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Opportunities Abound at UCSB’s Clean Business Investment Summit

Fifth annual event, featuring presentations and discussions, connects entrepreneurs seeking funding with potential investors

Entrepreneurs in search of funding were connected with investors who could be interested in distributing some capital Thursday during the fifth annual Clean Business Investment Summit at UC Santa Barbara.

How to best realize those and similar connections was a main focus of the California Coast Venture Forum conference, which boasts a record of introducing more than 575 start-up and growth companies to investors, who have given more than $110,000,000 as a result.

Hundreds from across the state gathered in the university’s Corwin Pavilion for the summit featuring 14 presentations from businesses, four others from local colleges and high schools, and numerous investor roundtable discussions and panels.

Click here for a list of all presenters.

Organizers kicked off the day by happily announcing that three times as many investors were present this year than in 2012.

Before jumping into the first panel, attendees heard an opening keynote address from Ben Lee, director of business development at Circle Up, a company founded in 2011 that acts as a sort of intermediary to connect consumer businesses with the right investors.

Lee focused his remarks on the value and significance of crowd funding, which refers to the process of collecting small individual start-up donations to accomplish a larger goal, typically through the Internet.

“It’s a pretty big umbrella,” he said. “Kickstarter is a more popular one. It allows you to reach out to the general public. (But) it’s a very slow process.”

Lee joined three other seasoned investors-slash-entrepreneurs in the ensuing panel, which delved into the best advice for those seeking some start-up cash and allowed time for more specific questions from paying attendees.

William Klehm III, CEO of Texas-based Fallbrook Technologies, centered comments on matching the needs of an investor with those of the would-be entrepreneur.

“One of my biggest pieces of advice is don’t take money from the wrong people,” Klehm said. “All the money everyone in this room needs is available, and it’s available at the right price. Make sure that you clearly have your story and your ask nailed down.”

All panelists reiterated the fact that gathering funding for a new business takes time and plenty of effort spread out over several years.

While they’re waiting, entrepreneurs should be working on building their companies, and not worrying solely about funding, said Rafe Furst, senior vice president of Crowdfunder.

“You’re completely unfundable until you’re over-subscribed,” he said.

Brad Barnhorn, who founded Barnhorn Growth Advisors, said entrepreneurs should never show fear during presentations to potential investors but should radiate humility.

“When raising capital there are so many more avenues today,” Barnhorn said. “There are vast amounts of opportunities. Angel groups can be effective, but recognize they’re not a magic bullet. You’ve got to have the willingness to get a ‘no.’”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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