LA Tech & Startup Event Recap (March 4–10, 2019)
Each week our goal is to close our computers, drop the dry erase markers, get our noses out of books and enter the world, more specifically the City of Los Angeles, California’s Tech and Startup Scene.
Yes, that’s right, networking and interacting with our entrepreneurial peers, competitors and battling for the attention to perk the ears of potential investors.
Our team at BiterraCapital.iowill be looking to attend as many events as possible every week. Follow us as we network, talk to entrepreneurs and investors, review the events and offer our knowledge gained… all while tackling our own journey of building a technology business from scratch and seeking early-stage capital.
If you have an event coming up in Los Angeles or surrounding areas, or just want to say hello — learn how to contact us at the bottom of every article.
Event 1 | Early Stage Fundraising in LA 2019 Panel
Hosted by:@ Early Stage Growth Financial Service
Location: @ ScaleLA
Date:Thursday, March 7, 2019
Moderator:@ Kory Chapelle
Fundraising Panel:@Amiah Sheppard(Back Stage Capital), @Trevor Wilkins(Quake Capital Partners), @Christina Martin (Ikigai Fund), @John Nahm(Strong Ventures, Alexandria Oh(Grid110), Jean-Michel Arnoult(Crowdfunder.com)
- @Early Growth Financial Servicesand @ScaleLAwent pretty much all out on this one — enough food (chicken wings, wraps, pizza) and drinks (water, beer, wine) to feed a small army. But I can say, it was extremely well prepared, because who else decides to show up other than a small army of Los Angeles Entrepreneurs and Startup founders.
- The location itself, ScaleLA’s facility, is a spacious and beautifully laid out work environment. As the Hub of Healthcare Innovation in LA — if you are in #HealthTech / #LifeSciences space, I 100% recommend connecting with the ScaleLA Team or stopping by their office on the Westside tucked on the edge of Culver City near Mar Vista.
- There was a little problem with the audio configuration as microphones were screeching like nails across a chalkboard in the beginning (you’ll see this happen at 1 out of every 5 events — so don’t worry) And as we entrepreneurs and business owners know, we roll with the punches, right.
- The panelist’s increased the volume of their voices instead of the microphone and the night was extremely successful with an abundance of knowledge filling into the minds and notepads of attendees.
- This is my second time attending an event in 2019 that featured a panel specifically talking about early stage fundraising. I can’t say enough about the impressive insight and experience the panelist in the LA Tech community have to offer. (I highly, highly recommend attending events that feature experienced panelists. My 2019 event season kicked off attending Quake Capital’s #WestCoastChallenge — I may have to do a “back in time” post to cover that event’s incredible takeaways the VCs and professionals had to offer)
- In the meantime, Thanks again to the incredible panel and your commitment to Los Angeles Entrepreneurs — I have a lot of key takeaways to share this week!
- There was a lot of talk about “traction” from the panel and it seems that the word is popping up at all stages of investment, whether you’re talking to VCs or Angels — they all want to know “Does the business have traction”
- After a little research — I like beyond others the straight forward definition from an article written by Howard Greenstein where he quotes Angel List co-Founder Naval Ravikant
Traction: Quantitative evidence of market demand.
How to Show Market Traction | https://www.inc.com/howard-greenstein/how-to-show-market-traction.html
- Traction inherently holds the same meaning or definition at all stages of a business, but it’s the representation of traction that is different from an early stage business to a well funded one.
- In our scenario at Biterra Capital and for many other early-stage startups, showing “traction” can be tough or seem unrealistic — “How do you show traction if we don’t have a product yet?”
Solutions To Solving Early Stage Traction:
- Thanks to the great advice from the panel, it got our team really thinking about tractionand maybe that’s one reason we started this article series, so here’s my take — One simple way is to showcase traction is through the market, by stating competitors traction, number of users, ect. (But that’s your competitors’ traction; not directly related to yours.)
- Instead, THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!
- Customer Feedback/Market Surveys: One of the panelists told a story about a young female entrepreneur who didn’t have a complete product. Yet, she showed initiative and went straight to the source, interviewing 300 potential customers to receive feedback and complete market surveys. (Traction!)
- Grow your social media following:Hundreds or thousands of social media followers engaging with you, your brand or your business — creates the potential to convert followers to early product users, beta testers or full out customers (Traction!)
- Digital Content/Newsletter: To echo the above creating free-online-content that is downloadable like ebooks or creating educational and shareable articles/blogs — can again show potential investors that you have a community wanting, engaging and showing an interest in your company and the content you provide. Check out previous Director of Marketing noah kagan’s article on how of how Mint.com grew a 20,000+Waitlist (MAJOR TRACTION!)
Startup Tips: How I grew a waiting list of 20,000+ at Mint.com Part 1 | https://okdork.com/startup-tips-how-i-grew-a-waiting-list-of-20000-at-mintcom-part-i/
- The discussion of Diversity was also brought up multiple times throughout the panel’s discussion. Diversity is definitely a factor that investors are looking at in start-up teams and something entrepreneurs need to consider when hiring early on.
- Let’s put it this way, Investors enjoy seeing a well-rounded team and strong company culture — Intelligent minds from different genders, ages, ethnicities, regions and cultural backgrounds really offer a competitive advantage allowing a team to look at broader picture to problem-solving, addressing consumer markets and the way a company can think outside of the box.
- Diversity has been a hot topic in Silicon Valley for years now and for good reason. There are plenty of articles you can find that elaborate more on the topic and I recommend giving diversity additional thought. Show investors you are not afraid to take on diversity and tackle the world’s problems head on … together.
Roadmap & Milestones.
- One thing investors are going to want to know, is not only how their money is being spent in the near term, but how the business plans to tackle and plan for future rounds of funding. They want to see a clear and concise roadmap of where your business is going
- A note I picked up on was that Investors aren’t just looking at the deal you put in front of them — they’re looking at the next two (2) transactions ahead … and if they believe the founders can strategically plan for growth and close future rounds of funding.
Communicating your business.
(Panelist’s please let me know who stated this quote, so I can properly credit your words on wisdom! )
“Breaking your business down to a human level”
- Apologies — I was at the back of the room at this particular event, so I didn’t have the pleasure of putting the name to the face or in this case the voice.
- I loved this quote and it stuck with me, instantly jotting it down into the notes of my phone. I made this mistake early on in Biterra Capital’s business — where I spoke way too much and way too technical about what our business was trying to do. (Imagine someone walking up to you’ve never met and instantly trying to tell you how to throw a curve ball … “woo woo, slow down.”)
- Find a way to make the business extremely easy to mentally digest in just a few sentences or seconds of speaking.
- You want your audience — even if it’s one person that you’re speaking with to instantly understand your business and give you the “ahhhh I get it. (followed by a question or comparison) — Now that you have their attention and their mind in the right space. Then you have an opportunity to dive deeper as the conversation progresses.
- Don’t word vomit technical terms and lingo. One easy way to break your business down to a human level is to explain it to your younger brother/sister, parents or even grandparents — do they understand? Keep trying until you do and you know you have a winner!
What a rockstar event of panelists, knowledge, food, drinks and more. I highly recommend attending the next event by Early Stage Growth Financial Service and we will keep our readers updated when they host again.
Event 2 | Investors & Entrepreneurs in Los Angeles
Hosted by:@ Paradigm Talks
Location: @ ethos society
Date:Thursday March 5, 2019
Moderator:(please get in contact if you would like to provide contact info)
Startup Business Presenters: YoGov, Spinn.coffee
@ Spare “Get Cash”, @ Trufl, , @ Cloudkeys,
- Although parking is always really tough in Korea Town the building has a parking garage in which I believe paid $6. Inside, @ ethos society has a really unique open floor plan and aesthetically pleasing set up.
- The event started with about an hour long meet and greet where attendees enjoyed wine, beer or water and mingled with each other or presenting businesses.
- This was followed by the “quick pitch,” presenting businesses were given 3–5 minutes to present their business to the crowd. This is extremely helpful for any entrepreneur looking to learn how to “quick pitch” and get see first hands how other businesses are being presented. As always — you’ll see which style of pitching stands out to capture the attention of the audience or loses their interest within the first 30 seconds. (Highly recommend the event for this reason)
- After the quick pitch was complete — it was one of those cases where it seemed there were a lot of entrepreneurs and minimal investors.YET, I found myself staying much later than expected.
- As you may have read in my previous post — sometimes speaking to other entrepreneurs can spark incredible conversations and introductions.
You have three (3) minutes to quick pitch.
- As I cannot yet say that I am a professional presenter myself but I definitely pulled a lot of insight by listening to others quick pitch.
THE DO NOT’s
- The biggest thing not to do… is only talk about the business itself. If you’re pitching to customers maybe this is okay, but know your audience — potential investors. and they want to know more about your business than just what it is or does.
THE TO DO’s:
- Capture the audience’s attention (a lot of times this is the presenter asking a question)
- Provide a quick clear picture of what your business does (the elevator pitch) and then move on and tell the audience more than just what your business does — talk about
- Your team
- State your traction (revenue or customers to date)
- State the market size and potential for growth
- State what you are raising and clearly explain a roadmap as to why
Talk to other entrepreneurs.
- No investor in sight? That’s fine, spark up a conversation with the person standing next to you with the infamous and extremely easy opener: “What brings you here?” or “Hi, do you have a business?”
- I found myself practicing my elevator pitch and talking to some truly intelligent people and passionate entrepreneurs — I’m telling you it might be more fun than grabbing a drink with your friends.
- I want to give a quick shout out to: Lori Jo Underhill
- Whom I found myself speaking to for over an hour and left with a copy of her book. “Defining The Digital Economy” — Looking forward to catching up soon Lori, thanks again!
It will cost you a little cash but trust me it’s the perfect event to “perfect your quick-pitch” and for that reason — I highly recommend.
This weeks article written by: Matthew Estremera
Feel free to reach out anytime.
Co-founder/COO Biterra Capital
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