Great turn out for Tacoma Venture's first meeting

“In photo at right, four of ContractQuest’s team make a last-minute check of their visual presentation before the Tacoma Venture meeting on Friday. ContractQuest’s speaker, Jon Taber, COO, second from left, had five minutes to introduce his product in what is popularly called an elevator presentation. (Photo by Bonnie West). Businesses that have fostered successful ideas and need to pursue continued financing now have the opportunity to fine-tune their business presentations to prospective financial investors through monthly meetings of a new group called Tacoma Venture. Tacoma Venture’s packed kick-off meeting, held Friday afternoon at the Tacoma Club, was a high-value forum that brought the regional venture community to Tacoma.Shopperbox and ContractQuest were two presenters given five minutes each to comprehensively explain what their companies offer and what their long-term goals are, as well as what their projected revenues will be for the coming years.The audience participated by filling out feed-back sheets to offer comments on what was good about the presentations and what could be improved, if necessary. Tacoma Venture is a strategic partnership between the Northwest Venture Group, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce and the Tacoma Technology Consortium to help businesses–whether entrepreneurs or established businesses–be successful in finding and getting the financial backing they need.Lynne Aebi, executive director of Northwest Venture Group, Seattle, said they are a non-profit organization that doesn’t invest financially in these businesses, but helps entrepreneurs get their businesses launched. She was pleased with the turn-out.I’m astounded by the interest, expertise and skill shown by Tacoma businesses, she said. She pointed out that being an entrepreneur can be isolating, and that the issues they face, can be complicated, which were among the reasons why establishing Tacoma Venture was important. We can bring all the tools early stage entrepreneurs need to network, she said.She added that it isn’t just the technology companies that are focused on, but brick and mortar ones as well. We want to encourage all of them because the interests are similar. Tom Eckmann, of SwiftLink, Inc., introduced the concept of the Five Minute Forums, and explained that This gives companies a chance to share what they do, and tell folks what they need and get qualitative feedback.He told prospective presenters that if they weren’t ready for prime time, they can return the next month and try again. Jon Taber, COO of ContractQuest, introduced his company, explaining that they develop wireless and PC-based workgroup tools and online communities for associations. The second presenter was Eli Moreno, president of ShopperBox Networks, a 24-hour package delivery and pickup consolidator. His company developed a computer controlled locker system where pickups and deliveries are scheduled over the Internet, and virtually any company that delivers a product can utilize it.A panel discussion entitled: Positioning for the Long Term: How to Attract Investment Throughout the Life of Your Firm, followed the presentations with Gordon Chanen, of Chanen and Company, Ltd.; and Rob Grenley, of Idmicro, sharing their experiences and answering questions from the audience. Some of their advice to the audience: do your homework, get advice from professionals, make a commitment to play the game, be conservative with estimates, and treat the people on your team and the investors right.One of the final things Grenley, of Idmicro, told the audience was: When you get money from your investors, stay in touch. They believed in you once, why wouldn’t they believe in you again?He encouraged businesses that get support from investors to tell them news, whether good or bad. They will support you and help you. Maybe with something like a revision of a proposal. It’s okay to tell them bad news.The next meeting of Tacoma Venture is tentatively set for January 12. “