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The Arizona Republic: Phoenix event connects startups to investors

We are so excited that two of our alumni (AgriscapingEpifinder) presented at Funding Post Phoenix, and so many more attended. Check out this awesome article featuring our CEO Courtney Klein!

The next Funding Post Phoenix Event will be in the Fall.

See the original article here. 

More than 40 startups from across the Southwest were on display Thursday at Grand Canyon University at a roundtable presented by FundingPost.

Entrepreneurs had the chance to hear from guest speakers, network with fellow startup owners and pitch their ideas to a group of angel investors.

“They have an opportunity to share their vision in one minute, and what they can expect is an opportunity to talk to people that write checks and invest in companies,” said FundingPost regional director Scott Kelly.

This was the third FundingPost event in Phoenix. At the previous two installments, investors gave money to seven companies.

One of those startups was Crowd Mics, a smartphone app that connects with a room’s sound system and wireless router, eliminating the need for microphones.

Silicon Valley-based angel investor David Koehn initially gave the company $205,000, and just closed a $1 million investment this week.

Koehn, who attended Thursday’s event, said he looks for entrepreneurs with integrity, transparency, passion and a unique idea that he can market. He invests in five to seven companies a year.

“Somebody who is very clear that they don’t need me — they’d succeed without me — and I just want to hook my train to their jet,” he said.

Brunn Roysden, a former nuclear engineer and attorney, pitched the myType keyboard, which is a foldable keyboard that uses Bluetooth to connect with Apple and Android devices.

He’s made 6,000 units and sold 5,000 of them over the past 21/2 years, financially relying on himself and a Kickstarter campaign.

Although funding would be nice — he’s looking for about $500,000 — he mostly came to the event for information about how to better his company, because the Phoenix market is tough on tech entrepreneurs.

“If you go to Silicon Valley, you’re going to knock (on) four doors and have three projects,” he said. “Here, if you knock on three doors, three of them can’t even spell entrepreneur.”

Metro Phoenix can be a difficult place for entrepreneurs, said Courtney Klein, founder and CEO of Seed Spot. Her business serves as an incubator for startups by providing connections to mentors, talents, warehouse space and capital.

While investment usually comes in the later stages of a business, people in metro Phoenix aren’t necessarily interested in the high-risk, high-reward business of funding startups, she said.

“The investor community has been very resistant to embracing true early-stage startups,” she said. “I think in order for a vibrant startup community to thrive, we need risk-taking investors that are willing to invest in early-stage companies in Arizona.”

Klein said that without incubators, finding a “connective tissue” can be difficult for entrepreneurs. As a result, the startup community works together to provide for early-stage entrepreneurs.

She cited Co+Hoots co-working space, the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation at GateWay Community College, Arizona State University and Desert Angels in Tucson as some of the big players in the local startup community.

“So many entrepreneurs feel at the early stage that they have to know everything and, if they don’t, it’s a weakness,” she said. “I think that entrepreneurs that are most successful are the ones that ask for help and are really candid and really transparent about what they need.”

One success is Code Technology, a company that collects patient outcome data as a service for primarily orthopedic surgeons, said co-founder Breanna Cunningham.

Cunningham, who is a nurse by trade, had to learn the business side of the company on the job. But five years later, the business serves hospitals around the country.

“When I first started, the handshake that I had with my business partner was that we are going to leverage data to change health care for the better — that’s always been the vision,” she said.

Connecticut-based FundingPost is a nationwide network of entrepreneurial pitch conferences, Kelly said. They’ve held more than 300 events in 23 cities over the past 13 years.

Kelly expects Phoenix to hold a FundingPost event annually, with the next event coming in the fall.

Lauren McDanell

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