DR. RICHARD JACOBSEN: TechLaunch trains entrepreneurs in startup strategies
Idaho Statesman Business Insider / May 15, 2012
Early-stage financing is the lifeblood of every startup. Without capital, entrepreneurs can have the best ideas in the world but often have no way to get their product to market.
Raising capital, particularly in Idaho, is no easy feat. Entrepreneurs need to be well prepared to take on the challenges of selling their ideas to the investment community. That’s where TechLaunch comes in.
TechLaunch was first created eight years ago because the staff at IdahoTechConnect realized there was an urgent need to teach entrepreneurs about the complexities of early-stage financing and help them perfect their financing pitch.
Early-stage financing is a complex and daunting process for many entrepreneurs, so TechLaunch seeks to break down barriers that cause growing pains for new companies. The 2012 event is scheduled May 15-16 at Boise’s Grove Hotel and will feature 12 Idaho companies from across the state.
There are different options for early capital, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. TechLaunch teaches business owners about the different financial options available to them and guides them in selecting the most appropriate source of funding. TechLaunch judges represent different sectors of the financial food chain, which provide a balanced view in guiding entrepreneurs on best practices in selecting funding sources.
When the only thing between you and finance dollars is a two-minute sales pitch, it’s critical to have a solid understanding of what investors are looking for and to know how to present your idea in the best possible light. TechLaunch helps participants break down their presentation and home in on key talking points that resonate with investors. Each company that participates in TechLaunch receives personalized feedback from the panel of judges. TechLaunch is essentially a real-life case study of early-stage financing — a valuable opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Although the primary focus of TechLaunch is centered on Entrepreneurial Idol, the competition where startup companies pitch their ideas, TechLaunch also features events that help train the next generation of entrepreneurs. For example, the Idaho Ideas to Market (I2M) competition teaches university students how to conduct market research, a critical part of developing a viable business plan and finance pitch.
Of the 62 startups that have gone through TechLaunch in the past eight years, 45 are still in business and continue to receive development, research and investing capital. For example, Appible, last year’s TechLaunch winner, had several of its applications reach the No. 1 position for sales in the Apple App Store in a dozen countries. Appible’s list of clients includes the U.S. Army, Brigham Young University and the San Diego Zoo — an impressive accomplishment for a small company headquartered in Rexburg.
The startup companies that benefit from TechLaunch have the potential to bring about a significant future return on investment. Many of Idaho’s great businesses, such as HP or Simplot, started from humble beginnings. The TechLaunch competition could potentially incubate the next Micron or ProClarity. TechLaunch is valuable because by helping our entrepreneurs, we encourage them to keep their businesses — and the jobs they create — in Idaho.
DR. RICHARD JACOBSEN, Director of research and technology transfer at Idaho State University and a member of the Idaho Technology Council.
Contact: [email protected]; 282-4191