Fair Game

On Your Mark . . .

So how does an entrepreneur increase the number of investors who are exposed to his or her company and compress the time frame for raising the oh-so-critical early-stage financing? The answer for Tofano, as well as a growing legion of capital-hungry entrepreneurs, can be found at one of the many venture capital fairs popping up nationwide.

The idea of venture capital fairs is certainly not new. Professional and institutional venture capitalists have held them for years. What is new, according to David Freschman, president of the Delaware Innovation Fund and chairman of a venture fair known as Early Stage East, is the increasing number of venture capital fairs that are catering to early-stage businesses. These fairs are attended by individual angel investors as well as early-stage venture capitalists. Such venues are materializing, Freschman says, because traditional venture capitalists focus largely on more mature companies. "That leaves not only entrepreneurs but also investors in a lurch," he says.

Testimony to the void being filled is Freschman's Early Stage East, which was held in June
in Wilmington, Delaware, with a big boost from the state's Economic Development Office. More than 180 investors from Boston to North Carolina attended the event to rub elbows with 24 entrepreneurs, who were on hand to share their stories and convince investors that investing in their companies would return a multiple of the investment in a very short period of time.

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This article was originally published in the October 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Fair Game.

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