Smarter Cities
Smarter Cities 2.0: The Next Wave.
Much of the growth in new markets comes from the entrepreneurial companies who are building the new applications.
IBM is an integrator. In the Smarter Planet sphere, the integrator can take new technologies and services to market more quickly than the startups can. So IBM has a strategy of forming partnerships with innovative startups, and, in some cases, buying them.
Silicon Valley Bank has grown up with Silicon Valley. Founded 30 years ago, at a time when many startups had trouble getting checking accounts, it is now one of the top 50 banks in the US with $35 billion in assets. It does business with 70% of the startups in the country and now has offices in India, China and the UK.
Gerald Brady, head of the entrepreneur services group at the bank, says, “Most banks look at us and don’t understand how we make money backing startups. We find great companies, we help you grow and we try to keep you.” For example, in the 1980s, the bank backed a husband and wife team with a $50,000 loan. Their company became Cisco Systems, and SVB is still one of Cisco’s banks.
By Vol Pigrukh
Co-founder and CEO of Profitero,
IBM SmartCamp UK and Ireland winner
Editor’s note: Vol Pirrukh leads one of the contestants in the IBM SmartCamp competition world finals this week (Jan. 31, Feb. 1 and 2) in San Francisco. Nine startups from around the world will compete for fame and expert advice. To follow the event virtually, return to A Smarter Planet for liveblogging, view livestreaming video and follow the Twitter hashtags #IBM SmartCamp and #startups.
Yes, it’s true; our company name did come from those delicious little cakes – profiteroles. When we were brainstorming the name of our start-up we all liked “profiteroles” because it has “profit” and “the cherry on top” – i.e. sweetness – in it. But it was a bit too long and the domain Profiteroles.com was taken. So we sent a survey to over 100 friends to pick their favorite name from a few alternatives and “Profitero” got the most votes. Continue Reading »
By Bill Reichert
Garage Technology Ventures
Editor’s note: Bill Reichert is one of a group of venture capitalists, business leaders and entrepreneurs who will be participating in the IBM SmartCamp competition world finals this week (Jan. 31, Feb. 1 and 2) in San Francisco. Nine startups from around the world will compete for fame and expert advice. To follow the event virtually, return to A Smarter Planet for liveblogging, view livestreaming video and follow the Twitter hashtags #IBM SmartCamp and #startups.
If you have only a few seconds to communicate the essence of your company to a potential investor, what do you say? Continue Reading »