News Column

Panelists Offer Tips on Startup Fundraising

December 4, 2012

Nancy Dahlberg

Want advice on raising startup funding? How about hearing from those who have been there, done that.

Refresh Miami's all-star panel brought it home for entrepreneurs: Success or failure is all on you, and don't blame living in Miami.

"You are either a victim or a player. If you are a good entrepreneur, the money will come to you," said Marco Giberti, an entrepreneur and investor with Accelerated Growth Partners.

With that out of the way, the panelists -- Dan Quezada of CareCloud, "Tigre" Wenrich of Open English, Will Weinraub of LiveNinja and Richard Grundy of Flomio and Giberti -- had lots of advice:

Do your homework. Study the fund-raising strategies of successful companies in your space. Read Venture Deals by Brad Feld. Don't start raising money until you have a prototype and proven business model.

You don't always have to be traditional -- Flomio just raised $96,000 on Kickstarter. Practice, practice, practice your communication skills. And perhaps most important: Do your due diligence on your prospective investor, because the wrong pairing can do more harm than good.

It's a learning process. Even CareCloud and OpenEnglish, companies that have raised tens of millions in venture funding, have made a few missteps.

Fundraising was also one of the underlying themes of the Enterprise Development Corp's all-day Emerging Technology Business Showcase on Friday, where 18 South Florida startups presented their pitch decks to investors, mentors and fellow entrepreneurs from the stage of a Hilton Hotel ballroom in Deerfield Beach . A panel of a venture capitalist, angel investors and a founder -- John Duffy of 3Cinteractive, Raj Kulkarni of New World Angels, Richard Licursi of venVelo fund and Casey A. Swercheck of the Florida Growth Fund -- provided advice on raising money and debated the current state of the industry over lunch.

Their message: Start thinking about and planning for your Series A round of financing now, even if you are still in the seed stage. You need to be begin developing your network and forming your pipeline.

Panelists said they were seeing increasing VC interest in solutions in healthcare IT, data analytics and software as a service, and a very decreased appetite for clean tech, biotech and pharmaceutical solutions.

And what about equity crowdfunding? Swercheck said it could be helpful to entrepreneurs, particularly small businesses such as your neighborhood pizza restaurant, but VCs see nightmares ahead for high-growth companies that go that route and later seek venture funding. Other developments last week:

-- Got a great idea for a tech project or other initiative that will help the community too? The Awesome Foundation's Miami chapter is now taking applications for its monthly $1,000 grants. Read more here.

-- Little Heroes won third place in the nationwide Small Business Challenge put on by and others. Also, there were three winners in the $100 Startup Competition. Read more about both winners here.

-- TekFight is an all new martial arts-style entrepreneurship event coming to MDC on Dec. 7. Read a Q&A with Saif Ishoof, one of the cofounders.

Source: (c) 2012 The Miami Herald. Distributed by MCT Information Services

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