Question: I've heard investor conferences can be good places to find capital for startup tech companies like mine. Any advice on which ones to attend? How much do they typically cost?
Answer: If you have a good idea and a solid business plan, VC and investor conferences can be excellent places to find the money you need to get your tech company started. Gatherings like these attract both VCs and angel investors who are looking to invest in promising young companies in hopes of finding one destined for MySpace- or YouTube-like fame. Typically, these conferences charge modest fees of $100 to $250 for startups and early stage companies that want to pitch their ideas to potential backers.
Alan Brody, president of iBreakfast.com, a forum for web-focused entrepreneurs and angel investors, says the best strategy for finding investors at conferences is to identify them at breakout sessions (either by the questions they ask or by what they say as panelists) and buttonhole them in the hallway afterward. "Try to catch them when they're walking the halls and won't be mobbed," Brody suggests. "They'll be impressed when you casually align your plan with the kinds of investments they like to make."
Don't hit potential investors with a 100-page business plan. "A one-page executive summary is good, but don't overwhelm people with stuff until they're ready for it," Brody warns. "No one invests in desperate entrepreneurs, and no one wants to carry around your bible until they get back to the office." To find a list of investor conferences, check out http://venturecapitalconferences.com/conferences.php.
Rosalind Resnick is the founder and CEO of Axxess Business Consulting, a New York City consulting firm that advises startups and small businesses. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her website, abcbizhelp.com.