Entrepreneurs discuss fundraising for startup companies at Toppel

The Toppel Career Center hosted three financiers from Miami to discuss the process of fundraising and what it takes to raise money for a startup on Tuesday.

The big-time investors included Jason Shuman, a recent graduate of the University of Miami, Bob Williamson, the treasurer of private investing group New World Angels and Jack Karabees, an investor with the Miami Innovation Fund.

Shuman said he kept busy while studying at UM by launching a casual footwear company called Category Five, which developed a presence in 10 states and earned a six-figure cumulative revenue. He graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship and Marketing in 2013. In the discussion, he emphasized the importance of preparedness when he was pitching an idea to his investment group, Corigin Ventures.

“We want to know that you understand your business,” Shuman said. “I want to be able to see if I can put you off your game or get you off script.”

Williamson, treasurer of New World Angels, discussed the importance of networking and relationships in venture capitalism, where a mutual friend can get entrepreneurs in touch with investors.

“The introduction is terribly important,” Williamson said. “Looking back at the deals we’ve done, they all had some sort of sponsorship [from an entrepreneur we know, a fellow investor, etc.] in the last three or four years.”

“I would say 95 percent of my meetings are done via introduction,” Shuman said.

The third panelist, Jack Karabees, an investor with Miami Innovation Fund, talked about the lengthy fundraising process.

“You’re going to make 50 to 100 presentations to qualified investors … That’s going to take a year, year and a half,” he said. “If you’ve made your first presentation last week, you’re 15 months away from a wire, assuming everything goes flawless in the next 15 months.”

Before closing, Shuman discussed what he looks for in a pitch by an entrepreneur seeking an investment.

“Why you? What’s the advantage that you specifically have over the next person that’s coming in and what’s the secret sauce behind the business?” he said.

The three financiers encouraged young entrepreneurs to reach out to investment groups and seek to establish a firm grounding from which their businesses can take off.

Featured image courtesy Pixabay user stevepb