With that in mind, the NorthFront Entrepreneur Alliance hosted a “crowd pitch” event where five companies had the chance to pitch their business model.
Their audience included other fledgling business owners, as well as “angel” investors who are also willing to serve as mentors, said Rob Kunz. He is co-founder and co-managing partner of BoomStartup.
That is a “mentorship driven entrepreneurship program, a new way for businesses to start in Utah,” Kunz explained.
“A problem we’re trying to fix is that entrepreneurs set up companies but usually don’t have a lot of experience. We help entrepreneurs start up companies, provide mentorship. We take away all the challenges an entrepreneur goes through when they start a company,” he said.
There is a field of 35 to 40 mentors who have 10 to 30 years experience as business owners, who have “been there, done that,” as far as working in the trenches to get their businesses going.
Now, they’re angel investors looking to put some funding into firms they believe have a viable idea and good chance of succeeding.
“We are accepting applications from all across the state, even from outside of Utah, if they’re willing to relocate here,” Kunz said.
BoomStartup has established “environments for success” for startup companies at the Miller Innovation Center in Sandy and Canyon Park Technologies in Orem.
“We really create an environment for success, give them office space for free, phone, software, free legal consultation, get all of that done so they’re formed under the right organization,” he said.
Companies that are accepted into the program receive a part-time CEO who works with them over the summer, making it possible for new firms to “really accelerate” their plans.
Ten companies are selected from the couple hundred applicants, and receive this support over the summer.
“We validated their business model, and in the second month they built their products, and the third month helped them get their investor pitch done,” Kunz said of last year’s effort.
“We gave them enough funding to last three to five months, but really set them up for August when they graduate,” he said.
At that point, top investors from the East Coast, Silicon Valley, and in between, are invited to a program where those 10 companies pitch their ideas and hopefully obtain funding.
“That’s one problem. How do you get the next funding?” Kunz said faces many fledgling entrepreneurs. “It takes so much time to go to these next angel groups, bring all of them together.”
Last year, a gathering in Park City brought investors together, with time for them to receive a “snapshot” of what firms are doing and then follow up with an investigation, he recalled.
“It makes the whole process much more efficient and successful,” Kunz said.
BoomStartup is Utah’s version of a movement that has been developing for the past four to five years across the country.
“This is a way to help them, get financing and companies launched, to build a sustainable business rather than to be among the 70 to 80 percent of companies which fail within two years,” he added.