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Big Fish, Big Pond

How to attract seed capital for your high-tech start-up

Ask not what Guy Kawasaki knows about starting up a high-tech venture; ask what does he not know. Kawasaki's list of accomplishments is staggering: He's the former chief evangelist for Apple Computers, founder of software companies ACIUS Inc. and Fog City Software Inc., angel investor for five other tech companies, seven-time author, and, last but not least, founder, chairman and CEO of Inc. Whew.

Housed in an 1893 Queen Anne-style home deep in the heart of Silicon Valley, California, acts as a liaison and advisor for high-tech start-up companies looking for seed capital (usually between $3 million and $5 million) from venture capitalists, corporate investors and angel investors. Member companies complete a lengthy and thorough application process, culminating in a face-to-face meeting. Once in, pertinent info is available for viewing by prescreened member investors looking for opportunities. And though provides advice and resources on everything from business models to the financing process, once investors and entrepreneurs begin negotiations, they're on their own as far as actual terms and valuations.

The company also conducts its Bootcamp for Startups seminar several times a year with speakers from, Silicon Valley Bank and other high-tech figures and entrepreneurs espousing their start-up wisdom.

"Seed-level investments enable a company to create a prototype, form alliances and close their first sales. These milestones then help them receive more capital to go on to the next stage," explains Kawasaki, who co-founded with Craig Johnson and Rich Karlgaard. "We look for strengths in three areas: the potential in the idea for either creating or capturing a market, the educational or work experience of the key players, and whether the technology is 'cool.' Is it world-class, curve-jumping or yet another search engine?"

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