You live, you learn, hopefully you don't make the same mistake twice …

About two years ago, we were “invited” to pitch our business and plans to a local VC event. This was good, we were in the hunt for capital, and getting in front of lots of VC’s isn’t a bad idea. Well the “invited” part is in scare quotes, we had to compete with our executive summary. Ok, so we made it past the initial “competition” (hmmm notice the scare quotes).
We had to prepare our slides, our talks and some documents. No problem, we had most of them done anyway. Had some tweaking to do, practice, get feedback.
Not an issue, right? No, really not.
But lets put this aside for a moment.

On TheFunded today, I read this article on seed funding meetups/competitions. You can’t see the comments unless you are subscribed, and you have to meet specific criteria to be accepted.
To get to the point on this, the question was whether or not paying to pitch, that is, paying a fee to be given the opportunity to present, was of value. The 6 comments as of this morning are a resounding and strong “no”. Many indicating that these are by definition a waste of your time, so if you are paying people to waste your time … rather they should be paying you for the value of your very limited time.
Ok, got it?
Now back to the MichiganGCS. That the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium. Which is an event hosted by the UM business school.
They invite people to “compete” (notice those scare quotes!) for slots. After which, if your executive summary filtered^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H”wins” (^H is an old ASCII sequence for back-space … read it as ‘erase the last character I typed’) you a spot, you have the honor of being invited to present.
That and the $295 you need to pay them, will get you a spot on the roster.
What I noticed when I presented was that we were so much window dressing. The presenting companies were largely ignored by the VCs, who met with each other. The audience for the presentations were largely the other companies themselves.
We live, we learned. Lots of things we won’t waste valuable time/energy/money on. This is one of them. While I like the MichiganGCS people, I had a distinct sense that something was not quite right … that the energy we poured into building a nice booth, and giving a presentation, was energy lost … wasted, as the real focus of the meeting was masked from the entrepreneurs.
Had been around several years ago, I would have had the wisdom of my peers to consider, and decide whether or not this was a worthwhile event.