The question that people ask me, more often than any other, is “where can we find money for our deal?”. That’s a tough question to answer because it’s a moving target. Different investors like different deals and even if you have a deal that is interesting, it might not pass muster because it is structured badly – or the strategy to accomplish the goal just might be weak. In this game, some people figure it out while unfortunately, most do not.
The money people are very hard to find. It is a closed business, and most everything in this business happens by referral.
It is not by referral because we are trying to keep all the deals to ourselves; rather it is by referral because the money business is a tough business. It can be a dirty business and it can be a flaky business. Unfortunately, many times, investments are put into companies because investors are duped by con-artists who pretend to be entrepreneurs. Other times, the entrepreneurs just lack the skills to pull off a real success.
Do you see why it’s a business that is done by referral?
But, every once in a while, I’ve agreed to introduce you to some of my friends, and today my friend Jerry Knotts has agreed to allow me to introduce him to you. And if you would like to contact Jerry, he will consider it a referral from me.
Jerry is a long-time entrepreneur and entrepreneur advocate. Beginning his career in the Air Force, after earning an Electrical Engineering degree at Penn State, Jerry spent 24 years in the Air Force, first as a combat pilot, flying missions all over the world, and later building airplanes. He retired from the Air Force to go into a position where he oversaw all of the activity of private contractors who built transmissions for the Air Force. That put him right in the middle of the plants for companies such as General Motors, General Dynamics, Lockheed, and E-Systems.
Jerry continued moving up the government ladder until finally he became responsible for overseeing all military contracts in the Washington, D.C. area. A few years later, Jerry left Washington and came to California. He took a job as Senior Vice President and General Manager of an early stage company called California Micro, which he helped build from nothing into $15 million a year in just a few years. With start up experience under his belt, he agreed to run the California Manufacturing Technology Center, which is a group that is designed to help small businesses that are in the manufacturing sector. He served as a mentor and worked with entrepreneurs, helping them to avoid the pitfalls that entrepreneurship is sure to throw at them.
Jerry’s experience as an entrepreneur has helped him to understand the needs of entrepreneurs. And helping to address these needs has become Jerry’s focus.
Jerry has also become tremendously involved in a variety of Southern California venture capital organizations, such as the Southern California Biotech Council (www.socalbio.org), which for ten years has been putting on conferences to help entrepreneurs raise capital. The next of those conferences is September 19, 2008. Jerry’s continuing goal for entrepreneurs is to submit business plans and to facilitate introductions to venture capitalists and other qualified investors.
Presently, however, Jerry holds his most coveted job. He is the President and CEO of the California Coast Venture Forum (www.ccvf.org). Early in that organization’s development, the founders identified the need to facilitate introductions of qualified technology companies to qualified investors. And, with the focus of a combat pilot, Jerry is focused on that mission.
So far, in ten years, the California Coast Venture Forum has facilitated $110M in funding from banks, venture capitalists, and angel investors. Jerry’s job and the job of the volunteers who help at the California Coast Venture Forum is to help make sure that the companies are ready. If the companies are ready, they will introduce them to appropriate funding sources, and unlike the venture clubs of the past, this outfit is looking for deals nationwide. The directive that a deal has to be within driving distance to be a deal has evaporated. Services such as “Go-To Meeting” and the widespread use of telephone conference calls have made broader geographic access available to everyone.
The California Coast Venture Forum services a variety of sectors, but they mostly focus on clean technology and clean business initiatives. If you have a business that qualifies for the type of funding that the California Coast Venture Forum provides, Jerry would be interested in talking with you. It is a rare person that I allow access to my readership, but I believe this information will be of great value to several of the people who read this column. If your company could benefit from working with Jerry, contact my office and we will facilitate an introduction.