For start-up companies seeking much-needed funding, the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS) not only gets them in front of several potential investors at one time, but it also provides educational support that will benefit the companies in the long run. Last year, Buycentives Co-founder David Goldschmidt received some valuable instruction before presenting his start-up to about fifty to sixty people gathered in one room at the MGCS. “The pitch coaching was beneficial for us to help kind of fine tune our investor pitch that we had been using,” said Goldschmidt. “It’s always good to get feedback and input. This was an audience we hadn’t presented to before, so knowing what their expectations were through the coaching helped develop a pitch or presentation that was really good for that particular audience.”
Goldschmidt says the biggest benefit of the MGCS was the opportunity to get on the radar of a number of investors. “In the Midwest and inMichiganin particular, it tends to be extremely difficult to identify and connect with potential funding sources,” he said. “So for us, MGCS was an opportunity to create a little buzz around Buycentives and expose us to investment sources, whether angel investors or venture capitalists, that we otherwise wouldn’t have access to.”
The goal of Buycentives is to help leading brands and auto companies spend their sale incentive money more efficiently by delivering a data-driven, individualized sales incentive to online shoppers in real time. “Our software enables a car company to take data and actually develop an incentive for each individual shopper and deliver that incentive directly to the shopper. And they would print it out and take it to a dealership,” explained Goldschmidt. The customer information is gathered from a variety of sources, such as an auto company’s existing database or from online forms filled out by car shoppers requesting price quotes over the Internet.
Goldschmidt says the process for being selected as a presenting company at the MGCS was very organized. Prior to the symposium, his company received regular communication about logistics, display space, informational materials for attendees, and more. Since last year’s symposium, Buycentives has conducted a pilot program with a major automaker and is talking with other car companies too. The firm has not yet secured the seed-stage investment capital it needs in order to grow.
“The investors we met through MGCS I think tended to not particularly be interested in software and IT, which is the space that we’re in,” Goldschmidt said. “That’s not a reflection on MGCS; it tends to be a Michigan thing in terms of the investment community here is definitely oriented towards life sciences, renewable energy, homeland security, battery technology, pharmaceuticals — those sorts of things.”
However, Goldschmidt says he made a lot of good contacts at the MGCS and still communicates with some of the investors he met. “There’s no question that’s been a great value for us. And some of those investors have even connected us with other potentially interested investors, as well,” he said. “In this way, the MGCS really helped — giving us an opportunity to get in front of a group of investors . . . and they provided feedback and connections and contacts.”