The 2nd Annual Next Generation Entrepreneurship and Global Crowdfunding Forum will be held at the JW Marriott in Santa Monica next Friday, Nov. 15.
Victoria Silchenko – founder of Metropole Capital Group, creator and producer of the forum – talks about the event in the Q&A with The Mirror.
How have you arrived with the idea to create the Next Generation Entrepreneurship and Global Crowdfunding Forum?
Over the years of my advisory business and also while serving on the Board of LAVA (Los Angeles Venture Association), I’ve become increasingly convinced that most entrepreneurs felt to raise capital not due to their weak business models or inexperienced teams as professional investors usually suggest, but due to certain metrics espoused by the existing investment markets.
The truth is that venture capitalists and angel investors are looking for up to forty times return to make up for their prior loses. But how many businesses are capable to deliver such return? Not too many – and almost all of them are solely in high-tech.
So, if you are not in high-tech and, let’s say, you do not have a perfect exit strategy, but you are convinced that your product or services will be well perceived by the market or a local community and you have a clear vision of how to implement a strategy, how come you are being conceived as a failure? and how you can actually validate the idea?
Such “million dollar” questions needed an urgent resolution. The intimate gathering where we could see the whole panorama of what the funding options are, both traditional and non-traditional, and where everyone could talk openly and share their knowledge and lessons, sounded like a great idea. So once I define the goal - everything else usually falls into place.
You are an entrepreneur yourselves. Why do you think women-owned businesses have a difficult time to raise venture capital?
I would certainly not deny the existence of the notorious “boys’ club”, nevertheless I’ve been always gender agnostic and that’s why I am against neither “women-only” nor “men-only” groups in business.
There are studies revealing that a probability to acquire venture capital for women- owners is thirty per cent less comparing with of men.
But we should remember the important fact is that most women open their businesses outside of the high-tech realm, and focus on retail, social care, creative industries (such as marketing, publishing and fashion), or consulting, like myself.
These are the industries that are just not on the VC’s radar. So, it is not that VCs don’t like to back up women-entrepreneurs – they just fundamentally don’t like to deal with the industries we are at.
This is another reason why I’ve become an evangelist of crowdfunding. Crowdfunding can spread capital across much wilder scope of industries and guess what – to date over sixty percent of projects were crowdfunded by women.
You’ve become a well-know crowdfunding expert and speak at the Universities and business events. Can you briefly explain what crowdfunding is?
I can talk about crowdfunding for hours, but in short, crowdfunding is basically an online tool that gives you an opportunity to raise small amount of capital from a large pool of people aka crowd for your business or a project. In other words, you are looking to collect small infusions of capital online that, when being aggregated together produce a sum you are looking for.
Fundamentally, there are three main crowdfunding models which are operational in the market. The most popular is donation or reward based - think Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
There is an equity based model which in this country is so far available for the accredited investors only (AngelList or CircleUp for example). And the third one is peers-two-peers lending model - with Lending Club being a market leader.
The industry is still in its infant age but the growth, and most importantly the impact is truly remarkable.
Every time I learn about a crowdfunded cause (for example when an injured couple from Boston was able to raise from the crowd over $3 million in a week time), I feel I am witnessing a triumph of humanity over self-interest.
It is expected that there will be over $5.1 billion raised via crowdfunding platforms by the end of this year – an impressive jump from $2.7 billion in 2012. Interestingly enough, the most popular crowdfunded category are social causes.
That’s is another proof of why we need a new investment market place where people, not financial institutions, would decide what needs to be funded in the communities. I love the internet, but how many more new applications we need?
I’ve heard last year, which was your very first edition, the Forum has turned into a big success. You have a truly impressive list of testimonials from participants on your website, and I can clearly see the high caliber of attendees. What was your secret?
Los Angeles has enough business events with sometimes hundreds people pitching themselves to each other (thoughtfully called “speed networking”), and my first and only priority was quality.
I wanted to design high-end, high- quality, classy intimate event which would be based on the premise of impact and gathers the right people – business leaders who are at the forefront of the investment industry’s change and world-class entrepreneurs who have a power to spread their knowledge and experience to other entrepreneurs – sort of like a “hallo effect.”
I also made sure that we have representatives from all realms of the financial industry – VCs, angels, bankers and crowdfunders.
We really need to learn how to work together and how to increase a positive impact. That’s why our Forum’s motto – we connect, we learn, we act. I’ve been fortunate to receive an incredible support from my friends who turned to be fascinating speakers and I asked everyone – just share your knowledge, be sincere and be fun.
No self-promotional speeches or sleep-indulging presentations. I also aimed to be truly global and I was honored to have representatives from many countries including BRIC, Canada, United Kingdom, Poland, Germany and Argentina.
Last but not least – the event was highly interactive where everyone could jump into a discussion. Such an atmosphere has definitely set the right mood.
Why did you bring the Forum to California? Why Santa Monica, specifically?
Well, I am a proud resident of California for as far as I can remember and as Santa Monica is becoming a new hub of Silicon Beach, we though we had to be in Santa Monica.
We choose JW Marriott on Ocean Avenue and I am very thankful to the hotel staff that was a real pleasure to work with. I also thought that a chance to enjoy some sun and an ocean view in a middle of November should be an additional thrill for the attendees from out of the country.
Who are your partners?
I am fortunate to work with leading companies in town. Daily Brand Group is a leading innovative marketing agency with a global reach based in Santa Monica, Devon Blaine Group that has been a long-time PR leader and PR industry awards receiver, and Social Radius with one of their offices based in Santa Monica, a leading group in social media strategies.
I am also thrilled to have an incredible support from our sponsors: the Argentinean Consulate, Californian Lutheran University, Regus, InvestedIn, Silicon Valley Bank and HKTDC (Hong Kong Trade and Development Center)
This is the 2nd annual Forum – who will be your speakers this year?
I am thrilled to have David Seidler, an Oscar winning screen-writer of King Speech, who will be opening the Forum. I am also excited to have in my team another celebrity - my co-host Sandro Monetti, a BBC broadcaster, professional TV host, and now a film-maker.
And I am extremely thankful to bring together an extraordinary mix of speakers including Alon Goren, Founder at InvestedIn; David Carter, co-founder of Amplify, Adam Chapnick, Principal at Indiegogo; Jeff McCarthy, Managing Director at Lending Club, Sebastian Ortega, Founder and CEO of South Ventures (Argentina), Jonathan Medved, Founder at OurCrowd (Israel) and many more world-class founders and game changers.
In total we have over thirty speakers, a good half of them are investors themselves. This should be fun.
Who do you think will benefit the most from attending your event?
I believe if someone is looking how to “sell” his big idea, get his venture to the global level or have a creative project such as film or book and he is wondering what his financing options are, both “off-line” and on-line, our event is not to miss.
He will get the most comprehensive and up-to-date picture of what truly works and what doesn’t, will learn from VCs and angels how to actually become an “investment-ready” business and will meet crowdfunding champions who will share their stories on how they run their campaigns.
We will also have a special panel on the JOBS Act’s and new SEC rules for raising private capital – very important knowledge every entrepreneur must have.
What are the three most important things every participant shall expect from the event?
Invaluable practical knowledge about funding the business, outstanding connections in the investment and entrepreneurial communities and highly-interactive fun atmosphere.
How to register for your event?
Please go to our website www.metropoleglobal.com. Once again, we are all set for November 15th at JW Marriott, 1740 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica – welcome on board!
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