By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group
Members of the National Association of Black Journalists have had ongoing conversations about creating – and funding – their entrepreneurial dreams. UNITY received a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation in April to implement a New U: News Entrepreneurs Working through UNITY (New U) project. The project helped support the creative ideas of participating journalists of color through a series of two-day “boot camps” at each of the four summer 2010 UNITY alliance partners’ conventions. Our own Doug Mitchell, head of NABJ’s Media Institute, was one of the presenters at the events. A story about the program was included in NABJ Convention News, here.
One of the challenges faced by journalists of color is how to get the money needed to fund their entrepreneurial projects. One of my Twitter followers is Stratford, Conn.-based Funding Post, which holds conferences across the country that matches entrepreneurs with angel investors and venture capitalists. Funding Post Director Joe Rubin created the company after the dot-com bubble burst in 2000.
“I am an entrepreneur. I decided to put together a platform that was easy to use for investors and entrepreneurs to meet online and offline at events,” says Rubin. “I’ve put together a really good organization of conference in 19 cities that educates entrepreneurs and introduces them to venture capitalists and angel investors.”
Funding Post conferences are an opportunity to learn about the current landscape directly from investors looking for deals, says Rubin. “Attendees can also network with entrepreneurs and hear their success and war stories,” he says. “They can also shake hands with venture capitalists and angel investors while having cocktails.”
Rubin can’t give a dollar amount on how much investor capital is available. “But I know there’s a lot of captain out there. And in order to get some of that capital, entrepreneurs need to set themselves apart from others out there,” he advises. “There are tons of entrepreneurs vying for those investment dollars and they must do what they can to set themselves apart.”
Entrepreneurs need the following, says Rubin: a business that doesn’t need large amounts of capital; an amazing team; and a great personality to sell the business to potential customers and potential inventors. When asked about journalism-related entrepreneurial ventures, Rubin notes that investors are currently looking at content aggregators. “Consider a business where you can also sell something,” he advises.
Funding Post typically holds conferences every three weeks or so, says Rubin. The next conferences are in Silicon Valley and Sedona, Ariz., he adds. And the conferences attract big names in the investment community, including DFJ Gotham Ventures, Best Buy Ventures (managed by Fuse Capital), General Mills Ventures and Siemens Venture Capital.
Next: check out my interview later this week with Terry Hicks, vice president of the investment group Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Pennsylvania and a founder of the Minority Angel Investor Network.