Raising venture capital is unnatural and unnerving, but it doesn’t have to be
There are people out there who just love venture capital fundraising. The thought of creating a new pitch deck and getting up in front of strangers to ask for money thrills them. These people are weirdos and you should either avoid them at all cost or become best friends with them, I’m not yet sure which approach is best.
For everyone else, the process of raising money to grow your business is unnatural and unnerving. Fortunately, TechPoint has built up a venture capital pipeline, complete with speed dating events, that demystifies fundraising and helps to connect fundable Indiana tech companies with VC firms that want to invest in them.
“There’s all this mystery and apprehension wrapped up in the fundraising process because it’s just not something you learn until you need it,” said Roger Shuman, senior relationship manager for TechPoint who focuses on scale-ups and venture capital. “The greatest impact we’ve probably had is through answering questions, making connections and drawing more Hoosiers into the process so that the likelihood of future success is higher.”
TechPoint began its VC matchmaking practice seven years ago as a way to introduce winners of Indiana’s top technology awards to a broader audience of investors. Indiana had some exceptional venture capitalists and angel investors at the time—pioneers who deserve a share of credit for the state’s rise as a tech hub—but like nearly everything else, diversity of thought and experience is a key ingredient for sustained success.
Response to those early events was positive, to say the least, and today TechPoint hosts multiple VC Speed Dating events along with year-round fundraising support for its members and the Indiana tech community.
“Our most recent event attracted 24 venture capital firms from 11 different states,” Roger said. “In the span of one day we facilitated 180 Zoom meetings between the VCs and 24 Indiana tech companies that are currently seeking funding.
“Over time, the numbers really start to add up,” he said. “We can safely say that companies have gone on to raise a total of $100 million after participating in our events, just since 2019.”
Roger refused to take credit for the raises. “The credit lies with the entrepreneurs who did the pitching and built the products, services and companies,” he said. However, he proudly explained that TechPoint has documented tens of millions of dollars in investment flowing into Indiana from meetings first facilitated during VC Speed Dating events. The work doesn’t begin and end with the events, either. According to Roger, he’s fielding calls and making connections for VCs and entrepreneurs on a weekly basis.
A great deal of work and intentionality goes into being a quality resource for Indiana tech companies seeking funding. The TechPoint VC matchmaking practice has built trust and positive working relationships with more than 220 firms across the U.S. and Canada, and facilitated nearly 1,100 meetings with Indiana-based tech startups and scale-ups.
VC Speed Dating has experienced deliberate growth in reaching diverse founders as part of TechPoint’s DE&I goals. Thirty-one percent of the participating companies in 2020 were led by diverse founders, and the event has experienced 10 percent growth of diverse founders over the past three years.
For the second year now, TechPoint also included a student component to VC Speed Dating as another path to demystifying the venture capital fundraising process for young and future entrepreneurs. The brainchild of Director of Relationship Management Jennifer Merrell, TechPoint arranged a panel discussion for students attending universities in the state to ask questions of three top Indiana-based investors—Don Aquilano, co-founder and managing partner of Allos Ventures; John McDonald, managing entrepreneur of NEXT Studios; and Landon Young, director of university initiatives and an entrepreneur-in-residence at Elevate Ventures.
The next VC Speed Dating event is currently being planned for October 2021, which will be the first in-person event of its kind since going virtual all of last year due to the pandemic. Interest in the fall event is expected to be high, so VCs and companies seeking funding are both encouraged to complete this form to declare your interest in participating.