WCS Reverse Pitch Event Highlights
Back in March, WCS held its first ever “Reverse Pitch” event, where venture capital firms (VCs) pitch the unique value in working with them to the entrepreneurs in the WCS member community. The event was an instant hit with over 19 organizations participating and 125 potential entrepreneurs joined!
For WCS members, the Reverse Pitch event provided direct connections to the presenting VCs in a no pressure casual format encouraging people to share contacts live during the event and through a follow-up survey after the event. One hour of a high quality event like this can connect you directly with the decision makers of some very focused VC companies and put your dream on the track to reality.
What impressed me the most is how well the event was organized and the positive energy of all the companies present. First, Tricia Clemans, a WCS volunteer, set the ground rules and presented the framework for the VCs selection. Next, each VC had a couple of minutes to pitch, while the community of over 100+ reflected over chat. The event framework presented the funds available by type of capital and stage of the company they targeted. There was good coverage of non-dilutive, equity, and debt funds that can take a company from bootstrapping an idea to pre-IPO growth.
One company in particular, Ideaship Fund, that focuses on novel intellectual property and the strategy behind it, really caught my attention. Amanda Osborne, Managing Director of the fund, highlighted the goal of the fund – “Ideaship fund helps startups manage the business behind the business”. That was an “Aha!” moment for me since so much of the competitive advantage and innovation depend on the intellectual property (IP) and the patent strategy in order to protect that advantage. It can be overwhelming to understand the process and value of utility patents, and Ideaship Fund can definitely be an accelerator and a partner to get it right the first time.
The cohort of VCs was also curated to represent funds and programs that are majority women owned and/or targeting women and minority entrepreneurs in the cleantech and sustainability space. It was a special surprise to see both Royal Bank of Canada Women in Cleantech Accelerator and Amazon Climate Pledge Fund. While some funds were focused on US companies, there were also a few that had a more global approach. Powerhouse Ventures is one such globally focused fund that is interested in pre-seed and seed rounds.
Other programs presented covered how to unlock an idea’s potential without the risk of losing equity. The Biomimicry Institute “Ray of Hope” prize is one such opportunity. Another is Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, LACI, and their FBA cohort 9 applications are still open until June 23. Last but not least, government funds were offered by Nancy Kamei and Ellen Chant at the SBA.gov Seed Fund initiatives to support a feasibility study and provide up to $1.6 M in follow up grants.
If you missed it, stay tuned for round two, coming up this fall. On a related note, one of my favorite events from Women in Cleantech and Sustainability (WCS) for the past few years has been the Pitch Competition. It has been a quality event that puts the spotlight on women entrepreneurs and has already seen some notable exits.This year, the WCS Pitch Competition virtual event in June will feature startups from around the world and due to the volume of high-quality, competitive submission, we will hear from 11 startups instead of 10 as in previous years, there will be 11 instead of 10 companies competing. For any aspiring entrepreneur, pitch competitions are a fast track to getting visibility into your products, securing advice, and most importantly venture funding. Register today with the link below!