To Boldly Venture Without Risk: A Startup Quest® Experience
I’m standing there in front of six venture capitalists and I need to convince them to invest $1,500,000 in our business. Cash for equity in a business that I created with a group of (at that time) complete strangers. Ten weeks ago we began creating the business plan for our company, BrainSense™.
I only have ten minutes to make the investor pitch.
Welcome to Startup Quest®! Before I tell you the ending to our story, let me briefly explain the concept of this program.
Basically, Startup Quest® was designed to be an entrepreneurship training program, connecting teams of qualified participants with successful CEOs and entrepreneurs to learn the steps needed to transform an invention from state universities and NASA into a product for the marketplace. We had the benefit of hearing from several guest speakers with success stories. Our region is CareerSource North Central Florida; there are eight regions across Florida.
The process of creating a business plan requires repeated dissection and reformulation, attempting to destroy what you make and then building back from the ashes, only to test it again to the very core of its existence. Weeks of painstaking research, study, and work fly by. You nurture it, carefully, patiently, creating something that survives and evolves. A final version of the business plan is submitted to judges, and then we get to present it to the judges. Now, it all comes down to this moment, and I need to convince them to give me $1,500,000.
The presentation went smoothly. Very different from, say, ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank”, which is great entertainment even if a bit unrealistic. Fortunately, I did not have to endure being grilled by a cadre of venture capitalists. The presentations are one-sided, and there is no Q&A round to ensure fairness to all groups.
We didn’t get $1,500,000 that day, and we didn’t win the competition. We didn’t even place in the top 3. Perhaps it is cliché, but as many things in life the journey outweighs the destination. The process was its own reward and I am much richer (in the non-monetary sense) for having gone down the path. I met a group of remarkable people, and my team has already planned a reunion a few months down the line.
For more information or to get involved in the Startup Quest® program, visit the website. Successful entrepreneurs looking to get involved should also check the program out; each team needs a mentor. I would recommend anyone in Florida who is remotely interested in entrepreneurship to join up.
Note: Startup Quest® is an entrepreneurship training program. It is an exercise to learn the ropes of what it takes to create a business. Although there have been participants that did actually fund their startup business, it is not designed as a funding competition.
BrainSense™ Management Team:
Gil Levy, Chairman of the Board
Julie Kahlfeldt, Chief Executive Officer
Adam Daube, Chief Financial Officer
Rick Beery, Chief Technical Officer
Michael Plager, Director of Marketing
Narciso Martinez, Director of Sales & Strategy
Startup Quest® participant;
PMP-certified Project Manager;