investment forum in Milwaukee.
If youíre an
aspiring entrepreneur seeking money from angel investors, youíd
better be prepared with a snappy pitch to get their attention. The
popularity of the television series "Shark Tank," a
reality-based show where entrepreneurs try to persuade wealthy people
to fund their business, has infiltrated local business communities
throughout the United States, and Milwaukee is no exception.
Milwaukeeís version of the "Shark Tank" pitch challenge,
doesnít involve TV cameras or offer huge exposure, but it does put
entrepreneurs in touch with local angel investors. And for start-ups
looking for growth capital, that connection is essential.
point of BizStarts is to help companies become investment-ready so
they can launch, grow and create jobs," says Dan Steininger, one
of BizStartsís founders.
organization, which launched in 2008, is committed to accelerating
early stage businesses in southeastern Wisconsin.
So how does
pitching a group of angel investors work off-screen?
not quite like Shark Tankís quick, cut-throat contest-style format,
BizStartís quarterly Investor Forum does have fledgling
entrepreneurs appearing before a panel of investors to pitch their
experience can be daunting," says Randy Spaulding, founder of
Spaulding Clinical, who participated in one of BizStartís first
angel investor programs in 2009.
launched its Investor Forum in December 2012. Offered on a quarterly
basis, the program puts investor-ready start-ups in front of a group
of potential investors. Each company gets 15 minutes to pitch its
business idea and then field questions. Following the program,
interested investors sign up to meet with the companies.
investors to explore playing a role with local start-ups that hold
huge potential," explains Steininger.
But not just
anyone can join the Investor Forumís panel of investors. Jon Ann
Willow, training and education coordinator for BizStarts, explains
that interested angel investors must meet certain criteria, including
proof of assets in excess of $1 million.
Last fall, three
start-ups fresh from BizStartís VentureTrack, a program that assists
entrepreneurs at different stages from pre-launch through early stages
of funding, attended the Investor Forum.
presenters was Jesse DePinto of VoxelMetric, a developer of 3-D
scanning hardware and software products that increase the speed and
accuracy in the measuring process for custom-fit medical equipment
like prosthetics and orthotics.
before the investor panel to secure equity financing to expand
VoxelMetricís capacity and production scale. "This is one of
those technologies that has the potential to revolutionize and change
the world," says DePinto.
attended the forum seeking financial assistance to continue moving his
EasyG monitor prototype through the Food and Drug Administration
approval process and eventually to market.
co-developed the pocket-size monitor to help emergency responders
instantly diagnose heart conditions using sensors that donít need to
come in direct contact with a patientís skin.
and Bob Boveja of ABL Technologies sought support from investors to
help them bring their disruptive mapping system to market pending Food
and Drug Administration clearance. With its unique patent protected
technology, the innovative mapping system drastically reduces
procedure times for radio frequency ablations used to treat heart
Other Side of
Clinical, a research firm, based in West Bend, works with
pharmaceutical companies to do first-in-human drug studies.
Clinical employees more than 200 people and has seen its sales grow
exponentially over the last three years. But in 2009, the company
needed an infusion of capital to get going. "I didnít have that
kind of money personally," Spaulding says.
Thatís when an
acquaintance introduced Spaulding to John Torinus, who co-founded
BizStarts with Steininger. Spaulding met regularly with BizStarts to
develop his business plan and eventually found himself in front of a
large group of angel investors seeking venture capital to grow his
As a result,
Spaulding Clinical raised $1.6 million and many of the companyís
initial investors remain involved today.
the experience was very rewarding," Spaulding says. "Never
give up on what you believe in," he says.