The Montreal-based online resource matches small-and medium-sized businesses with funding sources that include government grants, venture capital, private equity, bank loans and much more. It also offers consulting services for startups if they desire face-to-face assistance.
That offline component of being able to help entrepreneurs was what motivated CEO Mike Lee to bring Fundica on the road last year. In the process they booked a handful of entrepreneurs to pitch local funders at the events. It turned out to be quite a success, spreading the world about Fundica’s free online database, while giving startups the chance to get in front of potential investors.
“The Funding Road Show came about when there was a number of funders that said, ‘hey, we want to get closer to some of these entrepreneurs,’ and as well, there’s obviously lots of entrepreneurs who want to closer to them,” Lee told BetaKit. “This kind of demand that we saw in Fundica, we knew that there needed to be a more personal touch.”
Last year the Road Show hit Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. 30 entrepreneurs per city pitched venture capitalists or other funders for five minutes each, with a seven-minute question and answer period with networking breaks before and after the pitches.
This year Fundica has already secured nine cities, and more on the way. New stops include Waterloo, Victoria and Guelph. Each city will feature 20 pitchers and 8 funders. It’s an all-day event from 8:30 am to 7 pm.
The ten startups who pitch in the morning are generally those in the earlier stages of life while the afternoon pitches are reserved for more mature startups with at least $150,000 revenue in the last year.
Officially, the 2014 Funding Road Show’s motto is “to better educate entrepreneurs on funding opportunities as well as facilitate connections between funders and entrepreneurs.” The education side of thing points to the fact that entrepreneurs are very often “in the dark” about what funding opportunities are available for them, or which ones they should focus their time and energy on.
“There’s a bit of a learning curve involved in trying to identify the right source of funding, so what we’re trying to do with Fundica is really identify and shed light on the types of programs that are available,” said Lee. “And in the case of the funding roadshow, we’re highlighting a few of those programs and their funders, and really brining them together.”
Lee also pointed out that often entrepreneurs may assume that finding the right funding programs is easier than it actually is, no doubt fuelled by constant reports of more mature startups raising large amounts of money. Ideally events like the Funding Road Show will encourage more people to adopt pitching as more of a lifestyle than a one-time attempt to get money.
“You need to be pitching, you need to be selling yourself. Even these companies who get millions of dollars, they’re still in the pitching mode all the time,” said Lee.