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Scoring financing is one of the hottest topics in entrepreneurship and my new friends @lendio are doing their part to help entrepreneurs find the right funding sources. In addition to their subscription service that boasts 70+% funding rates, they sponsor cool events like this one.

They invited me be on a panel for an innovative event called CrowdPitch. The Chicago version of the event was hosted in partnership with the Northwestern/Kellogg Entrepreneurship Week festivities.

CrowdPitch is a 90 min. event where 5-6 companies are selected to present their ideas to an audience of their peers and a panel of experts. Presenters have just 4 minutes to wow the audience before a brief Q&A from the crowd. Panel feedback follows.

At the conclusion of the pitches, the audience and panel “invest” FUN money with the company that impressed them most. The winner receives a small prize, but more importantly validation, expert feedback, and exposure for their business.

Bill Pescatello and Brian Axelrad were on the panel with me and needless to say, it was a blast.

The five companies that pitched at the event were:

AlumSocial: Cool concept, but their live demo crashed, so they didn’t really get to do their thing :-( . The lesson for all of us – use screen shots rather than a live demo (unless the investor specifically asks for a live demo).

Energy Recovery Technologies: Another fantastic energy/green technology. Super competitive marketplace. I told them they needed a rockstar business development team to match the expertise of their R&D team to have a shot at being a market leader.

Socioclean: I was super-impressed with this venture. Sharp CEO, great technology and decent traction already. If you’ve ever worried about an employer (or future employer) finding your not-so-flattering party pictures and obnoxious Facebook posts when they do some checking on you, sign up for Socioclean and they’ll help you fix that pronto! I’m confident they’ll get venture funding soon.

SpotHero: Wouldn’t it be cool to show up to a crowded concert or sporting event to have a reserved parking spot waiting for you? SpotHero is designed to connect parking spot owners (including people who want to rent out their driveway) with spot buyers (people like you and me who don’t want to walk 5 miles from a remote parking lot). They have a stiff uphill climb ahead of them unless they can land a million bucks to leapfrog the competition. It is another crowded marketplace. However, the two founders are sharp, driven, go-getters so I’ve got my fingers crossed that they’ll stay committed to the project no matter what.

Tix4Cause: Kevin Nemetz at Tix4Cause was super nervous making his pitch, but they have built a very cool company that is really adding tremendous value to both buyer and seller of event tickets. The next time you have some tickets to offload (or if you’re looking for great tickets to an event), check Tix4Cause first. You’ll get great seats and help a great charity in the process. A very fundable business if they can solve a couple of adoption issues on the non-profit company side (they’re working on it as we speak).

Got a great business idea you’re working on? Find a crowdpitch event near you and get on the roster. The insight, candid feedback and “free consulting” is invaluable!

Can’t wait to do it again :-)
(And yes, I am a sucker for an entrepreneur with an idea, so find me in the BOSI Network and I’ll be glad to give you my two cents of input if applicable).

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3 Responses to “CrowdPitch Chicago sponsored by Lendio”

  1. avatar

    Priyanshu Harshavat

    03. Jun, 2011

    Thanks Joe for giving our company the confidence vote and a great synopsis of the event.

  2. avatar

    Barry Tarter

    05. Jun, 2011

    Joe,

    Good feedback. It is interesting to think about SpotHero and all the other personal-asset-for-rent business models (eg airbnb). What other assets do you think this could expand in to?

    Barry

  3. avatar

    Joe

    21. Jun, 2011

    Barry

    Great question. I’ll have to really think about that a bit, but the one area where I see a huge opportunity is in the business-asset-for-rent space. Right now, the market is crowded full of landlords who are offering “shared office space” and shared resources for over-inflated prices and with toxic contractual requirements (aka Regus). A savvy entrepreneur could build a simple interface that allowed underutilized office space in companies like yours and mine to be matched with local (or visiting) entrepreneurs who need a place to plug in and do some business. Starbucks is ok, but sometimes I need a conference room or access to a printer. Most of us have those assets sitting around not being used in our companies for 80% of the day.

    I guess the point is that wherever “big business” has made its mark and made things costly and cumbersome for the buyer, there is the opportunity for a “little guy” to be very disruptive (while also adding tremendous value to buyers and sellers in that space).

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