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Finding the Golden Needle
Netpreneurs Discuss Their First Funding Experiences
bob schmonsees, founder & ceo of wisdomware, inc.
matthew pittinsky, co-founder & ceo of blackboard, inc.
susan defife, founder and ceo of womens connection online
brandy thomas, founder, chairman & ceo of online monitoring services
bob nelson, founder & ceo of crossmedia networks
moderator: gene riechers, managing director of fbr technology venture partners, l.p.
emcee: fran witzel, director, investor services, netpreneur program

mr. witzel: good evening and welcome to coffee & doughnets goes late night. i'm fran witzel, the "funding guy" from the netpreneur program. we are delighted to host this panel discussion, which features five netpreneurs from our region who have received funding for their businesses within the past 12 months. they will share with you some of their experiences from that pursuit. introducing our panel members and moderating the discussion will be gene riechers, an important player in mindshare, which we'll hear about shortly. gene is also the managing director of fbr technology venture partners l.p. of friedman, billings, ramsey & co., inc. (fbr). fbr technology venture partners invests in infrastructure and enabling technologies in the telecommunications, e-commerce, internet and intranet areas. prior to joining fbr, gene spent 16 years at technology companies, including four early stage ventures, three of which ultimately went public. mr. riechers currently sits on the boards of several technology firms, including webmethods, wisdomware, mindersoft and intranetics. he is uniquely qualified by his experience to moderate tonight's discussion. please join me in welcoming gene riechers.

mr. riechers: thank you. before we start with tonight’s program, i want to recognize the mindshare group sitting at these front two tables, and tell you a little bit about it. we are pleased that much of the mindshare class of 1997 has joined us tonight for their first reunion. mindshare is a collaborative effort between the northern virginia technology council  and the potomac knowledgeway  to network a select group of ceos from top emerging technology firms in the region. mindshare facilitates solving real-life executive business problems. we hope that many more netpreneurs will join the mindshare ranks. on behalf of the netpreneur program and on behalf of the mindshare participants, i want to recognize three people—harry glazer, anne crossman and kathy penny—who put it all together. if you want to learn more about mindshare, contact harry glazer (hglazer@gfblaw) or sheila farthing (sfarthing@gfblaw.com).

let's move on to our topic, funding advice for netpreneurs. on the one hand we hear that investment money is plentiful. according to ventureone, the number of venture capital (vc) investments in internet companies at all stages more than doubled to 418 deals from 1996 to 1997, and the amount invested increased 144% to $2.6 billion. during the same period, 400 early-stage deals were made by vcs in all market segments, and the money invested also more than doubled to $1.6 billion.

a much larger source of funding for early-stage ventures comes from angel investors. dr. william wetzel of the university of new hampshire, known as "the father of angel investor research," estimates there were 60,000 early stage deals representing $15 billion.

on the other hand, even with a growing supply of investment capital in the hands of well over 100,000 angel investors, hundreds of venture capital firms and many other sources, they cannot and will not fund every deal. simple math tells you that most investors will not fund your venture.

so how do you find the golden needle in the haystack? to help answer that is our panel of warriors and winners who are willing to share their advice and experience, based on hard work and success with both angel and vc investors.

next: a wildebeest on the serengeti >

 


 

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