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Research results on small business funding opps


As a companion to the posting “Funding & revenue: chicken and egg” here is a brief summary of some of the research performed and the results:

SBA Small Business Loan – I visited US Bank and talked to them about a potential SBA loan to kick start a brand new business.  End result was that there were no loan programs available to meet the needs of a small software company trying to get started.  They also told me that the SBA continues to increase the bar for any new business by continually eliminating the types of businesses that can get loans and increasing the minimum standards.  The only loans that were even possible required a large amount of collateral.  So based upon this meeting with US Bank, let me call bulls&%t on the SBA & the Economic Recovery Act.

Oregon Angel Network – I spent $250 and submitted an application to be considered for a presentation spot for the May meeting.  According to a representative I met at the Big Idea Bash there were over 70 applications  submitted.  Of those 3 were to be chosen to present to a meeting of 50 investors that pool their funds together  The result of our application was a nice email that provided us a few bullets of feedback on our business and application.  As expected, our company was not selected. But the feedback was valuable to help set the tone for what the Angels are looking for:  “the 3 companies selected to present this cycle were all a bit farther along with existing customers and revenue” & ” The group tends to look for some level of customer traction and success in a specific vertical as a milestone” From this one data point seems like Angels are becoming more like VCs where they are organizing a fund and looking for the one big win.

Venture Capitalists – I attended the Oregon State Treasurers “Big Idea Bash”. I had high hopes for seeing some real action based upon the marketing for the event.  The event did give us the chance to meet with 1 VC firm for 10 minutes.  Not exactly what I expected and not the type of exposure that can help a small business.  But it did result in a followup meeting and a new VC relationship here in town.  After the bash left me light on data from the venture capital community I then shifted my focus and I spoke with several VC firms that I know out of the state.  Overall the VCs found our business very interesting and “got it”. Several have shown interest in participating in an initial institutional round.  As for now, they told me that they don’t invest in the earliest stage of a business before revenue.  This sentiment was echoed 5 times over, so we can take that as a pretty good sample.

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David Abramowski is a technologist turned product leader. David was a co-founder of Morph Labs, one of the first Platform as a Service plays on AWS. He was the GM for Parallels Virtuozzo containers, enterprise business, and most recently he is the leader of the product marketing team for the IT Operations Management solutions at the hyper growth SaaS company, ServiceNow.