- Frequently Asked Questions about StartupLounge
- The StartupLounge.com Team – Learn more about our hosts, volunteers, mentors, and others who make this project possible!
StartupLounge.com is an Atlanta-based 501c6 non-profit (and grassroots) organization with a mission to support the investment process in the development of emerging high-growth companies in Georgia and the southeastern United States.
The problem: The Atlanta area, and much of the Southeast in general, suffer from lack of capital investment into emerging early stage ventures, despite booming population and economic growth, the long-established presence of some of the world’s most important companies, and being home to outstanding centers of academic excellence. Because of certain systemic defects in the Atlanta early stage capital market, many entrepreneurs have become discouraged about the opportunity to grow their businesses in Georgia. This problem plagues much of the southeastern United States.
The causes: Atlanta, relative to markets like Boston and San Francisco, is a relatively young venture capital market. Consequently, there is not the broad, established base of investors that exists in these other markets. Further, entrepreneurs are generally not as sophisticated in their approach to raising capital in the Southeast as they are in more developed venture capital markets. Symptoms of the dysfunctional venture market in Atlanta include the following:
- Most entrepreneurs in the region are untrained in how to identify and approach investors, how to credibly present their opportunities to investors, and how to make their companies attractive from an investment perspective.
- Much of the institutional investment community in Atlanta is disengaged from entrepreneurs. They do not make themselves available to coach and teach entrepreneurs how to make their opportunities more financially attractive.
- Most “professional networking” meetings are attended neither by investors nor by executives of emerging high-growth companies. The mass of service providers and salesmen have scared them off.
- The few consultants who are competent to advise emerging high-growth companies are prohibitively expensive.
- Most “professional networking” meetings are located in the parts of Atlanta to which are the least convenient for most investors to travel.
- Almost none of the institutional investment community in Atlanta is willing to tolerate the risk associated with what used to be called true venture capital opportunities.
- Unscrupulous members of the business community attempt to monetize their rolodexes by promising introductions to potential “investors” in exchange for buying their professional services or for paying thousands of dollars to deliver presentations (“pay-to-pitch”) to rooms of strangers. Others act as amateur brokers, seeking finder’s fees for early-stage investments that result from their introductions. All of these forces create friction in the early-stage capital market that prevents capital from locating investment opportunities.
- Successful entrepreneurs who achieve a successful high-value exit for their companies frequently withdraw from the entrepreneurial community, often because they realize that they lack the skill and experience to invest in other, emerging companies to give someone else the chance that someone years ago gave them.
The myths: Many entrepreneurs believe that there is no early stage capital available in Atlanta, and investors think there is a scarcity of quality investment opportunities. Neither is true, but the environment is dysfunctional and there are systematic characteristics of the environment that actively prevent capital and quality opportunities from finding one another.
The solutions: The StartupLounge.com community seeks to be a force for positive change in developing the early stage entrepreneurial community in Georgia by providing education to entrepreneurs and investors (current and potential), and offering opportunities for opportunities and capital to find each other, in person, without interference by salespeople, amateur investment bankers or job-seekers.
Some of our more important activities include the following:
- CapitalLounge: Three times a year, we provide an event where investors and early stage entrepreneurs can find one another without fear of being hassled by salespeople, annoyed by amateur brokers, or interrupted by job-seekers. This event is entirely free of charge to all attendees, and is paid for by select sponsors who identify with and support the StartupLounge.com mission. We typically have approximately 250-300 attendees per event.
- The StartupLounge Podcast: Scott Burkett and Michael Blake periodically record podcasts with influential personalities in the entrepreneurial community and subject matter experts to provide an informative and entertaining educational resource to help entrepreneurs make informed decisions on the critical issues facing their companies every day.
- PitchCamp: Each month, StartupLounge.com offers a free afternoon seminar to 12-15 entrepreneurs to teach them how to carry an effective conversation with investors, both while attending CapitalLounge and outside a StartupLounge event. At PitchCamp, we also teach entrepreneurs how to make follow-up presentations to investors, and how to network to find investors on their own. Additional educational seminars are in development.
- AngelLounge: AngelLounge is currently the largest organized angel investing group in the Southeast, with over 100 active angel investors. Entrepreneurs can submit their deals to this network through their community membership at StartupLounge.com (this site). Additionally, each month, StartupLounge.com hosts a luncheon open only to angel investors and high net worth individuals with the financial means and desire to be an active angel investor. AngelLounge combines lunch with a peer group discussion, facilitated by one of the members.
We encourage entrepreneurs to engage each other in helping to build vibrant businesses. If you need advice on any aspect of building or running your business, we encourage you to ask for help via our forums. If we can’t help you, we will do everything we can to find someone who can. This is our promise and commitment to you, the entrepreneur. Likewise, we encourage those more advanced entrepreneurs and subject matter experts to do their part to make average venture deals better, and to help other entrepreneurs expand their horizons.
We also ask that you please spread the word! If you know an early-stage entrepreneur who is struggling with certain aspects of launching or growing their business, please email them with a link to this site. Conversely, if you know a successful entrepreneur or investor who would like to engage with and mentor those less-experienced entrepreneurs, please extend to them our personal invitation to come and participate here within our community.
A Special Thanks to Our Sponsors: