Fred Beste: Show Me Keys

Angel John Ason: 10 Commandments

Doing Business in NJ

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Dan Conley: Venture Catalyst

You can’t win in the pros if you have bush league


on your team, says Dan Conley. Conley calls himself a


catalyst." As head of the Somerset-based Silicon Garden Angels

+ Investors (732-873-1955, E-mail:, he works with

entrepreneurial business owners to help acquire the most appropriate

form of capital, debt, or equity at a cost and structure fitting their

overall goals and philosophy. Part of his success as a catalyst is

screening-in deals and screening-out those that still need weeding

and tending in the garden.

Find your "early stage" money by hiring professional help

— or go it alone. But whatever, you do, avoid these 10 deadly

sins, advises Conley. Watch out that you don’t do the following:

1. Act desperate.

2. Be secretive or evasive. If you can’t admit you are

having trouble making payroll, don’t expect an angel to ante up.

3. Act casual. Getting someone to fork over thousands

of dollars is not to be treated lightly.

4. Show up ill-rehearsed. See above.

5. Overwhelm them with details. Be able to be able to

articulate the "big picture" now and be ready with the details


6. Shotgun out your package. Don’t appeal to everyone

at once.

7. Cold call an angel or venture capital firms. Most will

take calls only when referred by someone they trust.

8. Not risk enough to show you are serious.

9. Be a brainstorming dreamer.

10. Present yourself as a one-person band.

But Conley admits that "a lot of success in this business

is intuition." These rules can only be likened to an intuitive

sniff test that must be passed by an entrepreneur and his company

before Conley will take the person as a client. Often one can actually

smell success in a company, and these veritable corporate pheromones

are an unstated factor that attracts the capital one needs to grow.

As Conley says, you have to be "fundable as well as


Conley’s bottom line advice for entrepreneurs:"if you have a


mousetrap, and you know it, get to a venture catalyst as quickly as

possible." That is the only way to assure yourself the best


chance that your mousetrap is on the right track, and you don’t lose

precious time.

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Fred Beste: Show Me Keys

Fred Beste of Mid-Atlantic Venture Funds (610-865-6660) keynote

this year’s "Best of the Best" meeting of the New Jersey


Network Wednesday, January 5, at the Doral Forrestal


Beste has his own set of rules: the 12 "show me keys" to


seed stage capital:

1.) Somebody who can sell. Preferably the CEO. The CEO

is promoting the company so funding and talent are drawn to it. He

or she is the most important spokesperson for the company so you need

a leader to bring the company to the next level.

2.) A bottoms-up sales projection. None of this pie in

the sky based solely on industry estimates from a consulting company.

3.) An "unfair" advantage.

4.) Some "team skin" in the game. Don’t ask a

VC for money if you and your people haven’t laid your own money on

the line.

5.) Some economic sacrifice, and low overhead. If the

CEO has a driver, watch out.

6.) Some passion, known as "fire in the belly."

If you are not consumed by your idea, you might better be off working

for someone else.

7.) Some team depth. Haven’t you been able to convince

someone else to join your team? If not, that’s a bad sign.

8.) Some reality in the financial projections. Business

plans are expected to have a certain element of "smoke and


but at least some of your predictions should be well grounded.

9.) Some valuation reasonableness. See number eight.

10.) Some respect for the competition.

11.) A segmented market target. You aren’t Proctor &


so don’t expect to conquer all the competition in your first year.

12.) Evidence of customer interest. One of the major


that entrepreneurs make is to assume that a "good idea" is

also a money-making idea. Too often, it’s not.

Top Of Page
Angel John Ason: 10 Commandments

John Ason, an "angel" or accredited private

investor active in NJEN, offers these rules for attracting seed stage

capital, for a first round of financing (E-mail:

1.) Thou shalt not abuse angel investors.

2.) Thou shalt not have excessive valuations.

3.) Thou shalt not covet other businesses.

4.) Thou shalt not have excessive business plans.

5.) Thou shalt not have equal founders shares.

6.) Thou shalt not assume being a monopoly.

7.) Thou shalt not assume competition does not exist.

8.) Thou shalt not focus on building an empty brand.

9.) Thou shalt not assume marketing cures all.

10.) Thou shalt not surprise angel investors.

Top Of Page
Doing Business in NJ

Now the entrepreneur, the attorney, and the bureaucrat

can work off the same page. The state’s 94-page book, "Doing


in New Jersey", can answer all your questions about state


and more. It is available for $5 by calling 973-353-5950.

Interlaced between the nuts and bolts rules is some good advice. A

chapter on procurement activities, for instance, has more than two

dozen names, addresses, and phone numbers of the agencies you might

need to contact, everything from bonding agencies to agencies that

issue bidding lists. Qualifying as a government contractor still seems

like an onerous task, but at least what you would have to do is all

set out for you.

The chapter on regulations for starting a new business has a sample

business plan outline and lists of "Smart Risks" and



Among the smart risks: Assess your company’s credit policy


Realize that some customers won’t pay on time and some won’t pay at

all. Hire people who have different skills, abilities, and


from you.

Foolish risks: Spend your working capital down to the

last dollar, expecting that people will pay you in time for you to

cover your expenses. Hire people who share your background and


Hire a friend’s friend or hire solely on the recommendation of another


Among the more difficult decisions an entrepreneur must make

is how to form the business — as a sole proprietorship, a


a corporation, or a limited liability company. This book sets for

the advantages and disadvantages for each.

Implicit throughout this book is that New Jersey is a good place

to do business, and with this information the state is certainly an

easier place to be an entrepreneur.

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