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Hunting Season

A play-by-play look at one entrepreneur's presentation to a venture capitalist
January 1, 2001
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/35246

Most entrepreneurs look forward to a presentation to a VC like they look forward to a swift kick in the pants. For 34-year-old Jack Crawford Jr., founder of CampusEngine.com, a developer of Internet portals for college campus newspapers, the experience was a little more exciting. In an effort to get funding for his Folsom, California, company, he appeared on the nationally syndicated PBS program MoneyHunt. Pitching his idea in front of a panel of industry experts, Crawford earned CampusEngine a $100,000 investment and a slew of other benefits. How did he do it? Here's the play-by-play:

FEBRUARY 2000: Crawford attends the local Sacramento Valley Forum and hears about the Golden State Capital Conference, a chance to compete with 300 Northern California companies for a spot on MoneyHunt. "We submitted our company four weeks before the Golden State," remembers Crawford. "We were selected a week later."

MARCH 28-29, 2000: Crawford presents CampusEngine.com at the Golden State Capital Conference with a 10-minute Power Point presentation. Immediately following his time on stage, Crawford is interviewed, on camera, by MoneyHunt creator and co-host Miles Spencer with a series of rapid-fire questions. "The off-stage interview provides the type of high-pressure environment you face when you're actually in investor presentations," explains Crawford. According to Spencer, the MoneyHunt crew visited 25 nationwide events and accepted online applications in order to select contestants. The show chose 26 possible contestants from a pool as large as 2,000. Only five finalists would actually make it to the show.

APRIL 2000: CampusEngine sends its story to MoneyHunt, and Crawford begins to prepare himself for the grueling question-and-answer session he'll face on the show. "You knew you were going to be asked questions, but you didn't know which questions," says Crawford. "The MoneyHunt group was certainly going to be business-savvy and industry-savvy, and they knew a lot about our company already because they researched it."

JUNE 13, 2000: Crawford makes his first appearance on MoneyHunt, where he is interviewed by Spencer, co-host Cliff Ennico and an industry expert. His performance lands him a position on the last show and a chance to compete for the $100,000. "It was great exposure for the company," says Crawford. "Then I realized there really was a prize riding on my questions."

JUNE 14, 2000: CampusEngine.com is unanimously chosen as the $100,000 prizewinner after another eight-minute grill from the show's hosts and a venture capitalist. While CampusEngine had taken in its first round of funding before it appeared on the MoneyHunt show, it now serves more than 1.8 million students at 90-plus college campuses nationwide and, at press time, expected sales of $1.5 million for 2000. With its vote of confidence on MoneyHunt, CampusEngine's outlook is good. "The whole experience was so exciting," says Crawford. "It was an absolute validation from the investment community."

Up To Snuff

THINK YOU'VE GOT WHAT MoneyHunt is looking for? According to Miles Spencer, creator and co-host of the show, likely contestants have the following three characteristics:
A great idea that is easily expressed. (Jack Crawford Jr., founder of CampusEngine.com and recent winner, suggests having a spiel that can convey the basics of the business in only 30 seconds.)
An opportunity for a breakaway business.
Charisma that the camera loves.
You can get the full scoop as well as view past episodes of the show at www.moneyhunt.com, or check out MoneyHunt: 27 New Rules for Creating and Growing a Breakaway Business (HarperBusiness) by Miles Spencer and Cliff Ennico. "