Watch Out Boston, A Rip-Off is Coming to Town

Apparently, our work to weed out unscrupulous venture events is not done. Today, I learned that Boston entrepreneurs will be fleeced in order to have the opportunity to pitch to VCs. 

To quote my partner Seth:

“THERE IS NO CIRCUMSTANCE IN WHICH ENTREPRENEURS SHOULD PAY TO PITCH THEIR BUSINESS TO PROSPECTIVE INVESTORS. PERIOD. END OF STORY.”

It’s not just Seth. Much of the credit goes to Jason Calacanis for leading the charge against such practices.  But while Jason was instrumental in dissolving a few pay-for-pitch groups, it seems like this one has managed to survive. (Hopefully not for long).

  • Name:  Young Startup Ventures
  • Date and Location: April 21st, at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center in Boston, MA. 
  • Cost: $4,500.

Now unlike some other events like this, there are a list of credible VCs attending and it is being held at Microsoft. This makes it all the more worse. I bet that some are unaware of the payment mechanism. 

Just for toppers, this group offered one company that I know a featured “Top 20 innovators spot” if they paid their bounty. So these con artists are also trying to con the VCs on what the best companies are by who pays. Nice work. This just makes the whole thing dirtier than it already was.

Overheard from one VC planning to attend is that he wouldn’t fund a company that pays for access like this, as it shows they aren’t that smart. Question why the VC is attending, I don’t know. But I bet it’s not a unique viewpoint.

I’d encourage both entrepreneurs and VCs to boycott this event. There is plenty of money around the table here to have an event that doesn’t steal from founders.

Jason Mendelson is a managing director at Boulder-based VC firm Foundry Group. He blogs at www.jasonmendelson.com.

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45 Comments

  • I have to take issue with the idea that this is somehow immoral or unethical. Before I explain, let me say I am a repeat entrepreneur/CEO who has participated in a number of (no-pay) “pitching” events. None of those events ever resulted in funding. Most were poorly attended by partners (for the reason I state below).

    Let me ask you about an analogous situation:

    Your portfolio company has a product that you think could pivot and be a breakthrough solution for the financial industry. Your CEO believes the value prop/ROI is really clear and the first-year revenue from any particular major customer would be $5M. But getting meetings with the major bank CIOs has been tough. The CEO calls and says there is a conference that costs $10K where one is guaranteed to present in a small session to many of the decisionmakers.

    You would tell him/her it’s a rip-off and immoral, so don’t go?

    Why is the reaction to this type of event so different when it’s about selling stock rather than product? Do you feel the same way about DEMO?

    Now – despite my defense – I do not think these types of events actually have significant yield, and I would probably not do one again, even if it were free. Regardless of how open VCs claim to be, they like deals that have a “proprietary” aura to them – and presenting at conferences like this is like standing on the corner (there’s probably some pimp analogy for Young Startup in there ;-) .

  • 1. Boston has a problem with payola and it’s going to end shortly.
    2. Open Angel Forum forever….. we roll together.

    best,

    Jason

  • The reaction is different to these types of conferences for stock versus product because of relative scarcity and the lemons problem.

    In the case of product, most of the attending companies have potential markets much larger than they could currently address, but are short of awareness in those markets. Even once they have awareness, the company has to diagnose which prospects are legitimate possible near-term paying customers versus not (their budget situation, incumbent product/service vendors and their relative strengths, technology adoption characteristics, company politics)… in the case of product the goal is to load up the funnel and start sifting. It is finding needles in the haystack, so it makes sense to pay for targeted access to more hay.

    In the case of stock, the supply is terribly constrained relative to the potential buyers. In the case of a Series A, many if not most individual firms would prefer to write one check and do it alone. All the potential buyers are known (in the case of VCs), and they advertise what types of deals they want to participate in via their firm website bio, blogs, etc. And so, a competent entrepreneur with an interesting business will have ZERO trouble identifying the likely candidate investors and approaching them directly. The competent VCs with interesting dealflow will have ZERO trouble filling their day with interesting meetings with entrepreneurs without resorting to pay-to-pitch conferences. So the pay-to-pitch investment conference is charging weaker entrepreneurs for access to weaker funding sources. It is like trying to find a silver needle in a pile of rusty needles.

    That’s why there’s a double standard — because pitching stock and pitching product are very, very different things.

  • I agree in principle with you, but think it’s something that lends itself more to a sliding scale than an ultimatum. I’m constantly seeing networking events costing under $100 where entrepreneurs can schmooze with each other as well as investors, lawyers and other people in the startup world.

    Yes, the organizers of these events generally try to make money, but they’re not gouging. And attendees generally learn something valuable and make some connections. So, while I agree no entrepreneur should pay for the express purpose of making a pitch, charging an affordable sum (NOT $4,500!) for a venue that might include VC facetime seems reasonable.

  • Well, it demonstrates how ineffective fundraising is, and that is because VC does not behave like a real market. More on that on my blog.

    On top of that, subprime VC attracted for ten years subprime entrepreneurs that submit to the rigors of an ineffective market. So, of course people spring up that want to get paid ironing out those inefficiencies, it’s macro behavior.

    It is the same reason why there (still) is a need for placement agents to bring VCs to LPs and vice versa. They too want and should get paid to deal with the market inefficiencies (albeit performance based).

    The real issue is that VCs should do their own “hunting” for deals by virtue of their unique investment thesis. I would question any VC that shows up at a paid event (by entrepreneurs), because it means they do not know how to do their job and attract innovation unique to their thesis.

    Best,

    Georges

  • Hmm… So paying for access is a bad thing? What about charging a fee to folks for access to deal flow to make an investment? How’s that 2% mgmt fee treating the PE/VC world? Pretty nice, huh?

    The folks who back no fee events should be cut off from mgmt fees and take a ‘No hypocrite here’ pledge. You and your ilk should earn your fee for success only, not for access PLUS success…. LPs should NOT pay for your deal flow access. Just sayin’….

  • Charles – I agree with you 100% Jason and Seth are real hypocrites.

    not only are they taking 2% management fees, but Mobius and Foundry team are taking more than they should in equity.

    Jason how much does Mobius and Foundry Take??
    do you make your start-ups pay for the legal work??

    LPs – watch out. these guys look like crooks to me.

    Think it’s kinda repulsive how you’re slandering a group for producing events and charging money.

    BTW – have you ever used an investment banker Jason?

  • Charles and Ben, your comments make no sense to me.

    We take a management fee because we are running a business and forgoing all other jobs that we might engage in. Running the back office, traveling around and meeting entrepreneurs costs a lot money and without management fees, VCs would not be able to run a company and we would not have a VC ecosystem. It’s really well settled and has been around for more than 50 years.

    If you want to get upset about mega funds that have massive management fees, that’s a discussion, but certainly doesn’t apply to us.

    We are no different than any VC firm, with respect to these issues, so “LPs watch out” would pertain to all VCs, not just us. If that is your opinion, that is fine, but then you clearly don’t like or understand our industry.

    What is a key differences here is that these folks aren’t running a business, rather just trying to get some side cash from cash-starved private companies. In addition, while VCs and investment bankers exists because they perform a service that other can’t do by themselves (for instance LPs can’t find the startups and I don’t have the same skills as an IB), these guys aren’t providing any service to the entrepreneurs. VCs are easy to contact and find outside of this conference.

    As for legal work – I have no idea what this means. If a startup hires a lawyer, they should pay for them. As for legal work in financings, it’s always been that way and I’m not sure why, but it’s the VCs money anyways, so there really isn’t a conflict here.

    Since we return all management fees and expenses before we take carry, we are indifferent to who pays for things like this, because we don’t get paid until our LPs get all of this back, so I don’t spend any time thinking about it.

    As for “slandering” – I’m just reporting the facts – which I can back up, so please refrain from using words that you can’t back up. You’ll be happy to know that several participants that were scheduled for the event have asked me for my backup and have since terminated their relationships with the group and the event.

    I’m not sure why anyone would object to my position, unless one was involved with taking money from startups that they shouldn’t. If we are all to support the innovation economy, we all have the incentives to make sure that startups flourish.

  • Jason – do you think your readers are fools?

    1. your fund takes 2% management fees from LPs for introducing them to startups. you claim it’s to run yoru

    business since it cost smoney to travle, meet etc.

    and producing events happens on its own? they probably pay more for venues and catering a year then you do rent.

    2. No one is getting upset at mega funds for taking fees. if they can get em good for them. we live in america

    afterall.

    What we sophisticated entrepreneurs dislike are VCs like you who try to scapegoat on others in the name of

    “entrepreneurship” and yet everything you’re bitching about you do. that’s called TWO FACED!!!!

    4. You say you’re no different then other VCs. that’s NOT SO. seems like you guys founded techstars and are see these guys as competition so you’re trying to make a name for yourselves. that’s why you’re jumping on these groups to seem like the saviour. yah. in
    the hopes of having the deals come your way before they get to other VCs.

    VCs – be carfeul

    5. You say “these folks aren’t running a business, rather just trying to get some side cash from cash-starved private companies.”

    Since when is producing events not running a business? why shoudnt they have a right to charge startups?

    i checked our their site on http://www.youngstartup.com and see top VCs and emerging companies giving them thumbs up. guess these VCs dont have a business model like yours i.e. techstars YOU CROOK

    6. you claim “investment bankers exists because they perform a service that other can’t do by themselves ….these guys aren’t providing any service to the entrepreneurs. VCs are easy to contact and find outside of this conference.”

    if it’s so easy – so why are startups in need of I banking services you moron. you seem to contradict yourself left and right. if it’s so easy so why are you ok with startups paying investment bankers? MAKE up your mind and stop trying to confuse the startups of the world!

    7. As for legal work – yes startups should pay..since they get a service. producing a conference doesnt happen without someone putting in the effort dimmwit

    8. hey if you return all fo yrou mamnagement fees – so dont take them at the beginning.

    9. As for “slandering” – you claim you are reporting the facts. what facts do you have?

    10. not sure i speak for charles but I object to your nonsense cause you’re two faced and up to no good.

    STARTUPS and VCs – make sure you analyze the situation here. dont be naive and trust these guys. if they bad mouth others this way…..it could be you someday too.

  • BTW – Jason – I tried to post directly on your blog at least 5 times. Why are you not allowing those posts?

    yah – i know, your next post will be i dont control that. it’s run by another company (maybe one you invested in?

    common man – people are smarter than that

  • Ben,

    Your emotions are getting the better part of your argument.

    You are assuming things that aren’t true. I don’t feel the obligation to respond to most of your rant, as your reality does not match mine, but do feel like there is a duty for me to respond to your muckracking of Techstars.

    Techstars isn’t about competition or deal flow. In fact, out of the 40 companies that have gone through the program, we’ve funded exactly one. It’s about volunteering time along with dozens of other VCs (we are just a small part of it) trying to help people start companies. And the program pays the entrepreneur money, not the other way around.

    I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’m probably pretty accurate in that there are VCs out there who have funded upwards of 4-6 Techstars teams, so we are definitely in the minority here.

    I’m not sure why you are so upset. I’m only trying to look out for the good entrerepeneurs out there. I agree that what is normally good for them is good for us too, but my post has nothing but earnest care about people getting ripped off.

    I’m sorry that you’ve had trouble posting to my blog. It’s the first that I’ve heard of it and I let all comments stand that are real comments and not spam. (If you had posted this, I would have left it). I’m happy to speak to you live if you’d like to discuss. All my contact information is public on our website.

  • Jason – i feel it’s a shame that you continuously dodge the questions posed at you. you’re still trying to put one over on these readers.

    you’re right, what i’m about to say below are assumptions, but i feel it is my duty to let people in on your little secret. lets analyze the following:

    1. you founded techstars
    2. you get a piece of the action that techstars gets (whatever that agreement is, equity in all companies, sponsorship etc)
    3. you get a first look advantage at all the deals (warning: VCs dont fall for this)
    4. you could if you wanted to…have the best companies skip techstars and get em for your other funds (warning: VCs dont fall for this)
    5. even if you invest in only one techstar company – that’s good for you (publicity and ALL)
    6. you build brand recognition for your other funds, keep tabs on VCs, etc and show everyone that you are well connected (a plus for your fund…thinking LPs will love you)

    Now that’s a true altruist. someone who does everything, inlcuding wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, write his blog, invest in companies, launch techstars, slander companies and go to the bathroom ALL for the benefit of the startups out there.

    I encourage ALL READERS of this blog – take a close look at Jason and analyze why he’s yelling so much about conferences that charge money, yet he takes a 2% management fee.

    Jason – you never did answer the question about wether you make the companies pay the legal fees to get the deal done. I bet you do. and YOU of all people should be ashamed of yourself.

    Is Jason TRULYan altruist or is that just what he wants you to beleive? Think about it…

    Enough Said!

  • Ben, what do any of these personal attacks have to do with my article? And what does Techstars have to do with ANY of this? I’m not dodging your questions, rather they are irrelevant to my article, misguided and have nothing to do with the subject. I don’t know if we’ve ever met, but if we have I’m sorry if I’ve offended you, but you are way off base here, so I’m done.

    Whether you like me, not like me, think I’m a crook or avoiding anything (which I’d strongly argue otherwise on all of these), the question is – is it appropriate to charge entrepreneurs to pitch? I say no. I’m not even sure what you think about this. I’m not trying to do anything other than that.

    If you want to discuss Techstars, I’ve offered to speak to you personally. If you take me up on it, great. If you continue to play “hater” on the blogs, then I’ll take it that you just like to argue in cyberspace, which is fine, too.

  • i can’t beleive my eyes.

    did i just read correctly on your blog jason? you sit on the board of the National VC Association, yet Mark Hessen the president is speaking at a pay-to-pitch conference? Please be sure to publicly tell Mark Hessen Off immediately and demand that he either cancel his speech or that you will step down from your (“altruistic”) position.

    we the entreprneurs of the world will not allow you Jason – to let this one go. you might otherwise be called a hypocrit…shsh

  • Jason,
    Wow, what self-indicting junk logic… “It’s really well settled and has been around for more than 50 years.”

    So in that case communism was around for over 70 years, and still doing great in China, so why stop…?

    Moreover, you justify your fees “to run a back office”…. so that gives you carte blanche freedom to charge a fee to offset rent, t&e, etc to pursue sometimes questionable opportunities, sometimes great deals as well as the various fire drill? Ha ha… Fun times.

    Also, you poke that these groups who charge a fee aren’t a real business… Glad you are THE arbiter of Commerce in America…

    Here’s a novel idea Captain Commerce: It’s a free market. If people don’t like it, it will die. If people like it, it will live.

    Get over yourself and let the free market do what it will do….

    You (and mgmt fee-taking VCs/PEs) remind me of “A streetcar named Desire” …. you all rely on the kindness of strangers (LPs) to get by…

    BTW I am a corporate finance person who believes that junk fees I regularly see PE/VC shops charge LPs rip off the pensioners, teachers, firemen, universities and other folks who trust you to make money. Man up and be honest: You take money regardless of success.

  • Jason – do you agree that Mark Heesen and the NVCA should boycott pay-to-play conferences that charge startups to present to investors?

    YES or NO?

    PE Hub readers, let’s look at what jason has to say. warning…he may try to dodge the question. it’s getting a little uncomfortable for him to stick up for what he “believes” in. after all he sits on the board of the NVCA.

    Jason – dont bother answering a long winded answer or say you’re above ansering thsi. that just proves your scum.

    Just say YES or NO…and of course what you intend to do about it.

    i’ll help you out. you have two options.

    if you answer YES then we expect to see you Blog about Mark Heesen keynoting and call him on it. and threaten the NVCA that you cannot sit on it’s board and allow your name to be associated ever again if they support such conferences that take advantage of startups.

    if you answer NO – then you prove to the world you’re a rat.

    dont take too long

  • This comment stream got wacky in a hurry.

  • Fello entrepreneurs (and investors): as you can see Jason has decided to ignore my questions.

    the VC world is based on integrity and he has none. there are plenty of better investors out there trust me, and i warn you – do not get close to him

  • Things have got rather heated rather quickly, and while I disagree with a lot of what Ben says, and also the rather frantic way in which he says it, I also think that Jason is really misguided.

    The idea that venture capitalists are benign money-givers just waiting to hand over their cash is a quaint one. Jason argues the VC management fee as part of the running of a business, whilst neglecting to award this title to an industry event. Some would argue that these events offer a valuable service to connect entrepreneurs and investors. To manage the logistics of such an event, takes time, and money. Be realistic. ‘side cash’? I don’t think so.

    And ‘VCs are easy to contact and find outside of this conference.’ Again, I don’t think so. Maybe you can get straight through to Jason on his glowing red batphone, but succesful, proven VCs are near-impossible to contact on any meaningful basis. Have you tried getting Tim Draper on the phone recently?

    These events have a place. Whether we like it or not.

    That is all. Let the madness continue.

  • Wow! After reading these comments I need to go get a drink. I’m exhausted!

    The management fees are way out of whack. A 2% fee on $150M fund is $3M per year. How much exactly does it cost to run a firm with four partners, two analysts and a receptionist these days? Many VC’s are getting rich from the management, that in itself is wrong.

    Question: When a VC flies from NY to SF in business class (or first class) for a board meeting does the VC company pay for that or is the company handed the expense?

    Question: When a round is completed why is it the company has to pay not only their own legal bill but the investors bill. A series a round can cost around $50k. I would rather take the $50k and hire an employee to add value to the company.

    Question: Why does a VC get personal stock grants when they make an investment in a company and sits on the board. Isn’t this their job to manage the LP’s investment. Aren’t they already receiving a management fee to do this. Is this double dipping?

    The VC model is broken and needs to be tweaked. However, this will only take shape when LP’s wake up.

  • Extra Extra!

    Jason posted on his blog how conferences should charge entrepreneurs $150 or less to ATTEND.

    Meanwhile i just learned that his partner Seth Levine chairs a conference in the Rockies that charges entrepreneurs $1,095 JUST TO ATTEND!: http://vcirwinter.com/register/. now typically – I’d say let the conference organizer charge what they want to charge and the adults can decide for themselves if it’s worth it….. but he’s the one saying entrepeneurs should not pay more than 150.

    sounds like Jason and Seth are pissing in the wind.

    OH, and the service providers that Jason said should be picking up the Tab are being asked to pay $895. that’s less than the startups. hmmm………

    WOW Jason – thought your funds (foundry group and mobius) had a good reputation up till now.

  • Jason Mendelson: it might be worthwhile to do a little investigative piece on the accusations
    against Jason C. and friends? A little independent view might help sort the wheat from the
    chaff for knuckleheads like me.

  • everything stated above is about Jason Mendelson and Seth Levine of Foundry Group and Mobius, not jason C.

    Jason Mendelson is the one who said start-ups should not be asked to pay more than $150 meanwhile his partner Seth is making them pay $1095 just to attend.

    Pissing in the Wind!

    No one should trust Jason Mendelson with anything.

  • > everything stated above is about Jason Mendelson and Seth Levine of Foundry Group
    > and Mobius, not jason C.

    OK, so I really am a knucklehead! :) I need a scorecard to keep track of who’s who in this
    whole saga…

  • Open Angel Forum will be in Boston in 2010.

    End of discussion. People who charge will not be in business shortly…. the free option is coming and entrepreneurs are smart. They will not pay to pitch unless they are new to the industry and get duped by the scumbags who charge…. and they will only get fooled once.

    SF and NY dates coming up…. apply for free, pitch for free… eat for free, etc.

    http://openangelforum.com/2010/02/07/applications-open-for-oaf-sf-march-4th/
    http://openangelforum.com/2010/02/07/applications-open-for-new-york/

    If you’re an angel interested in signing up for future cities there is a form on the OAF site.

    Game over.

    OAF will be in 10 cities in 2010 and 15-20 in 2011.

    Game over.

  • Wow ….What a scam!

    Jason CalicANUS who are you calling scumbag?. You’re the one who CHARGED start-ups to present and dine with VCs and Angel investors when you were running silicon alley reporter events before you failed, REMEMBER?

    So now you figure – you’ll try a NEW BUSINESS model/gimmick. you’ll fool everyone into thinking that you are an altruist (looking out for the good of entrepreneurs).

    Meanwhile you plan on CHARGING Service providers and investors with the goal of MAKING MONEY! That’s your FREE MODEL??? Nice Try.

    Friends –
    Nothing in life is free! nothing! and when Jason claims to be fighting legitimate conferences and angel networks in Boston and NY like New York Angels, Common Angels he’s simply trying to make name for himself, and MONEY.

    Potential Sponsors and Angels:
    I encourage you to avoid attending any of Jason’s events. avoid him like a plague. Getting close to him is dangerous for you and your company. it’ll do you more bad than good. if you do something like charge your clients a little more than he thinks is ok, or take more equity than he thinks is ok, he will call you out (when it suits him) and say your GAME IS OVER.

    His dad owned a bar so he grew up with some bad habits i.e. acting like a drunk gangster. He’s even proud of it.

    don’t forget – he’s not doing it for anyone but himself.

  • > everything stated above is about Jason Mendelson and Seth Levine of Foundry Group and Mobius, > not jason C.

    OK, but now you say:

    “Jason CalicANUS who are you calling scumbag?. You’re the one who CHARGED start-ups to
    present and dine with VCs and Angel investors when you were running silicon alley reporter
    events before you failed, REMEMBER?”

    So, Jason “M” *and* Jason “C” are the problem? Are there any other “Jasons” in the house
    I need to watch out for Ben? Just trying to keep track of who’s who in the saga.

  • One final thought (for both sides of this discussion):

    “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”
    — Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Jason CalicANUS is a nut so i wasn’t even interested in talking about him till… he started trying to suggest that anyone who does not offer free this and free that is evil and their game is over.

    if that’s his model fine, but why put others down and speak that way? and why try to deceive people into thinking that you’re fighting for the entrepreneur when you’re really in it for the money.

    here’s a perfect example:

    he claims he wants to limit the service providers at his events to 5 yet on his website he thanks SIX service providers for registering in Boulder. This should be sufficient proof that he’s in it for the Money.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with Jason. Nonetheless, I have to say that if I would not have to leave for Europe, I would have attended a gathering, and I would have paid almost $1,000 (just for attending, not pitching), that while I already have access to investors. I just wanted to meet those present at the gathering (see http://www.privateequityforums.com/message.html) for the exact reason Matthias (1st response) states: I believe in my business/offering.

    Reality is that if the Open Angel Forum becomes widely available and known, it may indeed be “Game Over” for these “for profit” intermediaries. And that is a good thing, but only if they can guarantee that the event and attendees is fruitful and serious. You have to replace the for-profit intermediary industry with great open access events.

  • Wanna make sure you all check out my post calling out Dan Primack on his biased reporting with no factual support.

    http://www.pehub.com/64163/the-underbelly-of-silicon-valley-vc-finders/#comment-88681

    Unfortunately it looks like he’s decided that reporting for brownie points with no facts to support him is better than reporting based on facts.

  • Jason,
    How come you have not called out the investors that attend the “pay to present” events. Especially when they say ” i would never invest in a company that pays to present”?

    Serious VC players do not need to attend these pay to play events. Maybe the only reason they attend these events is to schmooze and network with fellow VC’s.

    I would advise any/all startups that not only should you rethink attending a “pay to present” event but also do a bit of due diligence of the quality of VC’s attending the event.

    And i would take it a step further, before attending any event, reach out to investors who previously attended the event and see if it is worthwhile to participate. They might not answer you, but if you get a reply you are going to get an honest answer.

  • Jason – call out the vc’s who give legitimacy to these events.. why lend your credibility to events that gouge startups. It is not enough just to call out the event organizers. Call out the enablers.

  • DEMO is one of the bigger pay-to-present conferences and most big VCs etc. go there. Why not
    target them (organizers and VCs that attend)?

    Will Jason be picketing outside DEMO or inside sipping latte’s?

    I smell a “CHALLENGE!” from Ben coming on…

  • ladies and gents – ignore Jason C. it’s obvious he’s a psycho and i’ve clarified his interest in calling out angel groups and conferences (he simply has his own business agenda to promote. it’s called “open angel”). he’s also proven that he’s a scam artist given that he hasn’t responded to my post that called him out on the fact that he used to charge start-ups before he closed SAR. so in short continue the good work in letting him know that we’re smarter than he thinks and we know what he stands for.

    As for Jason Mendelson, now that’s someone i would expect a response from. this was his original blog post wasn’t it? yet he hasn’t responded to our posts.

    JASON – here’s a recap of a previous post. let us know what you think? how come your BS partner Seth Levine thinks charging “struggling start-ups” over $1000 to attend is ok? to attend? $1,000?!!!! why should a startup that you claim in struggling have to pay $1000 just for breakfast and lunch? how much could that cost your group???

    why are you guys taking money from the desperate? oh and why dont you let us know how much equity you guys take from your struggling startups?

    JASON????

    recap

    Jason posted on his blog how conferences should charge entrepreneurs $150 or less to ATTEND.

    Meanwhile i just learned that his partner Seth Levine chairs a conference in the Rockies that charges entrepreneurs $1,095 JUST TO ATTEND!: http://vcirwinter.com/register/. now typically – I’d say let the conference organizer charge what they want to charge and the adults can decide for themselves if it’s worth it….. but he’s the one saying entrepeneurs should not pay more than 150.

    sounds like Jason and Seth are pissing in the wind.

    OH, and the service providers that Jason said should be picking up the Tab are being asked to pay $895. that’s less than the startups. hmmm………

    WOW Jason – thought your funds (foundry group and mobius) had a good reputation up till now.

  • As an impartial observer, I gotta say, Ben’s running away with this one (IMHO).
    Very interesting debate, though. Lotta positioning going on in this crazy game of poker.

  • I’m pleased to announce that PEHUB is feeling the heat and has taken down Dan Primack’s recent post which WAS accessible here: http://www.pehub.com/login.php?p=/64163/the-underbelly-of-silicon-valley-vc-finders/ and is no longer. I assume they agree that Dan has been making a fool of himself and the pehub brand.

    i’m sure many of you alreday saw it. for those who didnt here’s what i posted as a response to Dan’s VERY weak answer to my other questions about his reporting:

    Enjoy!

    Dan – you are making a fool of yourself. you have an email from an entrepreneur that didn’t want to pay Sloan his rates and that is what you are basing your rant on?

    I don’t know sloan at all, but did you research Sloan and his track record?

    Do you know anything about Investment Banking? what data do you have to share with us about the following?

    what percentage of I-bankers raise capital for private companies without an upfront fee?
    How many well respected I bankers do you know of that raise only on success?

    these are the facts i’m asking for.

    As for offering free ads: your point is very misguided!

    Do your ads guarantee your advertisers Sales? if not you better start because that’s exactly what you’re demanding from Sloan and conference organizers.

    The same way you run ads, they offer to feature companies, make intros and put in their time and money. they have a right to charge whatever they wish. who are you to suggest otherwise?

    Does a lawyer who charges by the hour guarantee his client that he will win the case?

    No one guarantees funding, no one. so i’m not sure what your up to, but you are surely not making any sense.

    Now let’s assume that some moron named Jason Mendelson of Foundry Group decided to launch a competitor to PEHUB that guaranteed SALES to his advertisers or their money back. would that mean that you now have to do the same? Of Course Not.

    If he offered Free advertising to struggling companies and you didn’t would that make you bad?

    you have a right to charge how you feel you should charge and allow the consumer to make their decision.

    I want to make clear that I think your BULLY tactics and the way you have handled this entire discussion is despicable and really doesn’t fit well with what your readers expect of peHuB.

    I encourage you to issue an apology.

  • sounds to me like ben pitched jason and seth (maybe even techstars?), got turned down and is looking for a little revenge?

    now – instead of working to build a company (he calls himself an entrepreneur), he spends his time checking this thread to see if jason m has responded to his foolish logic.

    ben – be a man and call jason and take your beef up with him. and if you want to, pay to go to the event fool. unfortunately, you’ll never be able to understand the mechanics/economics behind venture capital but a lot of people a lot smarter than you have established a marketplace whereby those economics fly.

  • What great logic! Because it’s been accepted, it’s acceptable. “You’ll never be able to understand the mechanics/economics behind venture capital.” Perhaps because they’re full of crap and not defendable?

  • jeff w – sounds to me you have no clue what you’re talking about.

    a) i haven’t and won’t apply to techstars especially after finding out that Mendelson is involved with them.
    b) if you’re complaining about me checking this thread, then what in the world are you doing responding to it?
    c) not sure which jason you’re referring to but they’re BOTH fools and scam artists. it’s obvious that CalicANUS is crying about this for his own business venture Open Angel (What a scam). he hasn’t even responded here to the point I made before, i.e. about charging companies at his past events. only fools cant see what he’s up to. he’ll get startups to attend for free and charge the service providers. that’s very altruistic. that’s like giving girls free admission to a club to get the guys in and make them buy drinks all night.

    wake up!

    As for Mendelson it’s a little harder for dumb people like you to realize but he’s no different than CalicANUS.

    VC is about creating a name and following. It’s about getting a look at deals first and about having a good following with startups and other VCs and service firms. Mendelson figures he’ll be clever. he’ll fool you and others into thinking that he’s fighting for the rights of entrepreneurs. THat’s good marketing. That way startups might think of his fund before they think of others.

    wake up!

    FYI – he doesn’t really believe that they deserve anything for free. he hasnt even made a clear argument as to why they would. is it that they are struggling? they have no bread or milk on the table? they’re not getting anything of value?

    if you know anything about any business there’s no reason to suggest that someone you offer a service to should derive that service for free……unless of course like CalicANUS you are trying to simply use that as a marketing ploy to get something out of it from a different side.

    if you want to work with people who go out of their way to fool you be my guest.

    D) you say “pay to go to the event ” why don’t you ask Seth Levine at Foundry Group why he charges “struggling” startups to pay over $1000 just to attend. yet he charges service providers $895.

    seems contradictory to what he has stated he believes in.

    PS i dont expect you to respond Jeff since you won’t be checking this message.

  • I’d lik

    As chairman of the Rocky Mountain Venture Capital Association (www.rockymountainvca.com), the organization that puts on Venture Capital in the Rockies (VCIR Winter & VCIR Fall), I’d like to address the claims in this thread that we charge entrepreneurs to present.

    Neither of these events have ever charged a company to present. We only charge attendees (mostly VCs and service providers) to attend the conference. If there is any profit made by these events, it is used to help put on other events (speakers, workshops, etc) in the region for the benefit of entrepreneurs.

    Mark Solon
    Managing Partner, Highway 12 Ventures
    Chairman, RMVCA

  • Mark – how much do you charge (non presenting) entrepreneurs to attend, and what is the average # of attendees per presenting company?

  • Mike, we charge all non-presenting attendees the same price. The event really isn’t designed for entrepreneurs, though I’m always amazed at how many pay and attend. The feedback we’ve gotten over the years is that entrepreneurs gain a lot of value attending, learning from the presenting companies, and networking with investors, both institutional and angel.

    The event is really designed for VCs from both inside and outside the region to come see what our selection committee deems to be the most promising startups in the region twice a year. The RMVCA sponsors and hosts over a dozen other events each year in the region designed specifically for the benefit of regional entrepreneurs. Whatever profit is made by an event like VCIR, goes towards putting on those events at the lowest cost possible for regional entrepreneurs.

    As for the average # of attendees per presenting company, it’s usually one or two. Each presenting company is allowed to have two people attend for free.

  • [...] to VCs. You can see my post on that subject here, one from my partner Jason Mendelson over on peHUB here, Jason Calicanis’ very popular post on the subject here (and a quick search on Google will pick [...]

  • Wow – could that have been ANY longer?!

    Just so you all know, Ben = Joe Benjamin Founder and CEO of Young Start Up Ventures!

    Everything that “Ben” posted as “unbiased,” actually comes directly from Joe. My favorite is when he says “checked our their site on http://www.youngstartup.com” – HELLO – its your OWN website!!! Joe’s talent for leading people off the negative aspects of Young Startup Ventures is commendable. As is his “impartial” trashing of his competition while simultaneously building up the Young StartUp Ventures model.

    With that said – Readers – please take everything posted above (and any responses) with a grain of salt since it is all really just self promoting BS

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