Wednesday, March 29 , 2017, 1:57 pm | Fair 67º



ONTRApalooza Draws Hundreds to Santa Barbara Lobero Theatre, Canary Hotel

ONTRAport's annual event features speakers, workshops talking about growth and getting a business funded

Zach Olson, founder & CEO of online bookkeeping service, shared some pointers on how to get a new business financed Thursday during the first of a two-day ONTRApalooza event.
Zach Olson, founder & CEO of online bookkeeping service, shared some pointers on how to get a new business financed Thursday during the first of a two-day ONTRApalooza event.      (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

The key to finding funding for a new business is being scrappy and persistent, coupled with a little cyber stalking of potential investors and knowing you business inside and out.

It also helps that there’s more venture funding available now than ever.

That was the message of a “Get Funded! New Models for Financing” session at the fourth annual ONTRApalooza business conference Thursday in Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre.

The two-day festivities, which continue Friday, were also hosted at Canary Hotel.

Zach Olson, founder and CEO of an online bookkeeping service for entrepreneurs called, shared some insight into how his own business got off the ground and how he happened into the accounting field after opening his first business, a skateboard shop.

“This is one of those topics you’re not taught in business school,” Olson said.

His audience was filled with some of the 400 attendees of the event put on by Santa Barbara-based ONTRAport, which offers small to mid-sized businesses automated software services.

Olson started with his wife, quickly learning the value of accepting capital funding even when you don’t need it.

“You will,” he said. “You always need more than you think. It goes fast.”

In order to find those investors, the serial entrepreneur from Utah said small business owners have to seek out introductions through work contacts they already know.

That’s where the online research ahead of time comes in, along with coming up with your own pitch because no one should be able to sell your idea like you, Olson said.

“Do you homework,” he said. “Don’t lose that hunger. Don’t lose that drive. Be humble. Don’t use someone’s name without asking.”

Following up with connections is also critical, Olson said.

He reassured attendees there’s more money than ever out there but warned against asking for too little seed money to start, since slightly less than 10 percent of startups proceed into the next Series A funding stage.

“Now is the best time to be a founder,” Olson said. “Always look ahead. Also think about who you’re taking (money) from.”

The journey to funding can be slow and long, he said, but keeping on mission and taking the lonelier entrepreneur road could pay back big dividends.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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