Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Angel Network Presentation Review

I attended a Keiretsu Forum investor presentation in Silicon Valley last Friday which I had wanted to do for quite awhile. I met Randy Williams the founder and CEO of Keiretsu during a Berkeley Executive Venture Capital Class ( VC Executive Program) run by Jerry Engle (Monitor Ventures) a few years ago. Jerry ran a great VC class digging into the meat of VC financing, valuation and perspectives of VC's you don't often see as the entrepreneur looking for investment. I have also hired Jerry to go over the VC landscape in Silicon Valley with some of my Australian clients and I highly recommend him, David Charron and their VC classes.

Keiretsu Forum is now the largest Angel investor network in the world with 750+ members on three continents and growing. They have invested over $200 million in 225 companies and their presentations are run like a well oiled machine! I have spoken to Randy a few times since our initial meeting about opening up a branch in Australia and think that might happen sometime in the not too distant future (hint, hint Randy!).

Five companies presented at the forum: Windpower, Anza International, iVoiceNetwork, Vesuvio Entertainment and Reality Gap. The members are provided with a presentation from each CEO followed by a Q&A session. Having run these investor forums for Australian companies entering the US I'm well aware of the amount of preparation required prior to the event and how challenging it can be for CEO's to step out of their "what they think is important world" to focus on what "investors think" is important.

As you can imagine the presentation quality varied wildly. Some of the chaps had fancy video's (which sometimes worked - note to presenters always test prior to delivery in front of an audience - don't leave it up to the in room "techies") and others were your standard vanilla PowerPoint you see in any investment pitch. The presenter from IVoiceNetworks (Guy Morris) was a bit of a showman and was able to create some real excitement which glossed over some of the issues they're facing. That being said I think it is an interesting play that will attract investors. Reality Gap seemed to focus on the games portion of their business when in reality the business was about Gamebux / monetizing virtual currency for social media networks and online gaming. WindPower reminded me a little bit of another company I saw at AlwaysOn awhile back Mariah Power - but, the difference was a focus on wind turbines for commercial vs. individual home owners. They have some issues but I think they might be the most investor ready of the group.

Vesuvio Entertainments play was all about making low budget ($100K), profitable movies from the get go with the CEO's (Greg Sims) claim to fame being the discovery of George Clooney. Hollywood is littered with the carcasses of startup movie studios but I think these guys may actually be able to make a go of it and I look forward to seeing if they can. Anza International seemed to be the least polished of the group and I heard someone say they had completely changed their presentation (likely from a prior Keiretsu presentation) and unfortunately it showed. Having worked in international business for the past two decades I can honestly say firsthand how much I abhor the ridiculous rates the big banks charge for international and domestic money transfers. Randy Gutierrez (CEO) talked about the margins they charge vs. what he is doing with Anza. His presentation wasn't "great" but this space looks like a good one and flashy presentations don't always translate to success. I'm hoping he succeeds if only to bring the big banks down to earth from their exorbitant fees as well as my vote for a clamp down on the excesses of Goldman Sachs and Wall Street.

Keiretsu events are invitation only. However, if you're an entrepreneur or someone who is interested in investing in startups I highly recommend you contact these guys and attend one of their presentations.

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