San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

by SEAN BATURA

Local private and public sector leaders are hoping to match entrepreneurs with investors at a funding forum on Feb. 7.

Ten entrepreneurs, or start-ups, will each have 10 minutes to pitch their business proposals to investors at the forum. Some start-ups will have followup meetings with investors and a few may receive funding.

Amy Madison, president and CEO of the Greater San Marcos Partnership, said three entrepreneurs who have signed-up for the funding forum so far are from or based in San Marcos. GSMP invited Texas Entrepreneur Networks to organize the funding forum and prep participating entrepreneurs and investors, whose identities are being kept secret until the event in order to avoid premature contact between them.

“I would say we’ll have a really good representation of different industry-related products and services that will be explored,” Madison said of the forum. “I would also say that we really are beginning to hear, too, from the local community now, from the folks that are interested in investing. With this first (funding forum), we hope to have at least 50 percent of our entrepreneurs and 50 percent of our investors from the San Marcos area, and we think that will grow over time (with more funding forums).”

The Feb. 7 funding forum is scheduled to take place at 1340 Wonder World Drive, Suite 108, in San Marcos, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., though the event may be moved if many attendees reserve seats. The event will be free and open to non-participants, though they must reserve seats by calling GSMP Investment Relations Coordinator Trey W. Fisher at (512) 393-3400.

Entrepreneurs who wish to participate in the funding forum may submit business proposals here. Start-ups whose proposals are chosen must each pay a $250 fee to pitch at the funding forum. There is no fee for participating investors. Investors who wish to participate in the forum may visit Austin Angel Network’s website or call TEN Director Hall. T. Martin at (512) 656-9487. Martin directs both Austin Angel Network and TEN.

As of Jan. 25, five investors and seven start-ups asked to participate in the event.

Martin said five of 10 start-ups at funding forums usually receive private followup meetings with investors, and two generally receive funding.

“Anybody who usually gets a check (gets it) after four to six months of doing due diligence,” Martin said. “So it’s not immediate by any means.”

Proprietary or other confidential information is generally not disclosed during the funding forums, but may be during followup meetings.

Martin said the start-ups’ $250 registration fee covers the cost of the event and TEN does not take a portion of the returns on investments or charge other fees. He said TEN is mostly funded through its consulting and investment banking-related services.

Though Feb. 7 will be the first funding forum in San Marcos hosted by GSMP, the organization has been in contact with TEN and two similar “angel groups” — Central Texas Angel Network and MicroVentures — for about a year, and hopes to host periodic funding forums with them.

“What we hope to do is to provide some training for the community’s entrepreneurs and investors through Hall’s program, and other programs as well that we want to explore,” Madison said. “Giving (entrepreneurs) some training on how to do a pitch, so to speak, and what investors need to look for. Getting both in a position to be able to act confidently is where we want to be in this community. So with additional training in the future, we hope to see that grow. And we really see San Marcos as a hotbed for entrepreneurship. We have a lot of students that really don’t want to leave and want to start new businesses…And there’s a lot of research in the area through Texas State and some of the new programming they have out there — the new doctorate program, and especially with the incubator (STAR Park). So I really feel that this is going to be a great service for the community.”

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