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An excellent overview of the kinds of funding available for entrepreneurs (startup funding). But this can be very misleading in a way: The “money available” and amounts invested absolutely do not reflect the likelihood of attracting funding from each source – nor do the amounts indicate how effective the funding source is towards the success of the startup.

Startup Funding Infographic

 

As an investor, advisor and mentor to entrepreneurs and new ventures, I get to hear a lot of pitches – whether as a judge in a competition, in a boardroom, classroom or a face-to-face pitch. After a while, they all start to sound alike. In fact, when investors get together, they lament (or even parody) how all the pitches sound alike. To be fair, as an entrepreneur, I used to lament with other entrepreneurs on how predictable venture capitalists can be in their responses.

Today, giving more evidence that I apparently have way too much time on my hands – I created this “Pitch Bingo” game for investors and advisors.   The next time you are listening to entrepreneur pitches at an event, click on the Entrepreneur-BS Bingo Game link, and you will get a BS-Bingo card (everyone’s card has a different random combination of entrepreneurship buzzwords).   Cross off the word when you hear it.

 

Entrepreneur-BS Bingo Game CJs Entrepreneur-BS-Bingo

CJ’s Entrepreneur Pitch Bingo

 

The first person who completes a BINGO with a row or column must shout out Zuckerberg!
And Tweet to #CJ-BS-BINGO.

And just to be fair, I’ve also created one called Investor-BS Bingo!   Now entrepreneurs can keep track of the predictable jargon investors mindlessly toss out during pitch meetings.   (notice the phrases “Term Sheet”  or “Yes” don’t appear – since they say it so rarely).

CJ’s Investor-BS Bingo

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It was a brilliant observation from Tim Huntley of An Entrepreneurial Life, based on an exchange with an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur is stuck in some sort of circular-loop thinking preventing him and his team from making progress. In a rather rare display of self-awareness, the entrepreneur likens his dilemma to a concept taken from an obscure documentary called Waiting for Superman.   In this case:

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Getting time and attention from experienced advisors is a rite of passage for the first-time entrepreneur.
Free Advice

Entrepreneurial advisors provide everything from informed feedback, market validation and technical direction, to introductions that can lead to partnerships, investors and customers.

Advisors are often former serial entrepreneurs themselves with well-earned battle scars from risking, failing and succeeding enough times to have sharp
insights into the venture building process. They have a special empathy for the struggling entrepreneur. There’s satisfaction in helping an up-and-coming entrepreneur avoid the same mistakes, and giving them insights that will help accelerate their progress.

Not all advisors have the right experience, and it is very hard for the entrepreneur to know which advisors can truly help their company.  It takes many first dates to find those perfect matches. But advisors kiss a lot of frogs too: Frogs, hunchbacks, maniacs, dreamers, neurotics – and I suspect a few psychotics. Entrepreneurs come in all sizes and for advisors it can be exhausting to try to help them all – particularly those entrepreneurs who don’t really want to be helped, or who are not ready for outside advice.

So, for the entrepreneur about to go seeking advice from advisors, here’s some blunt, very blunt, advice:

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Brilliant and spot-on, as usual, from Scott Adams’ Dilbert:
 
Dilbert.com

 

 
Wizard-of-Oz-w24Most entrepreneurs end up enduring  the “Wizard of Oz Syndrome” dozens of times before they develop their own sense of wisdom – or cynicism born from experience.

The Wizard of Oz Syndrome goes something like this:

Entrepreneur is standing before Big Influential Investor or fill-in-the-blank [Big Influential Customer, Big Potential Partner, or Big Venture Capitalist or Angel Investor].   The feeling is like proverbially standing before “The Great and Powerful Oz”:

Your very future depends on having him granting a wish that only he can make happen.

But there is a catch.  The Great and Powerful Oz wants proof that you are worthy.  You have to jump through a hoop.  He commands you to go and perform some extraordinary feat:  “Bring me the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West.”

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Last week I published an article, written with Crowdfund Insider director and editor Charles Luzar on the subject of fraud in crowdfunding:  Crowdfunding Fraud: How Big is the Threat? 

Screen-Shot-2013-07-11-at-9.09.06-AM-300x172We researched and gathered data from hundreds of crowdfunding campaigns to get a sense of the scope of fraud and potential fraud.  Our specific purpose was not to come to any conclusions, but to get an initial state of the fraud landscape, and to solicit a more complete set of fraud cases – for a subsequent academic study of the data.   We want to know, apart from the hype and headlines, the true rate and potential for crowdfunding fraud – particularly since the specter of fraud is one of the primary drivers of the debated laws and regulations surrounding investment crowdfunding.

Give it a read.  And if you know of a case of fraud – no matter how serious, obscure or questionable – please use the link below to submit it to us for our study.

 

Fraud in Crowdfunding

As crowdfunding becomes mainstream, the potential for fraud will inevitably increase. It seems that each new day is accompanied by a scathing article or op-ed warning that we need to protect the general public from the impending onslaught of boiler room con-artists. Indeed, the issue of fraud protection has transformed the process of legalizing equity crowdfunding into a grueling, complex and contentious three-year process – as regulators, industry stakeholders and special interests wrangled over new rules meant to protect investors from fraud.

In this initial study, we came up with a set of fraud categories, unique to crowdfunding:

Gray Areas: A Taxonomy of Crowdfunding Fraud

  • Preempted Fraud
  • Stillborn Fraud
  • Attempted Fraud
  • Perceived Fraud
  • Backer fraud
  • Backer-Creator Fraud
  • Broker/Portal Fraud

read the full article …

Click here to submit a case of crowdfunding fraud

With your help, we may be able to offer some valuable insights on crowdfunding fraud – based not on conjecture, but on on actual cases and data; insights that can help guide and shape the next generation of crowdfunding regulations and best practices.

For the full article – go to Crowdfund Insider -  Crowdfunding Fraud: How Big is the Threat?