Entrepreneurs

By: Elizabeth Usovicz, General Manager of Transaction Commons, as part of a series she writes for ACA aimed at entrepreneurs, "Your Pitch is Just the Beginning."

In films and on television, characters routinely breeze through sophisticated software, easily cracking codes and accessing just-in-time information. In Jurassic Park, for example, thirteen year-old Lex Murphy reboots the park’s sophisticated computer systems - just after surviving a velociraptor attack in the kitchen. 

In the real world, software applications are not as user-accepted and intuitive. As reported in Fortune, a 2014 a survey of failed startups found that that 42% self-identified the reason for failure as lack of market need for their product.

By: Joseph W. Bartlett, Special Counsel, McCarter & English LLP; Chair Emeritus, ACA Public Policy Advisory Council

The appropriate legal domicile for the company’s organization and filings. In almost every case, Delaware is the appropriate choice. Despite media insinuations, Delaware is not a tax haven. State income taxes are levied on the basis of factors which are not influenced by a Delaware domicile. The reasons for Delaware are practical: The Delaware Secretary of State’s office is better organized and staffed so that the initial organization of a corporation or limited liability company is a matter of a few minutes.

By: Ed Cox, CEO of everyStory

The stages of funding, it is said over and over, go as follows: friends and family, then angels, then venture capitalists. It’s a familiar framework to any entrepreneur trying to launch a startup.

However, should every entrepreneur trying to raise money assume that oft-repeated path is actually the best path? Absolutely not. Entrepreneurs should not determine their companies’ sources of funding based on tradition or assumptions. Rather they should base them on the intention and goals of those companies.

In fact, entrepreneurs should stop thinking of funding in “stages” altogether. What’s listed above are funding “avenues” that should be considered simultaneously – and could also be pursued simultaneously. In a world of rapidly developing crowdfunding sources, the way to raise money has expanded well beyond those customary staples.

By Krista Tuomi, Associate Professor, American University

Editor’s Note:  As businesses start and grow it is important to think through the best kind of financing for the business.  Entrepreneurs can talk with a variety of business coaches and counselors for advice and information, and may also approach angel investors as they mentor startups in their communities.  Angels need to stay on top of the news about commercial loans and other kinds of financing to help build the success of the startups they support. Some experts say that bank loans are the dominant source of finance for young firms, with as much as 40% of all initial startup capital, although this information may be dated.  Dr. Tuomi takes a look at the current state of bank loans for startups and questions whether this is still the case.

Bank loans are appealing to startups who fear loss of control/equity in their venture. 

By: Elizabeth Usovicz, General Manager of Transaction Commons, as part of a series she writes for ACA aimed at entrepreneurs, "Your Pitch is Just the Beginning."

As an entrepreneur, your pitch is arguably the most important message about your company’s investment-readiness that you will ever deliver. Most entrepreneurs develop two versions of a pitch: a short, elevator version, and a longer, investor presentation with a slide deck. Your elevator pitch is much more than a compressed investor presentation without the slide deck. It’s a precious few seconds of your listener’s attention in which to communicate your passion, describe your innovative product or service and clarify its value from an investor’s point of view.  

By: Elizabeth Usovicz, General Manager of Transaction Commons, as part of a series she writes for ACA aimed at entrepreneurs, "Your Pitch is Just the Beginning."

A few weeks ago, I spoke to MBA candidates at a business school conference. They were passionate about becoming entrepreneurs and were in the process of refining prototype products. Yesterday, I met with another aspiring entrepreneur – a corporate veteran with a product, a patent and a launch plan. Despite the obvious differences in career and product development timing, the students and the corporate veteran shared common traits: they were passionate about their ideas, dreaming big and determined to perfect their investor pitches.

What does it take to be named the most innovative ACA angel invested company for 2015? Well, Ann Arbor, Mich.-based RetroSense Therapeutics, has just raised the bar. The high-flying biotech is developing life-enhancing gene therapies designed to restore vision in patients suffering from blindness due to specific ailments.

RetroSense Therapeutics CEO Sean Ainsworth stated, "It's really exciting and an honor to win the Luis Villalobos Award, which highlights some of the amazing innovations that can come to life through the power of angel investing. Our angel-backed series A, of $7 million, has enabled us to complete studies needed to enter clinical trials and will fund early clinical development.  It's great to have the recognition from ACA for the progress we're making toward restoring vision.

Which of the thousands of startups funded by the 12,000+ members of the Angel Capital Association (ACA), the world's leading professional association for angel investors, will win the coveted Luis Villalobos Award?  It will be one of these three just announced finalists: ActX (Seattle), GroundMetrics (San Diego), and RetroSense Therapeutics (Ann Arbor, MI).  These companies will be honored and the winner will be announced in a special awards ceremony on April 15th at the world’s largest gathering of angel investors, the 2015 ACA Summit taking place in San Diego. The award is named in memory of Luis Villalobos, who angel investors nationwide admired for actively investing in and mentoring ingenious, creative and innovative startups.

“These finalists are at the top of their game and represent the pinnacle of startup innovation and ingenuity,” said ACA Executive Director Marianne Hudson. “Each company is representative of the strong leadership driving the type of innovation that ACA’s 12,000+ angel investor members look for when selecting companies to financially support and mentor.”

By: Elizabeth Usovicz, General Manager of Transaction Commons, as part of a series she writes for ACA aimed at entrepreneurs, "Your Pitch is Just the Beginning."

As an entrepreneur, you live for that big idea that blends innovation, an untapped market and high growth potential.

It’s been said that ideas are the currency of the 21st century, and like all currencies, the value of a big idea can fluctuate. Some days, you can’t seem to find the discipline to execute. Other days, you’re distracted – a competitor surfaces, a strategic relationship falters or a regulatory issue becomes a setback. Your business focus vanishes and distraction takes over, keeping you up at night and making you miserable by day.

By: Elizabeth Usovicz, General Manager of Transaction Commons, as part of a series she writes for ACA aimed at entrepreneurs, "Your Pitch is Just the Beginning."

Carmine Gallo, author of “Talk Like TED”, calls ideas “the currency of the 21st century.” It’s true that consistently refining and taking action on relevant ideas leads to business innovations and scientific breakthroughs.

For entrepreneurs with an innovative business concept, the process of refining a big idea and taking relevant action includes the ability to synthesize input from a wide range of sources. Input from too many sources can leave you feeling as though there are a hundred voices whispering in your head, muddying your refinement process and making it harder, not easier, to make decisions and take action. Making sense of this varied input requires having a framework for filtering and evaluating those voices.  Here are three framework components to consider.

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