Gaining Relationships and Getting Money: Early Stage East’s 15th Year
Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Inspiration
On Thursday, October 5th, a community of investors and promising startups that ranged from technology to crafting gathered together at the Early Stage East Conference at the Downtown Club in Philadelphia to present business ideas and gain much needed relationships to continue to grow their businesses.
“We came here to get money”, said Andre Swanston, president of Dreve a web-based startup that promises to help you break through the clutter of curating content relevant to its users on the Internet.
Swanston was one of the presenters in the events main feature, a 4-6 minute pitch competition where startup owners pitched their business to judges like Daymond John, founder of FUBU and costar of ABC show “Shark Tank”, while Blackboard CEO Michael Chasen gave the audience a compelling keynote speech on how to move their businesses forward. As participants of the 15 year old competition, John and Chasen offered guests an exciting view of what it is like to be apart of a venture competition like Early Stage East and walk out of it, working hard to become a successful business owner.
Andre Swantson, President of Dreve
Amy Christensen an investor from NewsSpring Capital said she came to the event to create new relationships with companies at their earliest stages of development and to find out about the up and coming trends in the industry while finding out about new startups.
“I think for us it’s just really interesting for us to see what people are doing and I think the best part of what I get to do as an investor is to see all the kinds of different companies people are creating,” Christenson said. “For us it’s been interesting to hear a little bit more about data analytics. It’s definitely a trend that we’ve been seeing particularly round the healthcare space and we expect that data analytics is going to be a sort of really booming trend.”
David Freschman, a Managing Principal of Innovation Capital Advisors, LLC (ICA) and founder of Early Stage East said that the Early Stage East was a compelling space for the investors and startups that participated in the event because they had the opportunity to raise crucial capital for their companies and he said that he enjoyed having an international presence at the event with companies from places like the Caribbean and Europe after hosting it for 15 years.
David Freschman, a Managing Principal of Innovation Capital Advisors, LLC (ICA) and founder of Early Stage East, CEO of FashInvest
“I think the event reflecting upon 15 years of doing it this was a warm, effective, productive event and people enjoyed it,” he said. “I host it every year so what I gain is really three things: one is gaining new relationships with co-investors and other professionals within the venture community, two is enhancing the relationships that exist,” he said. “The second item is obviously meeting with new companies that I might not have gotten to know outside of this event- it’s a great way to get to know their business or operations, how they think as we trained them for this event and the third thing is [that] I really got a lot of sense of how this community is continuing to improve and embrace this early stage venture community.”
Meredith Robinson of the LIM College MBA Program came to the event as part of Freschman’s class to learn more about how companies pitch to investors and gain capital.
“ I learned about how to give all our business proposals in a two minute pitch and ways to gather investment for your company and funding which is something I knew nothing about before now,” Robinson said. “I want to have my own clothing line but I want it to work as a business and be a strong contender in the market so I want to learn form the best business people in other fields and be able to apply that to my own.”
The end of the competition finished off with a friendly cocktail hour where people where eager to make connections and hopefully make connections strong enough to get money or a meeting with an investor to help grow their businesses.
Freschman said he enjoyed watching all of the businesses present but would not choose a favorite out of the group of startups.
“Because I host, I have to remain neutral,” he said. “I thought they were all good.”
By Ashley Paintsil