Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Last week at the Arizona Enterpreneurship Conference (AZEC), a panel from AZ TiE titled “Who Got Funded and Why?” talked for nearly an hour about the dynamics of starting up.  Steve Swedler, Chief Product Guy at Gangplank asked finally stood up and asked,  “Who Got Funded and Why?”.  The moderator  turned the question over to a panelist who gave a jumbled answer that barely addressed why, but completely dodged the who?

Out of frustration I made a pretty knee jerk tweet and called this the same old bullshit investors in Phoenix hide behind.  As most of the groups haven’t funded anything in 12 months.  Later, Anil Jain one of the panelists let me know that they were not aware that was the topic and that was why they never covered it.  Fair enough.  It still would have been nice to hear which members of TiE had been funded or what the investors involved with TiE were funding.

At Gangplank in the last 18 months we invested in Authority Labs, Simple Seating and Date Designer. Additionally, many of us have put significant resources into 5th DimensionIntegrum has invested significantly for minor equity positions in various local start ups, trading equity for serivces. Additionally, we have launched two products that have been released to others in the community (Glen Garry and Back Tracker).

We currently have budgeted just over a $1 million to invest in the community over the next 5 years.  We have been working hard with others to make a home for Funding Universe and Sun Mountain Capital as well.  Between the two of them they could represent over $300 million in additional funding for the metro area. More information on this soon.

So you can see why it is frustrating to hear Angel “groups” time and time again ride their high horse about why we (the lowly entrepreneur) should respect them.  When in reality the community is finding ways to fund itself.  Which in many ways is how it should be.  We believe in the community and we are willing to put our money where our mouth is.  We hope that these other groups will as well.  We wish we could be doing more.  Providing capital to entrepreneurs is exactly what this economy needs to rebound.

Note:  The are companies receiving angel funding from individuals and there are some angel groups like ATIF that appear to be doing certain types of deals.

$50 Billion Available to Mobile Innovators (iPhone Bailout Plan?)

At our tech accelerator Gangplank we get pitched an idea at least once a week that attempts to solve one of two problems.

  1. Local businesses have few effective options to advertise because direct mail, radio and newspapers are losing traction.
  2. Existing marketers/advertisers are running out of viable mediums to use for their customers.

We have been tracking the space for the last 12 months with lots of interest, but have long struggled with what is the right strategy to “track” effectiveness. While newspapers, magazines and radio have no real way to track effectiveness, they tend to get away with it because they were “grand fathered” in as already being accepted. Counting the number of “eye balls” is sufficient for them to base pricing on.

Click-thru web advertising has ushered in a the age of “prove it” before I will pay you. Something similar needs to happen on the non “internet” side of things. A “brick-thru” so to speak. A way to track conversions and pay on a sliding scale.

The mobile company I’m involved with Held, LLC has put together a platform to address some of these concepts. We have working pilots and companies actively testing the platform. Initially we started the platform as a research project to test all functionality of the iPhone including geo spatial awareness and connecting back to the cloud. It wasn’t until we started sharing our research findings that we realized the true potential.

I opened the Wall Street Journal the other day and saw the following graph:

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These numbers are in BILLIONS!!! Everyone seems to indicate newspapers are failing. Radio and magazine’s are not growing. Think about that for a minute. That is $50 billion in advertising looking for a home. As you can see by LOCAL TV @ $28.8 billion that local is important. I think that mobile which is not on the chart is going to be competing for those dollars. Mobifestival this weekend will hopefully explore these opportunities more. If you are interested in this space or technology drop me a line. I’d love to meet and discuss.