Acuity has led hundreds of companies through investor partnerships and round raises over the past 10 years and we will be the first to say – the game has significantly changed. With so many VCs looking to invest upstream, it’s easy for promising startups looking for funding in the $500,000 to $2 million range to get left behind. So when Baker Donelson called to partner with us on their 4th Annual Capital Connections event, we wanted to make sure to focus on this need. The event has come to be a “can’t miss” opportunity for investors and fresh startups to network and communicate in their own unique, Southeastern space. After the initial night of investor networking at Atlanta’s own Staple House, the companies joined the fray at the event, each with 5 minutes to pitch their business and wow investors. Here’s how it went down:
WHAT IS CAPITAL CONNECTIONS?: An annual event with the purpose of connecting quality companies looking for investment in the funding gap range with investors looking for unique startups in their sweet spot. The Southeast tends to be an underserved region for funding and so the SE Capital Connections was born.
WHO ATTENDED CAPITAL CONNECTIONS?: 9 startups from Georgia, 3 from Tennessee, and 1 from Florida and Alabama paired with 20 investors looking to provide funding in the ballpark of $500,000 to two million.
HOW DID ACUITY GET INVOLVED?: Looking forward to their 4th event, Capital Connections was looking for a fresh perspective and diverse network of fresh-faced startups. We knew there were tons of well-suited companies looking for funding under the traditional $3 to $5 million mark. We were excited to play matchmaker in this unique space.
WHERE DID CAPITAL CONNECTIONS TAKE PLACE?: Right here in Atlanta, GA.
HOW DID IT ALL GO DOWN?: It was a really inspiring time to see major support and interest in our SE startup community. The event was a game changer for bringing attention to some fresh startups who may have otherwise been overlooked as potential investment opportunities.
“If you have a great idea, there’s no guarantee you’ll get funded. If you have a great company, you’ll never have a lack of funding available to you.” – Matthew May
- FIX: Fitness Interactive eXperience – Making fitness fun, accessible and hyper-socially connected through an interactive social media platform centered around making the pursuit of fitness an enjoyable and engaging game.
- RaceIQ Engineering, Inc – Cybersecurity to protect cars from being hacked through bluetooth
- Text Request – Enable any phone number to receive texts – Also most likely for Acuity to become a customer
- Torch Router – Smart wifi router for families
- Bluechip Athletic Solutions, LLC – Recruiting technology for collegiate and pro sports industry
- Cogent Education (IS3D LLC) – Interactive case studies for biology
- Cognosos, Inc – Sensing as a service
- DecisionLink Corporation – Value selling automation
- Doc24Seven – Cloud based healthcare service for patients & doctors
- Faros Healthcare, LLC – Artificial intelligence for complex healthcare
- Quest Renewables – Solar racking solutions
- RecordGram – Lease your beats in the RecordGram App
- The Un-Brokerage, Inc. – Changing the game of buying corporate insurance
- Trustfuel – The system of record for customer success
- Sig Mosley – Atlanta – Mosley Ventures
- Clay Corman – Birmingham – AIM
- Eric Dobson – Nashville – Angel Capital Group
- Dick Reeves – Huntsville – Angel Syndicates Central
- Harold Brown – Atlanta – Atlanta Technology Angels
- Glenn Bachman – Atlanta – Bachman Ventures
- Ashish Mistry – Atlanta – BLH Venture Partners, LLC
- Ramsay Battin – Huntsville – Eastside Partners
- Philip Lewis – Atlanta – Fulcrum
- Frank Dalton – Atlanta – Fulcrum
- James (Jim) Douglass – Atlanta – Fulcrum
- Tom Wells – Atlanta – BIP Capital
- Steve Bachman – Atlanta – Hi Tech Partners
- Nelson Chu – Atlanta – Kinetic Ventures
- Diana LaTour – Orlando – LFE Capital
- Alan Urech – Atlanta – Stoney River Capital Partners LLC
- Blake Patton – Atlanta – Tech Square Ventures
- Martin Tilson – Atlanta – The Tilson Group, LLC
- Steve Walden – Atlanta – The Walden Associates
- Lisa Calhoun – Atlanta – Valor Ventures
- Emery Waddell – Atlanta – Vocap
- Eric Koester – Washington, DC – NextGen Venture Partners
- Rimas Kapeskas – Atlanta – UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund
- Andrew Dorman – Atlanta – Knoll Ventures
14 STARTUP PITCH TIPS WE LEARNED FROM CAPITAL CONNECTIONS:
- DO YOUR RESEARCH: Find out who received funding from the prior events, and ask them for pro tips. What worked? What didn’t work?
- GET A MENTOR: Utilize the “coaching” method by calling in mentors to preview your company snapshot and try your pitch before D-Day. This feedback could be invaluable.
- BE PREPARED: Ask for an attendees list and identify pivotal relationships prior to showing up at the event
- WATCH THE CLOCK: Be aware of time limits and don’t forget to account for Q&A.
- STACK THE DECK: Have an appropriate number of slides with one key takeaway per slide. Always be prepared with hard copies too – you won’t want to be the one who gets bitten by the “tech problems” bug.
- SHOW UP: Yes, we have to say it – dress for the event and be early. Your mom probably told you this too and we urge you to listen.
- MAKE NO ASSUMPTIONS: Start from the beginning and assume investors know nothing about your business or space. Give them the big picture and the full story – quickly.
- REMEMBER THE COMPETITION: Address the competitors and describe the marketplace.
- SHARE YOUR PLAN: We always hate to see a company leave out their strategy. Your pitch deck should include a quick and thorough explanation of your sales and marketing efforts.
- ANSWER THE BIG QUESTIONS: What problem does your product solve? Why are you in business? How will you grow and how fast will you be in the marketplace? How will you monetize?
- DON’T BE A POSER: You don’t have a stale personality and you’ve never purchased anything from an infomercial… Right? Well, your investors are like you. Be vibrant and take a page out of your elementary school teacher’s mantra – be yourself.
- SHOW YOUR GOODS: Bring your prototype, if you have one.
- PRACTICE. PRACTICE. DID WE SAY, PRACTICE?: Practicing your pitch until you have it memorized is only the first step. Go beyond memorization and recite your pitch to your dog, your neighbor, your boyfriend… until it is so internalized that you are speaking from your gut, not your memory.
- PIVOT IF NEEDED: Be succinct and prepared to wing it if necessary. If you know your business and your presentation by heart, you won’t blink twice at improvisation.