I’m at BNC Venture Capital. I came to see two exciting companies that have already crossed my radar screen. One easily won the recent FFF event and the other was in the top three.
I like Business Network Chicago events because they’re ALL BUSINESS. Most other events are all hype, but here, each company gets grilled with five standard questions:
1.) Exactly what is the product or service?
2.) Why should the customer buy it?
3.) Is the management team the best in the business?
4.) How does the company make money?
5.) How does the investor make money?
That’s tough and hard-nosed and that’s why I like it. Not every startup is ready to subject itself to this kind of rigor, but Len Bland manages to find three each month. The fact that he and Ray Markman are starting the Midwest Renaissance Fund probably creates a big draw to qualified companies.
After the presentation and grilling, the audience votes on a 1-10 scale. A score of “1” is considered “entre-manure” while a score of “10” means, “Where’s Grandma’s pension fund?” I’ll give you a quick peak into what two of these companies are doing:
Editor’s Note – YOUTOPIA picked up three angel investors at this meeting and achieved their stage-one funding goals.
The e-Harmony of Altruism
• Today, school districts across the nation require 40 hours of community service for graduation. Kids get stuck doing meaningless tasks that don’t match their interest. With Youtopia, the engagement starts with “What do you like?” The answer might be, “I like cats.” So maybe the system hooks-up the kid with an animal shelter.
• Under the present system, tracking is almost non-existent. With Youtopia, a web and mobile application enables schools to track and generate an organized social report card complete with recommendations for college admission offices.
• The business connection is huge as well. Corporations dearly want to advertise this kind of altruism.
Become a Youtopian
They already launched two weeks ago with three customers while they continue to develop their model. I like that aggressive approach.
This company was the subject of my previous article, DOT – A FILM.
Some Backstory – I was already familiar with Youtopia. I saw them present at the recent Funding Feeding Frenzy. It happened at the end of a long day—after the judges got plenty hot and cranky. One of them turned on the presenter. The others followed like lemmings. As far as I could see, they’d just blown their chance to invest in a really exceptional company.
Disgusted, I visited YouTopia at their downtown offices. These guys are highly creative and very coachable. I gave them a transcript of their FFF presentation, complete with Q&A. They took all my suggestions, even improved upon them. Then they accepted coaching from Len Bland and crew and delivered a sparkling performance at BNC. And they picked up three angel investors tonight. That completes their stage one round.
PaletteApp is a digital design tool that helps manufacturers, designers, architects, and contractors, accelerate the design and sample ordering process. With a vast library of products, designers can put together a package in mere minutes.
This company recently walked away with the Funding Feeding Frenzy grand prize—and well deserved. Tonight, at BNC, they make a big stir. PaletteApp proposes to change the 150-year-old way architectural design is done. In the process, they’ll transform a job that takes many man-hours into a joyful process that takes just a few minutes. What used to take 5 hours now can be done in 15 minutes.
These two tied for first place in the voting. At present time, PaletteApp is further along while Youtopia holds the promise of going viral and becoming over-the-top profitable.
Youtopia – Simeon Schnapper and Brett Singer – https://youtopia.com
PaletteApp –Jerry Freeman – www.paletteapp.com
BNC Venture Capital – Len Bland – http://bnchicago.org/Groups.php?group=8
Funding Feeding Frenzy – David Culver – www.fundingfeedingfrenzy.com
Find Chicago Venture Magazine at www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.
Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved