What You Need to Know About "So-Called Free Events: For nearly 17 years, with more than 70 consecutive full-booked events behind us, we have clearly demonstrated, as is true with most things in life, “it is not what or if you pay, but what you get for what you pay.” We all know the expression “If something is too good to be true, it probably is.” Is it the real thing or just a placebo? Although we wish it could be, ours is not a free event - for either for us to underwrite or for you to participate. Please keep in mind that any investor venue that offers the opportunity to present for free is ONLY free for those who are selected from, what is in most cases, hundreds of companies that have applied. And if you are NOT selected, the fact that it was free to present made absolutely no difference - and you are back to the open-end costs of hiring an investment banker or knocking on the doors of investors with perhaps little or no entrée.
Will You be Presenting to a Room Full of Vendors and Other Entrepreneurs, or to Investors: In many venues, companies that are selected to present for free are then charged up to $1,500 per person for each member of the management team who attends. So was it really free to present? Clearly not. Conferences of our class cost tens of thousands of dollars to produce. Accordingly someone has to pay for them - raising the question, are presenting companies at free venues getting a real benefit? Are they talking to an audience of bona fide investors, as is the case with our events, or to seats that are packed full of vendors and service providers who have funded the venue? What is a free bag of potatoes worth, if there are no potatoes in the bag? In fact, ours are one of the few funding venues in the country that actually provide participating entrepreneurs with detailed contact information on all investors attending our events, along with our assistance in the follow-up process. Attendance transparency at most other investor forums is virtually non-existent. Another question that entrepreneurs must ask is “to the extent that investors are in attendance, are they there primarily to judges, speakers or panelists… or are they there to see deals? - which is the case with our events.
When Free is not Really Free: For those entrepreneurs who do not make the cut to present at "so-called" free events, then in most cases, they need to pay to be there - generally from about $1,000 to $1,500 per person. One “free to present if selected event” in San Francisco is charging the “not-chosen to present entrepreneurs” $4,995 just to attend with special VIP access to investors at dinners. In addition, this conference requires entrepreneurs (start-ups or otherwise) who are relegated to non-presenter status, to pay $5,000 or $8,000 for an Exhibit Table if they want visibility.
Entrepreneurs who are philosophically opposed to paying to present are entrusting themselves to be chosen by an individual or committee, whom they will usually never meet or be able to interact with until the selection process is over, thus cosigning themselves to a vetting process over which they have no control or influence as to whether they will have a chance to present to investors. In fact, what they have done is “totally outsourced” the decision as to the investment potential of their company. To present at our events, entrepreneur applicants are able to vigorously interact with us and are selected based upon their “individual merit - not graded on a curve” and do not need to win a competition based upon some subjective definition of "The Best". I wonder if Cisco Systems, Amazon, Google, e-Bay or Starbucks would have made it through a presenter selection contest. Looking at the number of VCs who turned many of them down, I would say probably not…
WE SIMPLY WANT TO SEE QUALIFIED COMPANIES BASED UPON REASONABLE CRITERIA (SUCH AS SCALABILITY AND PROPRIETARY ADVANTAGE) WHICH WE BELIEVE ARE LIKELY TO RESONATE WITH A GOOD PERCENTAGE OF OUR INVESTORS AND ARE RUN BY ENTREPRENEURS WHO UNDERSTAND BOTH THE PRUDENCE AND WISDOM OF INTELLIGENTLY COMMITTING SOME DOLLARS TO ACCELERATE THEIR CAPITAL RAISING.
Will Management have Access to ALL Investors, without having to Pay Thousands of Dollars for Special VIP Access: In addition to the fact that our events are NOT heavily populated with vendors and service providers, it is important to note that ALL of the entrepreneurs at our forums have an “equal opportunity” to personally engage with investors throughout the event; and are NEVER relegated to being in a paid-for “Demo Pit” outside the main conference area, with the hope of perhaps being selected to present for no fee. As further described below and documented in the 100+ Entrepreneur Testimonials posted at www.privateequityforums.com/index.html#!mikesegal-mike-segal-testimonials/crj5, every one of our visibility options, irrespective of the cost, guarantee entrepreneurs “full and easy access” to all of the capital sources attending as well as an extremely high profile at the event. At no time during our forums, are any investors ever sequestered from entrepreneurs in private VIP areas or at our event functions, such as the Luncheon and Dinner/Reception, where a special high payment is required to gain access, as is the case at certain other conferences.
Editorial Comment and Event Overview: In fact, the key element of our prestigious venues is that ALL entrepreneurs, whether or not they are Presenters, have a chance to get to know each of the Angels and Partners of the investment groups on a personal level, which then opens the door to establishing your credentials and sharing management’s vision for the company. The agenda allows approximately 6 hours of unstructured time for socialization and networking, which will give you an extended window to tell your story, while forging relationships with the individual investors and principals of the VCs & private equity funds in attendance.
Moreover, companies participating at our events are NOT held hostage by the decisions of judges or sponsors as to whether or not they will have a chance to present, since those arrangements are made prior to the venue. As a result, our entrepreneurs will NEVER find themselves in a situation where they pay for one thing, such as to be in a “Demo Pit”, with the hope of getting a chance to present. In addition, we do not have any Best of Show awards, which can serve to de facto undermine the quality of those companies that do not win. We feel that the national audience we deliver of Angel investors and principals from top private equity and venture capital firms are more than well-qualified to decide which of our featured companies represent the right opportunities for them – and do not need anyone else to tell them which are the best deals. In our opinion, the ONLY thing that counts is the number of investors who ultimately vote with their checkbook.