My Experience with Pitching in Utah…

My experience in the last 2 years with VC firms and Angels in Utah is that everyone has been very kind and helpful to guide me in fulfilling my Start Up Princess dreams…I feel completely supported and loved by the entrepreneurial community and the mentors I know and have met in the early stages of idea development and business planning. Yet, I have not been really ready to pitch until just recently, so I am just now in the real scene. So far, so good…

The competitions are different, yet there is REAL cash. In the competitions they say they would fund women if they found a solid plan and a solid team with real potential. Gary Williams, a member of Utah Angels and BYU Business Plan Competition advisor has told me that if a woman has a top plan, she will win at BYU if she convinces the judges. I’m not so sure. I was there, I was close, yet I could not convince the judges at BYU in Utah (but I did in North Carolina and in Texas! Granted there was improvement each time)…I wonder if I would have been in the top 3 if I had won at the national competitions before the BYU one. Hmmm…after I returned from those national competitions I was the local Marriot school celebrity, or rather, the THEATRE student celebrity that won recognition at national competitions…weird. Radio interviews, newspaper, even Martha Stewart’s ghost writer for her “Martha’s Rules” book about being an entrepreneur.

I think part of what you have to convince the judges and the Angel investors is that you are commited to make the dream happen…they doubt that a woman will really put in the effort to make their investment payoff because of Utah culture and attitudes about women working. However, despite a cultural and religious emphasis on staying home to work, many women are running home-based businesses. In fact, UTAH is #1 in the COUNTRY for Women-Owned Businesses…. where are these women getting their funding? Are they all bootstrapping? There ARE women who want to make a “go” of their business and try to get it off the ground, but need funding. At least I do! I know it will be hard to run a business, but I am committed and I want to do it. When I am funded I will demonstrate that I would do what I need to do to make it work. Fortunately in my case, my husband can help me a lot and works from home. So, we’ve sorted through those issues already. However, all a long I wanted to hire a management team as soon as possible. I knew my role was to pull it together and build the team to execute the vision.

It gives me a great deal of hope to see that Rachael Herrscher received funding for Today’s Mama and Wendy Bird received funding for My Princess Pearls. There are a few others from Utah…I want to be next. We have to be REALLY prepared and demonstrate that their investment will be worthwhile…that we’re committed. Or, if WE aren’t going to be in management, that we HAVE the TEAM in place. This is critical to success!

One of my biggest dreams for Start Up Princess is to have a Business Plan competition for Women ONLY and fund women as an Angel investor. There are so many brilliant women out there that are NOT being heard because they can’t get their face in front of investors. I was one of 3 women in the room at the meeting yesterday, I think I was the ONLY Woman Entrepreneur there. That is precisely why Start Up Princess is important, we need child care at meetings. We need support to fulfill our dreams.

Any other ideas and comments about this issue? What is your experience with pitching to investors?

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  1. Hello,
    My experience is: If you don’t have an MBA or a huge network of friends or neighbors, you are out on the chopping block. If only someone would listen to us? We made 4 million last year and I started my companies with 20 dollars given to me by my husband in a bet that I couldn’t do it. We were featured on Channel 4, and millionaire blueprints, Bloomberg news, twice in Entrepreneur magazine etc………. Our company is in need of growth capital and we can’t find ONE person to listen to us. NOT ONE! We should do another 4 million this year and yet still not one person will give me the time of day. If only we had an angle/ mentor network for woman with little education? I have a 9th grade education and not much experience with financials. I have searched for a mentor for over five years without any luck, this is the first time I have talked to anyone about this. I built this company with nothing but pure passion to create jobs for stay at home moms, and people who need jobs that are in difficult situations. Funny how we work so hard to build something only to get blocked at every corner. We support 60 families in Utah and Europe, 90% of them are people who cannot get a traditional job. Our plan for expansion and growth is good yet getting anyone to listen is almost impossible in Utah. WHY can’t a woman find a good mentor? Why can’t a woman get an ear to hear her? If you don’t talk the right language, have an MBA or know the right people then you are out of luck. I started our company in my rented apt. living room with kids running all over me from 20 dollars to 4 million in just 5 years. Seems someone would want to listen? Every investor I have talked to has told me I am literally just to stupid and I need someone to come run my company for me. Funny how they all understand the numbers but they don’t even have any numbers to look at without us creating them! Thanks for hearing me, any suggestions or mentors are welcome!!! I am so glad to see woman talking about this.

  2. WOW, congrats, Diane!!

    I will be contacting you…let’s talk! thanks for sharing your story and we’ll see how to help you get what you need to grow your already successful business even more!!

    Best,

    Kelly




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