Does it seem like every Tom, Dick and Harriet is effortlessly attracting start-up capital while you're struggling to fund your business? "It's a sad reality," says Gustavo G. Dolfino, chairman and CEO of venture capital infomediary P.A. Worthington-Cabott LLP in New York City, but "some of the best ideas never get financed." But don't despair if family and friends can't fill your needs, your bank won't come to your assistance and you don't have access to a business incubator. Others are waiting to help you achieve your goals.
Dolfino, for example, can help "by hooking up entrepreneurial talent with the right funders- who can take it to the next level." He'll put your business plan in the hands of five potential investors who are right for you. Worthington-Cabott submits business plans to databases with access to private equity funds, onestop shops, venture capital funds, angels, endowments and foundations. These are further broken down by industry and geographic preference, type of investment preference, investment portfolio and stage of investment. The service comes at a price.
Dolfino says his firm charges clients $200 to submit business plans to the first five prospects. For an additional $100 a pop, they'll refer you to attorneys, accountants and professionals who will attend the initial presentation.
Similarly, Vcapital.com determines the appropriate VCs for your opportunity through its matching process and guides your project, from drafting a brief proposal to setting up a meeting with potential investors. The site enables you to prepare an iDeal Summary (a synopsis of your business plan), while staffers provide feedback on your complete business plan, offer advice and refer your opportunity to venture capital firms. Vcapital.com, established by venture capitalists, charges a one-time fee of $200.
Were you hoping for something less costly? How about free? BusinessFinance.com can do that for you. Designed to assist entrepreneurs in locating funding sources, the site directs you to venture capital, investment funds, equipment leasing or financing and even helps secure a loan or government funds. The site features a capital search engine to find funding sources that specialize in your industry, size, stage and amount; provides a free workbook teaching you how to prepare and present a funding request; discusses government programs; and suggests other resources and experts. There is no charge for the service, but you've got to do most of the work yourself.
Paul DeCeglie (MrWritePDC@aol.com) is a former staff reporter for Journal of Commerce and American Banker.