It’s been a while since my last post. Lots to report but notably the Fall 2014 Business Concept Competition is rounding into shape. First round entries, in the form of one-two page abstracts, are due Thursday October 30. The Finals are slated for Thursday November 13, with the winner automatically qualifying for the second annual Future Four in the springtime. Rules and an abstract submission guideline are available at the Center website.
This long delayed post is also a great chance to announce that soon after Thanksgiving, the Center will be hosting a round of presentations for funding through our Accelerator Fund. For those of you unfamiliar with the Fund, it is a seed funding mechanism for students to help get their business off the ground. Chico State is one of the few universities in the country with ample money available for undergraduates.
The biannual Business Concept Competition, of course, is the Center’s signature event. Past winners have included Upper Park Designs, Bizness Apps and last year’s two winners: Soul id and Outdoor Ally (website coming soon). Each of these businesses later received funding through the Accelerator Fund. You could be next! Go here for the Accelerator Fund Application.
Last, a final word on seed funding from Sam Altman, who is the president of Y Combinator, one of the world’s leading incubators. Altman has a fascinating take on the initial seed round of funding; here are some excerpts from a recent blog post.
For all of the really good seed investments I’ve made, other investors I respected thought they were bad ideas. Stripe started before it was cool for very young founders to take on very established industries, and the prevailing thoughts from people I asked about were that it was never going to work (the initial plan was to be a bank) because Patrick knew nothing about the industry. Teespring got passed on by most investors, saying “It’s just a t-shirt company.”
Right before I invested in Zenefits, a prominent investor told me I didn’t understand the health insurance market at all and that the company was unlikely to survive another 3 months. When I made this investment, the company was worried about imminently running out of cash. I almost got talked out of investing by the other investor.
Great companies often look like bad ideas at the beginning—at a minimum, if it looks great, the seed round is likely to be overpriced, and there are likely to be a lot of other people starting similar companies. But even when I attempt to adjust for price, the hot-round investments still have underperformed.
This is NOT to imply I think you should come to the CSUC Accelerator Fund with a bad idea, but rather that you take the risk of at least trying out your idea -- good, bad, ugly or just plain weird -- in the crucible of the Business Concept Competition. Who knows, it could turn out to be a bad idea like these successful Y Combinator graduates: Reddit, Airbnb and Dropbox.