Entrepreneurs pitch to venture capitalists

March 26, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
In this down economy everyone is tightening their purse strings. Including the venture capitalists who keep Silicon Valley oiled with the cash it takes to run the innovation machine.

At this Menlo Park mixer, it's all about the pitch.

"We want to sell piece of mind to our customers," said Dan Lem, from A Lucky Dog.

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are pushing their products, ideas, and technologies to big name venture capitalists like DBI Investors, and Applied Ventures, with one goal, to get funding.

"What are you looking for in terms of financing?" asked a venture capitalist.

"We're looking for $3 million," said an entrepreneur.

But money is an object in this down economy. Unlike five years ago, when VC money flowed freely through the valley, the rules have changed. Venture capitalists want more assurances and fewer risks.

"The biggest thing the current economy puts in the investors mind is, 'this had better be a significant value added to a customer base or I'm not gonna be able to invest in it,'" said Curtis Feeny of Voyager Capital.

For every 100 pitches these VC's hear, they'll invest in just one company. But once they find that one great idea, they'll invest about $3-5 million dollars.

And so, in just five minutes, entrepreneurs like Zach Carson have to sell their ideas.

Carson arrived in this bio-fueled bus to pitch a travelling ecologically-friendly carnival to investor Mark Perutz.

"We create show cases of successful organizations, information, green products," said Zach Carson.

Carson needs $3 million dollars for his sustainable living road show. Money that may or may not come from DBI, considering competition for investor dollars is fierce.

That's why those at A Lucky Dog, which provides dog care services, actually changed their pitching strategy to reflect marketability and a viable customer base.

"We're changing it to the extent that we're not pitching as an internet based company that will grow on its own, we're pitching it as a real service for real people," said Dan Lem from A Lucky Dog.

Whether it was the change in strategy or simply timing, A Lucky Dog sparked interest with investors and a few have even asked for a second meeting.