You would think after organizing 70 Entrepreneurs Roundtable events, Murat Aktihanoglu would be just mailing it in. In fact, the opposite is true. The roundtables constantly reinvigorate him. “Every event has new people attending and new companies presenting. Everything is fresh.”
What originally started as a group of entrepreneurs sitting around a table and talking shop has now evolved into events that combine networking, insights from an investor and five companies pitching to that investor. But this is not an elaborate affair by any stretch of the imagination. This is a free, no frills event with the only nod to technology being the microphone each speaker holds. The presentations are conversations; no slide shows or demos. With no props or diversions, the investor gets to a clear look at a company’s leaders.
The Roundtables create value for a variety of constituencies. For budding entrepreneurs, they get to experience a real pitch with investor feedback. (Murat noted that this is often the first event for a newbie entrepreneur.) For investors, they get to see new companies. And Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator sources a number of companies from these events.
The featured speaker/investor at ER70 was Brian Hirsch, Managing Partner at Tribeca Venture Partners. He spoke about his lifelong passion for business (“when my friends were reading comic books, I was reading all of my father’s business magazines”), and how that led him to where he is today. While Tribeca is geographically focused on companies in New York, their primary focus is on people who have the passion and commitment to radically disrupt the status quo.
After his talk, Hirsch heard pitches from the following companies:
Open Capital Exchange offers an efficient marketplace for small business financing. The lending market for this segment has been shrinking as banks are abandoning it. Those that remain offer unfriendly terms. OCX is addressing this pain point with its platform.
Polar Pals – Based in Norway, Polar Pals creates social impact games for kids. These games focus on education, social issues and cognitive skill development for six-to-ten year olds. Polar Pals plans to market their products to schools and individuals using a freemium model.
TrueFacet is a consignment marketplace. Its mission is to make shopping for jewelry and watches transparent. The major challenges facing jewelry shoppers are authentication (is this really what the seller says it is?) and pricing (is this a fair price?). TrueFacet offers independent verification, appraisal and valuation services that include its guarantee.
Try The World enables its customers to discover different countries through food. Using the “box” model, customers receive a package which contains samples of foods currently not available in the United States (but will be shortly), along with recipes, cultural information and historical background about the featured country.
Makeosity is a collaborative online community that connects tweens and teens (ages 10-18) to each other, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) enthusiasts, inventors and providers of e-learning courses that teach new skills, including coding, game development and electronics. Through the Makeosity marketplace, products created by community members are for sale and for purchase.
In addition to these five companies, two other businesses were selected from the audience to present. The selection criteria was revenue generation ($500k+).
CartoDB provides cloud-based data mapping and visualization services for businesses in a wide variety of industries including finance, education, government and real estate.
Intellect Media is an alternative online book publisher that is run by an 18 year-old.
And next month, it’ll be new all over again.