Entrepreneurs sought for ‘speed dating’ venture summit

More than 50 companies and 25 investor groups will take part in a first-of-its-kind venture capital program in New Hampshire.

From 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, at the Radisson Hotel Manchester-Center of New Hampshire, Speed Venture Summit 2008 will bring together companies of all sizes and sectors with angel investors, venture capital firms and private investors in a “speed dating” type of format.

Hollis McGuire, director of the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center for Manchester and Nashua, said that, although there have been similar venture-pairing programs, “this one is different.”

“This one will allow entrepreneurs to see up to six investor groups,” said McGuire, a founding member of Northeast Angels, an angel investment group located in southern New Hampshire.

At Speed Venture Summit — hosted by the New Hampshire High Technology Council and the New Hampshire SBDC — entrepreneurs will have 10 minutes with potential investors to tout their companies. A five-minute break will separate the 10-minute sessions.

McGuire said the event will represent the “full spectrum” of investments and investors, “from seed to growth.”

Certainly start-up firms are welcome, said McGuire, but “we also want older businesses looking to grow in a new direction, not just gazelles,” she said, describing rock star companies with sky rocketing growth. Companies that are self-funded but are considering outside financing are also encouraged to apply.

And the summit isn’t just for businesses developing cutting-edge technology.

“The businesses range from high-tech to low-tech,” she said.

Presenting companies must, however, be an actual operating business. Companies interested in pitching to investors must apply by Oct. 3 to be considered.

A committee will select the companies best suited to participating investors, which will then be contacted to register for the summit.

“We get information from the investors on what type of company they’re looking for, what size of investment, what stage,” she said.

In this way, the investors also benefit by seeing just the companies they are interested in, and “the investor gets to know 12 new businesses right away,” said McGuire.

While the “speed” portion of the event is open to only accredited investors and registered businesses, intermediary investment firms, such as investment brokers, and the public are invited to the networking reception, which will run from 5 to 7 p.m.

The highlight of the reception will be the “pitch-off,” where some of the event’s most exciting companies will be invited to give their presentations.

“Part of my goal and part of this event is to give entrepreneurs the tools to move toward success,” said McGuire. “From an investor’s standpoint, I want to bring new things to their attention.”

Cost for companies presenting at Speed Venture Summit is $100. The event is free to investors. There is a $40-per-person admission to the networking reception.

For more information, visit ww.speedventuresummit.org.

Cindy Kibbe can be reached at ckibbe@nhbr.com