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Entrepreneur 2.0 – Merging Education, Crowdfunding & Incubators

co- written by MO.com Subject Matter Resource Jason Best & Sherwood Neiss

2013 is going to be an interesting year. It will be the year that the pieces of the puzzle come together for entrepreneurs. Prior to 2013 entrepreneurs were tasked with learning a lot of tangential yet not fully connected tasks. The idea, the business plan, the capital raising, the organization, the structure and the financials. It took more than an idea, it took a village of supporters, many of whom never got paid, to help an entrepreneur with a vision see the light of day. The one thing that won’t change is the people who will always rally around someone with a vision they believe in.

Our newest client at CCA aims to solve the tangential problem. In a unique twist of fate we have been hired by a group of seasoned entrepreneurs and angel investors to turn a co-working space into a crowdfunding incubator that provides the education and tools to attract the top talent in Washington, DC. Under their mentorship and guidance, an education component based on our forthcoming book Crowdfund Investing for Dummies (Wiley Publishing) and the capital and marketing support of the crowd, the goal is to launch over 20 successful businesses per year. (Compare this to one per year from many other incubators).

The introductory call was the same as every other, “so you passed this crowdfunding law for entrepreneurs, how much to come in and tell us all about it?” As with all introductory meetings it was what we learned from these incredibly successful entrepreneurs and investors that piqued our interest. It wasn’t about finding the next Facebook, it was about leveraging the power of the crowd to find the 2nd tier successes or even the regional successes (obviously Washington, DC has a need for specialized government contractors while the Midwest has for organically manufactured insecticides).

The plan is to hold an education event that explains the process. Entrepreneurs come to a group session, pitch their ideas to the group. The group decides which ideas are the best. Those winning ideas go through a 2-week intensive boot camp and learn how to craft a winning crowdfunding pitch. They make their video and perfect their pitch. From there social media and the crowds wisdom takes over. Only fully funded entrepreneurs come out of the funnel. Each of them is provided a spot at the incubator (none of this is free by the way – no pain no gain is the Angel’s philosophy … nothing is free in life and these entrepreneurs need to learn fast and early). From there milestones, mentorship and investor relations rule the day.

The goal is to get entrepreneurs not only to leverage the power of crowd but their money as well. Within the incubator environment foster them until they are ready to spread their wings and hopefully with the support of their crowd/investors have a greater degree of success than their peers.

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