Women's Capital Connection and Mid-America Angels Celebrate Exit of Portfolio Company EyeVerify
September 14, 2016- Women's Capital Connection (WCC) investment network company EyeVerify closed a nine-figure deal with Ant Financial, the payments affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding, Ltd. on Monday. This is Ant Financial's first U.S. acquisition.
WCC members, along with partners at Mid-America Angels (MAA), first invested in EyeVerify’s 2012, $1.5 million seed round. The group also participated in subsequent Seed, Series A and bridge loan rounds, totaling $2.5 million, $6 million and $3.5 million, respectively. In total, 46 MAA and WCC members injected over $2 million of private capital to help the company refine its prototype, achieve traction and scale business operations over the years.
MAA’s history with key EyeVerify staff extends even further back than the company’s 2012 seed round. MAA made an investment in EyeVerify CEO Toby Rush’s previous venture, Rush Tracking Systems in 2007. Founded in 2003, Rush Tracking Systems opened an early office in the Enterprise Center of Johnson County (a local non-profit organization which operates MAA) nearly fifteen years ago. The RFID tracking technology company was acquired by Pharos Capital in 2009 for an undisclosed sum. That exit was the first liquidity event for the MAA portfolio.
In 2014, EyeVerify was nominated by MAA for the Angel Capital Association’s (ACA) Luis Villalobos Award, which honors the most innovative company recently financed by ACA member angel groups each year. EyeVerify won and Rush accepted that award along with MAA’s Managing Director, Rick Vaughn.
Where To Get Funded In 2016 That Isn’t Silicon Valley
Entrepreneurs and investors both know that, for better and worse, the San Francisco Bay Area is the top dog in basically everyone’s rankings of startup hubs. Its history as the cradle of the consumer computer age, present as the home of lots and lots of “unicorns” and penchant for wearing startup-branded hoodies and bringing dogs to the office all make it a lovely and dynamic place to start a company.
But, it’s also foggy and heinously expensive.
For those entrepreneurs and investors who either can’t, or do not want to be based in the Bay Area, the question begs to be asked: Which other hubs of investment activity stand out from the crowd? Which startup hubs performed the best in 2015 relative to the previous few years? In order to answer these questions, we pulled Mattermark’s deal information from over 6,700 Angel, Seed, Series A and Series B investments made in over 4,900 companies based in sixteen different US cities between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2015.
Our main interest is upward momentum in investing activity over the past two years. But, again, to suss out some useful information from the data, the playing field needs to be leveled.
To do this, we normalized all of the cities deal information for each year to the total dealmaking activity in that city over the course of four years. In plain English, if a city experienced no change in investment activity, its adjusted activity score would be 25 in 2012, ‘13, ‘14, and ‘15. Here is a (somewhat busy) chart identifying the top startup cities that gained the most steam in recent years.
Below, we ranked the cities to identify which cities had the most investment activity in 2015 relative to the previous year. Instead of showing all 17 cities, we show the top 10, plus the Bay Area and the average of all cities we analyzed.
Read the rest of the article and get more info here.
How Do I Wow Investors?
Show them why your company is a compelling bet.
If you’re the head of a small but growing company, your to-do list is probably crammed with tasks: hiring employees, developing your product, winning over customers and on and on.
Securing investment dollars might seem like one more thing to do. But it’s not. Arguably, it’s the most important assignment you have. You can’t build your business if you don’t have the money to do so.
Approaching investors can be an intimidating step for some entrepreneurs, especially if they’ve never had to pitch to anyone outside their family or circle of friends.
The good news is that startup investors know that every investment is a bet, and against pretty long odds. To prove you’re worth investing in, you don’t have to prove you’re going to succeed, just that you’re a sufficiently good bet.
What makes a startup a good bet? You can answer that question by putting yourself in the investors’ shoes and answering the questions they have.
What Investors Want to See
» Have you put your own money into your venture? What about friends, family or professional contacts? If the people who know you best haven’t invested, why would a random group of strangers?
» Does your business have the potential for rapid, scalable growth within a reasonable time frame—something along the lines of $10 million to $20 million in revenue within five years?
» Do you have a realistic path to owning a good chunk of your market? The market doesn’t necessarily have to be big now. A small market that’s destined to become larger is actually a better play.
» How will their money be used? (Hint: Anything that helps you hit $10 million to $20 million in revenue—beefed-up sales and marketing are a good start.)
» Do you have an edge—a proprietary technology, an early market lead or strong barriers to entry that will keep out competitors?
» Are you open to mentoring and coaching? Most investors will want to offer more than money.
» Can you present a credible exit strategy for investors? Your investors want to maximize their profits. This is their main expectation and primary interest.
Tips for an Excellent Pitch
» When you start, tell your story as simply as possible. (“We make a widget that costs 50 percent less than the current market leader.”) Then build on that foundation, gradually adding more detail. This lets your audience become acclimated to your ideas.
» Your pitch should focus on what you intend to do, how you plan to implement your idea, how you will make money from it, what your scale of aspiration is and why investors should bet on you and your team.
» But don’t get too deep into operational details. If investors are interested, there will be time for that later.
» Make sure your pitch is a good fit for the preferences and portfolios of the investors you’re addressing. Adjust accordingly.
» A lean, clean pitch works best. Don’t put a lot of words on any one slide. Avoid teeny tiny text or giant tables of numbers.
» Don’t present numbers unless you can explain how you arrived at them. Even if you aren’t the numbers person on your team, you need to understand them all if you’re delivering the pitch.
» Practice, practice, practice. A lack of practice is the most common, most preventable cause of terrible pitches.
What Comes Next
You need to be prepared for due diligence. Investors will want to know much more about your company before giving you money. (That giant chart you left out of your slideshow? Finally, this is its chance to shine!) Being organized will make the due diligence process go much more smoothly.
You should also be ready for the alternative—the investors decide to pass.
Just remember that building a new business is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. You will need to present your proposal many times before you can obtain support.
In this long process, the best sources of feedback are members of your audience—you know, the folks who just turned you down. In most cases, though, you’ll find them open to sharing useful advice for future presentations. Approach them with a positive attitude that shows your willingness to accept criticism and take some of their suggestions on board.
Who knows? The people saying “no” today might say “yes” at some point in the future.
See the full article here.
By: Kelly Sievers Pruneau, Network Manager of Women's Capital Connection
Advisors, Role Models, and the Importance of "Champions"
“What types of support relationships do you find beneficial as a startup founder?”
I asked a group of six women founders this question as part of a whiteboard conversation conducted last year by WhiteSpace Consulting and Startland News. Their answers reveal a broad range of support relationships, including one that is a must-have for every entrepreneur. Here are three perceptions that surfaced during our conversation.
Women advisors are confidence builders
Based on the whiteboard session, women in Kansas City’s entrepreneurial support organizations are significant advisors to women founders in the early stages of forming a company concept. The six founders I spoke with saw the women in support organizations as confidence-builders in the formation and pre-money stages of their companies. They especially looked to women in organizations such as the Women’s Capital Connection and Small Business Development Centers for confidence-building and encouragement. Women founders also rely upon each other for advice and support.
Male founders are role models
What happens when a founder’s company is gaining traction? Who are their role models?
“Men who have companies a few steps ahead of mine,” one founder said of her role models. The women agreed that they look for male role models when revenue generation and fundraising become priorities. Why? Fundraising and growth require tough decisions and perseverance. “It’s related to respect,” one founder said. “I’m less nice when dealing with men.”
Men and women work “the network” differently
The women founders recognize the value of their networks in growing their companies. They also sense that male founders may use their networks differently than women founders. Some of the women perceived that men have fewer advisors and have an easier time connecting to and working “the network” than women.
The Key Relationship: A Champion
During this conversation about support relationships, two words never came up: “sponsor” and “champion.”
A sponsor or champion can endorse a company’s performance, connect the founder to influential people and be an advocate in critical situations.
A relationship with a sponsor or champion has to be earned. Here are three essentials for making 2016 the year of the champion:
What advice would you share with founders on building a relationship with a sponsor or champion? I’ll be exploring this topic in future posts. Stay tuned here.
By: Elizabeth Usovicz, principal of WhiteSpace Consulting- January 08, 2016
New Group Seeks Iowa Women Angel Investors
A new angel investor group slated for Iowa will focus on women investors and entrepreneurs.
Read the full article here.
Kelly Pruneau Makes Techweek 100 in Kansas City
Congrats to Kelly Sievers Pruneau, Women's Capital Connection, for making the Techweek 100 in Kansas City. Read the full press release below for more information.
WCC Network Manager, Kelly Sievers Pruneau Makes Techweek 100 Cut
KANSAS CITY, MO (Sept. 8, 2015) — Techweek recently announced the 2015 Kansas City Techweek 100 and Women’s Capital Connection (WCC) Network Manager, Kelly Sievers Pruneau, makes the list.
The Techweek100 identifies leaders who have made a significant impact on the technology and innovation ecosystem in which they operate. The Techweek100 includes leaders of fast-growing tech companies, prominent investors, key enablers of the digital ecosystem, creators of new technologies, and other innovators that make important contributions to their field.
As part of OneKC for Women, the WCC plays an important role in the financial success of women. WCC is the angel investor group that invests in women-led companies in primarily the KC region.
“Our job is simplified due to the hard work of Network Manager, Kelly Pruneau,” said Sherry Turner, founder of OneKC for Women and the Women’s Capital Connection. “Kelly helps women entrepreneurs prepare for their investment pitch and makes sure the deal is truly fundable for the investor review. On behalf of every investor in WCC and all of us here at OneKC for Women, we are so proud of Kelly for making the Techweek 100."
The Techweek100 is not a ranking, but rather an annual list of 100 most distinguished technology organizations and their leaders selected by the Techweek community, Techweek Advisory Boards, and the Techweek team.
This year, the WCC will surpass all previous year’s backings, having already invested over $700,000 in area startup and early stage businesses — both women-led and non-women-led— through July. The bulk of the investments, nearly 70%, are women funding women-led businesses.
Sherry Turner featured in Startland News
Sherry Turner talks diversity, funding landscape
There are few people in Kansas City that have worked harder than Sherry Turner to increase women’s engagement in entrepreneurship.
Founder of OneKC for Women, Turner works to help women in the area find jobs, start businesses, get financing or invest in other businesses through a variety of organizations. After years leading large corporate teams, she now helps guide the Women’s Capital Connection, Women’s Business Center and Women’s Employment Network.
Turner recently participated in Startup Grind Kansas City, discussing her work, Kansas City diversity and the area funding landscape. To learn more about Startup Grind and its upcoming speakers like Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, click here.
Here are a few snippets from Turner’s conversation with area businesspeople.
On engaging more women in entrepreneurship …
On her work to create a micro-lending platform in KC …
On advice for attaining capital …
On her managerial skills …
Read the full article here.
KC Entrepreneurs Talk Funding, Business Advice at BIG Breakfast - TBB
It can be tough for young, growing companies to find funding in Kansas City, but it’s not impossible.
That was one of the takeaways from Thinking Bigger Business’ BIG Breakfast on June 11 at the Kauffman Foundation. The quarterly breakfast features stories and insights from four local entrepreneurs, many of whom have appeared in recent issues of Thinking Bigger Business.
England’s company relocated to the West Coast for a time, but eventually moved back to Kansas City, where she’s benefited from working with programs like the Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship and plugging into the business community.
She said that it can be more challenging to locate funding here, but pointed to two local groups—the Women’s Capital Connection and the Mid-America Angels—that have helped Rawxies grow.
Blackwood echoed England’s comments. He said that ABPathfinder was fortunate to find a great angel investor in the form of Matt Watson of Stackify. Networking has helped the company secure further VC investments from FCA Venture Partners of Nashville and Dundee Venture Capital in Omaha.
More out-of-town investors are starting to pay attention to Kansas City companies as they see other investors successfully exit from positions they’ve held in KC startups. It doesn’t hurt that Kansas City has a reputation for a powerful work ethic.
Each panelist’s company offers a product or service that helps with customers’ well-being.
Rawxies, for example, makes a line of vegan, gluten-free snacks, and Your Wellness Connection provides a range of wellness services. Dr. Robin also hosts a radio show, delivers talks on better health and writes books—in fact, she has a new book coming out next month. She’s set a goal of influencing 1 billion people to achieve big shifts in their health by making a few small changes in their behavior.
ABPathfinder has developed a software solution that makes autism therapists more efficient when assisting clients.
ARJ Infusion Services provides home-based infusion therapies that allow patients to continue living life on their terms. The company is on pace to hit a 20 percent increase in revenue this year.
“Our mission is making the patient experience excellent,” Sackuvich said.
Read additional articles on Thinking Bigger Business Media website here.
Kansas City area aims to fix weak link between investors and entrepreneurs - Kansas City Star
Four years ago, an ambitious program for the Kansas City area set “becoming America’s most entrepreneurial city” as one of its five top goals. But a big barrier has stood in the way: Not enough investment money has been getting to enough startup businesses.
Leaders of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the entrepreneurial community today will introduce a plan to leap that hurdle by building up local investment funds to help grow and keep business startups in the area. It’s either that or continuing to lose them to cities where investors are more likely to take interest.
Why should this matter to non-entrepreneurs? Data show that businesses less than five years old have been adding two-thirds of all new jobs, and job growth is essential for any region to prosper.
Financing experts say people trying to start businesses in the Kansas City aren’t aware of all the resources and funding sources available. They say there’s a relative shortage of venture capital funds for a metro area of this size. And they say the area needs more skilled venture fund managers to help bring promising entrepreneurs and financiers together.
The new “We Create Capital” strategy to be announced today at Kauffman Foundation Conference Center includes three key aims:
Read more on the Kansas City Star's website here.
Sherry Turner, Founder of OneKC for Women Alliance, to Receive Legacy Award
Sherry Turner, founder of OneKC for Women, has been selected as the 2015 Legacy Award recipient by Thinking Bigger Business Media. Each year, Thinking Bigger Business Media presents the Entrepreneurial Legacy Award to a leader in Kansas City's small business sector. The recipient is a leader who has made outstanding contributions to impact the entrepreneurial community.
This year, Sherry Turner, founder of OneKC for Women is deserving of this prestigious recognition for her dedication to helping women achieve their career goals. She is known for providing a voice for women seeking to reach their full personal and professional potential.
OneKC for Women is an alliance of organizations-the Women's Employment Network, the Women's Business Center and the Women's Capital Connection-that help women pursue their professional and financial goals. By working together as OneKC for Women, these partner organizations are able to better accomplish a common goal: empowering women to achieve financial independence.
As founder, Sherry’s vision was to establish OneKC for Women with the resources, opportunities and connections needed to advance employment opportunities, start a business, grow a business or receive guidance and support in overcoming barriers to success. Whatever resources a woman needs, the alliance is helping support each individual on her journey.
This initiative of collective organizations working together is advancing women in Kansas City by leveraging and elevating each other. Sherry believed this could be accomplished while reducing the overlap of women services. Many organizations aspire to develop collective impact, OneKC for Women has achieved it.
Turner has a long history of working on behalf of Kansas City small businesses through previous service with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the Kansas City Area Development Council.
Past winners of the Legacy Award include Bert Berkley, William H. Dunn Sr., Donald J. Hall, Patricia Brown-Dixon, Danny O'Neill, Barnett Helzberg, the late Ewing Marion Kauffman and many more.
Turner and the winners of this year's 25 Under 25® Awards will be featured during a gala event on Feb. 28 at the Downtown Marriott's Muehlebach Tower.
We hope that you will join us in congratulating Sherry Turner on this prestigious and well-deserved honor!
MU School of Law Selects Polsinelli’s Cortney Mendenhall for Top Honor
Mendenhall, a member of Women's Capital Connection, was chosen for Distinguished Recent Graduate Award and was honored April 25, 2014 at the MU School of Law.
The University of Missouri School of Law selected Polsinelli’s Cortney E. Mendenhall as its 2014 recipient of the Distinguished Recent Graduate Award. Mendenhall is a shareholder in the firm’s Life Sciences Practice who focuses on concept to market issues for startup and technology companies, among others. Her recent client results include representing a specialty pharmaceutical company in its $100 million sale to a publicly held company. In addition, she is very active in mentoring law students and entrepreneurs.
“Cortney is a great role model for our more recent graduates because of her dedication to the practice of law, her professionalism and collegiality, and her willingness to help train the next generation of law students,” said University of Missouri School of Law Dean Gary Myers.
Where Women Entrepreneurs Can Find Support in Kansas City
KCUR Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann chats with Women's Capital Connection network manager, Kelly Pruneau and Hilary Brown, founder and CEO of Hilary's Eat Well.
To Get Promoted, Women Need Champions, Not Mentors!
Vickie Elmer discusses how instead of adding a mentor or more Twitter followers this fall, women need someone far more powerful for their career if they want to succeed: a sponsor…
Click here to read the full story!
Aratana Therapeutics files first earnings report as public company
Click here to read the full story on the starting success of Aratana!
In The Spotlight: Exporting
Your business has survived the startup phase. You have employees, a product line and you’ve found your customers.
Congratulations, you have entered the “second stage” of business. Next stop: world domination.
Kauffman Foundation Partners with Weekly Dream Big America Live Radio Entrepreneur Competition
The Kauffman Foundation’s 1 Million Cups program is pairing up with Dream Big America in giving its entrepreneurs a chance to compete on the first-ever weekly live radio entrepreneur competition. Each week 1 Million Cups has 2 local entrepreneurs pitch their startups to an audience of mentors, advisors, and other entrepreneurs. The best presenters out of all the 1 Million Cups programs across the nation will appear on Dream Big America!
You can read more about the partnering here
Growing Challenges for Female Entrepreneurs
Kansas City's myEDmatch Wins First Dream Big America Radio Face Off
The Kansas City-based job-matching site for educators, myEDmatch, has recently won the first round of Dream Big America, which is a national radio show that pits startups against each other. myEDmath is co-founded by Alicia Herald and Munro Richardson. The competition is based on votes that can be texted, called in, or placed online. Read more about the competition and how to vote here.
Kansas City Startup Village Named the Inaugural NetWork Kansas Entrepreneurship (E-) Village
On July 11th NetWork Kansas announced that Kansas City Startup Village was selected as the first NetWork Kansas Entrepreneurship Village. The E-Village has been awarded $125,000 in tax credits, which will lead to KCSV raising approximately $167,000 to be loaned for startup businesses in the Kansas City, KS area. You can find more information about the project here.
Ideas Remaking the World: The Rise of the Women’s Business Power Base
The rise of the women’s business power base will be one of the primary roads out of the economic malaise of our time.
I see evidence of this every day as I talk with women entrepreneurs and business women globally, and saw a microcosm of this phenomenon at the recent International Women’s Forum conference held in San Francisco and attended by 750 women from 40 countries. more >
Changing the Face of Angel Investing
This is a guest post to Forbes.com by Rania Anderson, an entrepreneur who accelerates women’s professional and business success through executive coaching, her blog The Way Women Work, speaking engagements, mentoring and equity investments. She is a cofounder of the women’s angel investor network, the Women’s Capital Connection. more >