Between incubators such as YC and others, hustling for intros, and Angel List, there's no reason ever to pay to pitch investors.
The ones charging $1,000-$8,000 are just robbing Peter to pay Paul. The more people they invite to pitch, the more money they make, a portion of which they will "invest" in the "winner."
These people are leeches leaches and need to be called out as such.
I'm really not sure why entrepreneurs who I'd suspect believe in free markets need to be coddled and "protected" from pay-to-pitch programs which at the end of the day are just another business - some good and some bad.
Just because you're a struggling entrepreneur doesn't mean other people shouldn't charge you or you're entitled to anything. At the end of the day, it is the entrepreneurs' choice. If you don't have the money or if the program doesn't seem legit, don't pay. And find another way to reach investors. If spending $50 or $100 gets you a credible chance at $500k of seed funding and helps accelerate your path to getting that money or getting feedback, that seems fair.
Some pay to pitch programs may add value. And some may not. If an entrepreneur learns that the hard way, so be it. Nobody ever said being an entrepreneur would be easy.
"entrepreneur learns that the hard way, so be it."
That attitude is like saying children should learn to look both way before crossing the street the hard way...by getting hit by a bus!
The worse part isn't that it preys on startups, it's that it prays on startups and new entrepreneurs that aren't plugged into the HN/SV scene (I was looking at angel groups in TX).
I don't think that a nominal fee (~$10 - $20) is necessarily a bad thing (but really, why bother?), but anything on the order of $100 or more is too much for a startup to be spending on that type of thing- a definite red flag. What investor would want to invest in a startup that spends all of its money looking for financing rather than creating a great product/service?
Running good events is very time consuming, more than people often realize. And yet my landlord continues to "prey on" me by demanding that I pay rent. Somehow, he fails to see comrade Calacanis' logic that everything should be free...
Graham Lawlor - Ultra Light Startups
That said, charging enough to cover the cost of pizza and what-not, that seems reasonable. But any outfits that are charging more than a nominal fee are highly questionable to me.
The culture of feedback and mentorship in the valley is what makes entrepreneurship flourish here, decade after decade.
I met with the folks organizing Band of Angels in the valley and after multiple meetings and phone-calls they told me that we had been selected to present at their event. It was free to pitch apparently but dinner was $80.
I was tempted to turn down dinner and offer to bring my subway sandwich.
I didn't end up going... for all the reasons patio11 points out.
On the other hand, practice of not disclosing fees and charging in the range of $1.000 - $8.000 definitely look shady.
Just my .05
If someone offered me it for $25 - I would pass it, since I have no place to put it nor I have time to watch it.
Similar could be observed in .99 games at any app stores. While 99 cents is really close to 0 cents for most US persons, still .99 games will have much less downloads. But ones who downloaded had much bigger motivation to actually play it and not just check it out.
Most of things should have associated costs. At least nominal. In case of such events it is good for both pitchers and for public listening to them. It is different topic if costs should be in dollars or some sort of efforts tho..
IMHO, as usual :)
>If someone offered me it for $25 - I would pass it, since I have no place to put it nor I have time to watch it.
Growing up, I hunted down free and really cheap computer hardware. I've always had a sizable stash of equipment that I'd play with, learn about, and eventually use to run services. As I've grown older, the initial purchase price has become less important, and the storage cost has become more important; my current workshop/office is maybe 200-300sqft, and it's got two people and a lot of hardware in it.
The thing is, here the cost is time, not storage space; and I think people learn the 'time is valuable' lesson sooner. But yeah, you would be keeping out 12 year old me, which is fine. Personally, I would think that the majority of people at these events would be past that point. dono.
You'd certainly need to apply another level of filtering; obviously you don't want to listen to a pitch from every joker with fifty bucks, the question then would be how much easier would that filtering process be if you first filter out all the 12 year old lsc types for whom the fifty bucks is a big opportunity cost. Personally, I don't think it would save you much time, but I could be wrong.
Judging solely on all rage I see about costs associated with giving a speech at such events, I can see how it might filter non serious people. I am not saying that $50 or $8000 is right/wrong. I am just saying - it is filter. Even small bump in requirements tends to filter out non serious people.
Here is simple way I look at it - if you can remove 5% of total noobs and get $1000 to spend more on marketing materials, why you shouldn't do it?
depends entirely on how many good prospects also get removed. A grand in marketing materials is not a big deal if you have enough money to invest.
If it removes more unsuitable than suitable candidates, then it's a good deal; I'm just not convinced that is what happens. I think you get some adverse selection- The sort of people you want to invest in are going to be focusing on their business rather than focusing on getting investment, so I suspect you'd get vastly better results making your event 'invite only'
Sundance Film festival charges $75 to submit a feature length film for consideration. I've come across many film festivals, writing contests, art shows and the like that charge you to "pitch your work". People are always trying to pick on the starving artist eh? (Callback to PG's Hackers and Painters).
[Edited to add: But if anyone is charging more than a nominal fee, run away!]
$330 early bird special... :(
That and "entrepreneur networking" events that are full of service companies or software shops trying to drum up business. Lame.
If you can't hustle, find someone you know in common with a VC, and convince them to make an intro, you might not have what it takes to launch a startup. (Hint: It's all hustle).
Get on LinkedIn, use Meeteor.com, and start uncovering the relationships that can help you. It's not that hard, it just takes effort.
Anyone who says otherwise generally benefits from the result.
LOL it's predatory? What exactly do they think the VCs' business is?