Every month the Rockies Venture Club meets to learn about topics important to private equity investments and hear a few pitches. A few days after the pitch event, the RVC Investor Forums meet to syndicate on deals.

RVC Summer Pitchfest

We discussed the investor pitch from three perspectives: the investor, the entrepreneur, and the public speaking coach. Peter Adams (speaking left) reminded the room that investors are the horse, entrepreneurs are the wolves, and above all else, wolves, don’t spook your horse!

Vic Ahmed spoke about communicating to investors. Erin Lewis gave a heartfelt and powerful talk about seeking investment. Her point: the highs are as hard on you as the lows. Fundraising is hard work and often comes at a time when you need to budget your time as much as your capital. Eve Fisher prepped the room with a bravery-boosting pep-talk for the six entrepreneurs who pitched in the last hour of the meeting.

The pitching companies were Quantellia, Simplay Sports, Elbow Swing Golf, Rocky Mtn. Vacation Rentals, Kindara, and Rental Kharma. We expect great things from these companies and will update the community in time as they grow and develop.

Register for the next event – Incubators and Accelerators in the Rocky Mountain Region

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 5pm to 7:30pm
Wells Fargo Building, Hershner Room, 1st floor, 1700 Lincoln Street, Denver, CO

5:00-5:30 Networking Happy Hour
5:30-6:45 Roundtable discussion with local Accelerators and Incubators. Who will be there?
Confirmed list: CID4, CSTI, RMI2, Greenlight Labs, Montana Bioscience Alliance, Galvanize, HUB Boulder, Vail Leadership Institute, Clean Launch, Innovation Center of the Rockies, Innovation Pavillion, Fitzsimons Biobusiness Incubator, Cleantech Fellows Institute, Unreasonable Institute, and more to come…
6:45-7:30 Four great pitches: choozle, PrevoTV, Recruiting Sports Network, and Crystal Clear Rx.

Rockies Venture Club may be enjoying it’s 26th year of existence, but when you get down to it, we are a startup just like the companies we serve. We have a lot of the same limitations as a startup – too much work, not enough staff, so much to do, so little time and resources. The answer to all those trouble is to join forces with other folks. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! To that end, we have been partnering with lots of groups in the Front Range. Here are the highlights.

Until mid August, we were virtual, popping in and out of coffee shops between the DTC and Boulder with such frequency that I personally feared caffeine overdose on a few occasions. That has all changed with our new relationship with Thrive Lodo. This place has all the comfort of a home office without that nagging feeling that you should go do some laundry or wash the dishes. Seriously though, what I find amazing about this place is that they have created sound walls. Co-working spaces often conjure up the images of echo-y warehouse spaces where you overhear everyone else’s business while attempting to get on with your own. Not this place.

Charlie and Chad Johnson, brothers and the owners here, have used their vast knowledge of architectural design to create invisible and effective ways of preventing conversations from traveling very far. Other bonuses? We can take more meetings with entrepreneurs since we aren’t running all over town anymore. We are considering the idea of open office hours, but the best way to get free consulting out of RVC is still our Entrepreneur Mastermind meeting at RAFT every month.

We’ve been pretty busy plugging into the entrepreneur-focused groups in Colorado. Who else did we talk to recently? Innovation Pavillion, Rocky Mountain Innosphere, Vail Leadership institute. But you are going to have to wait and see what comes of those relationships. We’re still working out the details!

We can share our partnership with Colorado Bioscience Association. In November we will be focusing our Nov 13th event on lifescience companies in Colorado. This is an event collaboration between the CBSA and the RVC. There are some great life-science companies out there and it’s going to be hard to choose between them. If you know a lifescience company that is raising money, please encourage them to apply to pitch.

We are creating collaborations every week and we will outline them for you under the tag “partnerships” as they develop. I hope that all companies consider partnerships. These are relationships that are often non-monetary, but are hugely valuable for both parties. Gather partners for market research, testing your product, or distributing your product. The trick is to be upfront about the expectations for both groups and to create MOUs (memorandums of understanding) free of legal jargon. Just spell it out and then be a good partner. Give, give, give!

What do crowd-funding factoring, carbon fiber guitars, and designer seeds all have in common? No, this is not the start of a goofy joke – they are all companies who closed funding rounds this summer: P2Bi, Viktorian Guitars, and Evolutionary Genomics.

We’ve seen 12 companies secure angel funding so far this year and we’ve started to notice a pattern. Companies who are able to seal the deal with investors are generally more sophisticated than those who are still waiting. Is that a big shocker? Probably not, but how can your start-up get on the path to financial sophistication quickly? Here’s three points to consider:


  1. Plan a financial structure that is friendly to early investors – If you are raising a seed round of $500k now, and will still need to seek significant follow-on funding, your initial investors run the risk of getting diluted. Dilution renders their investment much less valuable than it was initially. Many RVC Investor Forum Angels have had this experience; it’s unpleasant and off-putting. Sometimes it’s enough to cause an Angel to hang up their investor shoes for a while. Do your best to keep your initial backers’ investments strong and let them know that dilution is just as much your concern as theirs.
  2. Term sheet – Have the term sheet structured ahead of time. Many investors might be interested enough to participate in your deal, but few are willing to put in the time to help you structure your deal. Make the job of your lead investor easy by having all of your legwork done ahead of time. What if you don’t have the first clue about a term sheet? Start with a tool like the WSGR Term Sheet Generator. Really do your homework and aim to understand the term sheet that pops out of the generator. Next steps, tweek, change, modify, and improve it!
  3. Valuation – Really think hard about this. There are many schools of thought about what gets factored into a valuation. David Fein from ValuSource will be discussing this topic at the Colorado Capital Conference. Do you have a product on the market? Revenues? A Patent? Or is your valuation based solely on the three years of backbreaking 90hr weeks you’ve put into the business. Here’s a good rule of thumb. If you can grow organically and will be able to continue momentum without outside investment, then go ahead and keep that valuation high. But if your venture requires outside investment to survive and grow, then lower that valuation and sweeten the deal. We’ve seen a few valuations drop from $4M+ to little over $1M. Sometimes, that’s what it takes to get the job done!

The 24th Annual Colorado Capital Conference. 24th Annual. That’s a lot of years holding the same conference in the same town for basically the same purpose. Rockies Venture Club has been supporting entrepreneurship in Colorado for a really long long time.

I’m 35. When the first annual Colorado Capital Conference was launched, I was 11. I was living in Maryland with my parents and all I knew about Denver was that it was where my dad went on a business trip once and brought me back a clear plastic box filled with polished stones. He also told me as he tucked me in under my frilly pink bed spread how I’d like to live in Denver someday. He was right. Anyway, the point is, it was a long time ago.

How many companies have been funded after pitching at a Colorado Capital Conference? One? Ten? Fifty? Frankly, I don’t know. I haven’t found any metrics about this conference in any of the dusty boxes in the storage unit that houses two decades of Rockies Venture Club history. To be honest, I haven’t looked very hard. I’m just trying to make the 24th Annual the best year for this conference.

This year we are doing things a little differently. We will choose great companies to pitch and we will coach them so that they are sure to put their best foot forward – all that is the same. We can promise two big changes that will hopefully get solid relationships forming between investors and entrepreneurs.


  1. Our Preview Gala on Monday Oct 8th. Companies will each occupy a cabaret table and investors will be able to mingle between them, match names to faces, and talk with founders over drinks and appetizers. Good for entrepreneurs- investors who are interested will pack into your pitches on Tuesday. Good for investors- no need to use the coin toss method of deciding whose pitch you will watch.
  2. Investor Forums on both Thursday 11th and Friday 12th. Investors only please! This is the meeting where investors discuss deals, create alliances, and syndicate on deals to cover rounds. Without the Investor Forum, nothing gets accomplished. We currently have 50 Angels in the RVC Investor Forum and have partnered with both High Altitude Investors in Colorado Springs and NoCo Angels group from the north end of the state. There’s even some talk about a new Women’s Investor Group and Vail Investor Group.

We hope you can join us for both the Gala and the Tuesday Conference!

Angel investing is a lot like dating. Everyone is different and, in theory, there is someone for everyone. Both romantic and investment relationships are complicated and deeply personal affairs that are dependent on values, personality, and chance. Read more

The Unreasonable Investor Day 1, July 19, brought together people from all over the world to advance companies with socially conscious projects. The Unreasonable Staff was so unreasonable that they changed the rules on us in the middle of the event. Read more