Are You Fundable Interview with Intelliversity Executive Director
This brief podcast interview is a discussion of Intelliversity's Are You Fundable program.
The first part of the program is free. It includes:
- A self-assessment to determine if your concept is fundable or your company is ready for another round of funding
- Identifies the gaps that need to be addressed to improve your odds of fundability
- Once the self-assessment is complete, you are eligible for a consultation to review your assessment
- During this consultation, we will be generous with our thoughts and experience. Our goal is that all participants in the meeting leave enriched by the experience
We encourage you to listen to the recording or read the transcript. This program accelerates funding. 100% of Intelliversity clients that successfully complete all three stages receive the funding required.
Access this program and our entire library of eBooks and guides with free membership in Intelliversity.
Host: Robert D: Hi, this is Robert with P5 Radio. This is part of our ongoing series of conversations with people that are making a difference in the world. People that we think you should be listening to, and hopefully by the end of this segment you'll agree. My guest for this segment is Robert Steven Kramarz. Robert is the executive director of Intelliversity. Intelliversity is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and informing entrepreneurs in the battle of funding. They really have a contribution to make to us here.
Robert himself has over 30 years experience in computer and software management. He is an investor. He's worked with Tech Coast Angels, I'm sure he'll tell you a little bit more about that. He's an author of several books, lots of great articles on LinkedIn. Rob, welcome to the show.
Guest: Rob K: Thank you very much. My friends do call me Rob, so you can use that shorter version.
Host: Robert D: Thank you, Mr. Kramarz, rather Rob.
Guest: Rob K: We're going after the money so you can think of me as 'Rob the bank', teach you how to rob the bank.
Host: Robert D: All right. Well, maybe there are less drastic ways to raise funds but whatever is in the name of science and technology is only fair. Rob, one of the things that I like about speaking with is that you're very bright, very knowledgeable and insightful on this particular topic of funding entrepreneurial dreams. I'm interested in talking with you about a new program that you have, it's a three-phase program? Did I get that right, Rob?
Guest: Rob K: Yes. It's a three-stage program dedicated to seeing more innovations receive the funding they need to succeed.
Host: Robert D: Okay, three stage program that helps people raise funds. Maybe you can give us an overview of that and then tell us a little bit about how that fits into Intelliversity's mission.
Guest: Rob K: The three-phase program is the Intelliversity program to help innovators get the funding they deserve, that you deserve and the three phases ... No, you're getting me confused here. The three stages are Qualify, Prepare, and Access, because you really can't prepare if you're not fully qualified. Qualifying simply means removing the red flags that would immediately stop an investor from looking seriously so there's no point in being prepared if you're not really fully qualified but being qualified really is not a huge barrier as long as you understand what the red flags are.
Host: Robert D: I guess before we get into more about the whole program that you just described, tell me about Intelliversity's mission, I mean why does Intelliversity exist, what is it and what can we expect from the company?
Guest: Rob K: Sure. Well anybody who observes the economy knows they're really trillions of dollars that are invested every year in the stock market, and in the bond market and in all kinds of real estate and a very small fraction of that money goes to innovation or science. Our mission ... And the reason is fear. Of course, investors simply don't like taking risks, so even though they're hungry for yield, they don't like taking risks to get it. Our job is to reduce the risk, the perceived risk that the innovator appears to create. That's why we're here.
Our mission is to increase the private funding of innovation and science by a factor of 10 over the next 10 years. In other words, 10 times as much money from private sources goes to innovation and science which would really make a huge sea change, because then we won't be dependent on politics or government funding for the majority of the money that goes into innovation and science and that would be a huge step forward for the country and for mankind. We're real big believers in the power of innovation and science to make life better and ultimately to bring about a peaceful world or a multi-world. Since that's our belief ... The only way to get there we believe now is through the private funding of innovation and science.
We're very active in the investment community separately from the non-profit ... I'm very active in the investment community to stimulate more private funding of innovation and science on the investor side and we'll be ... Actually in the planning stages of forming a new venture capital firm that will be based in San Diego but that's not ready yet. In the meantime, the mission of Intelliversity is to help companies understand and their owners understand how to qualify, prepare and access the money that is available so that you get your share.
Host: Robert D: Okay. Just out of curiosity, I'm sure your personal vision and passion align with Intelliversity but what prompted you to take this on?
Guest: Rob K: Well, I began investing really seriously in about 2009 and 2010 and was a member of Tech Coast Angels, the largest Angel group for a while and as well as privately and discovered that the investor community doesn't treat innovators well. There's kind of an attitude of, "We're the money, so you have to respect us." Understanding that that's a perfectly human response and it comes from fear and insecurity but in any case, investors most often and frequently have that attitude.
It sometimes shows up as lots of hoops that you have to jump through or just an attitude that they have of arrogance or something like they're the king and you're the court jester and it's, "Make me laugh or off with your head." All right so, "Pitch to me if I love you, I'll give you money, if not, off with your head." That just annoyed the heck out of me because I'm basically an innovator myself and an entrepreneur.
Even though I want to continue to be in the investment community I don't want to partake of that attitude. I personally honor and appreciate the innovators ... Oh, I must say this, [inaudible 00:08:29] listening to this, when you think about it, as an innovator you're putting all of your money, all of your time and all of your reputation on the line and your family's, to pursue your innovation, your ideas and the investor is putting maybe one percent of his assets or her assets into your venture if they invest in it at all.
I'm not suggesting that investors shouldn't be careful, they should be careful but you're the one taking the larger risk and you're the one putting the most on the line and you should be respected and honored for it. Particularly for the end result which is the contribution that you make to the world. That's why I'm doing this because we want to see that contribution, we want to see you respected and honored and that your contribution maximized. I really care about that personally.
Host: Robert D: All right. It's obvious and it's clear. Having been on the entrepreneurial side of a venture capital dance I can assure you that I felt some of what you were just describing.
Guest: Rob K: It pissed me off. When someone is pissed off at something, they should go and take action. I took action.
Host: Robert D: There you go.
Guest: Rob K: We are in the process of creating that imbalance. At least the dance with the investor is an equal dance and it should be fun. Okay, that's what we're doing, that's what I'm doing.
Host: Robert D: It's like dating. Anyway, I'm looking at your website, it's pretty clear that Intelliversity is built around these three steps of, qualify, prepare and access.
Guest: Rob K: We call them stages, so the three stages because there are steps within them so ...
Host: Robert D: Understood. The first is qualify and I understand you have a program that helps people basically answer that question of, are you fundable? Which I think is in the center of every entrepreneur's heart, the question is: are people going to give me money for this idea? Maybe you could tell us a little bit about the Are You Fundable program.
Guest: Rob K: Yeah, it's a free program. Are You Fundable is the first of the three stages, which are: qualify, prepare, access. There's no point in spending your valuable time preparing and accessing investors if you're not really ... The chances are very small if you're not really qualified to engage. It's not that it's very hard to qualify, it's just that you have to know what the red flags are, what we call the stop signs or the red lights.
If you know what red lights you're presenting to investors then you will stop doing it. The first step is to qualify which means to determine what are the red lights that you're presenting and then eliminate them. Also as part of qualifying, you'll learn what the yellow lights and what's the green and blue lights are, so should I go into that?
Guest: Rob K: It's pretty obvious. A red light is what you're doing or presenting that is just completely stopping investors and I don't mean just in the way you present it but what you're presenting. Then the yellow lights are those things that are not stopping investors but if there's more than a few of them, they're going to be concerned so those are the caution lights and those are things that you should pay attention to after you end with the red lights. The green lights are those aspects of your business that are go, go, go. Looking good. You want most of the aspects of your business to be a green light, obviously, that's communicating to the investor go, go, go.
Then there the blue lights which are aspects of your business which are wow! Blue being synonymous with these bright blue sky. You can take off with that aspect. You want to have a few aspects of your company to be wow, so that will balance out the caution, the caution elements and you want no ... You don't want any red lights at all because that'll stop the whole process so there you go.
Host: Robert D: It's a common thing.
Guest: Rob K: Yeah, it's kind of a color coded easy way of visualizing what you're presenting.
Host: Robert D: Before the program we shared a cup of coffee and kicked around some thoughts and you made an interesting point that I'd like to bring up and have you share with the listeners. The concept of Are You Fundable yet as being ... The fact that you may not be fundable right now but there's a process by which you can become fundable, it is not a black and white process. Tell me a little bit about that.
Guest: Rob K: Are You Fundable is are you fundable yet? Every innovative idea or visionary should be able to mold their idea, mold your ideas into a fundable form so if you're not yet fundable you will be very shortly and you'll know ... With our free Are You Fundable stage one of our program, you really know where the red lights are and so what you have to do to be fundable. If you're not fundable now, you will be shortly.
Host: Robert D: When you said free it perked my interest, tell me what somebody gets for free.
Guest: Rob K: What we do is we'll provide you with a copy of the Intelliversity company fundability Scorecards which is a color-coded assessment of your business and your team which should take you about a half an hour possibly to work through. No big deal, there's an instructional booklet that goes with it, although most of the points are pretty self-evident and you score yourself red, yellow, green or blue on each point. Score yourself, meaning your business and your team and then you'll be able to see really quickly at a glance where it might need some work or might be fully qualified to go after funding.
That's part of the free program. It's really actually very informative, the booklet that goes with it is like a mini MBA within a couple of pages about all the aspects of running a business, which is, by the way, one of the harder things that a human being can do, is actually starting a business. As much as we honor you for this, we also have to recognize that it's very hard to do and those of you who do it successfully are something special.
Then the other free part is we will actually sit down with you for as much as an hour and go through the ... this is usually by telephone. If you live in San Diego we can set it up face to face. Then we'll go through the scorecard and we'll look at your answers, make sure that we agree and then answer the questions you have about what you need to do to be fundable if anything and that personal interview is also part of the free program.
Host: Robert D: Okay. Well, that's pretty cool.
Guest: Rob K: Pretty cool, yeah.
Host: Robert D: That is a lot of value.
Guest: Rob K: Oh, yeah.
Host: Robert D: Let me just take a quick pause here. There's like a tearing noise in the background that I don't like.
Guest: Rob K: Okay, I think I was doing it.
Host: Robert D: Okay. All right. Let me give a five-second pause so I know where to start back up.
Okay. I mean that's obviously a lot of value, I mean you're going to fill out this form, you're going to get a really good sense of where you are. You're going to get a fair amount of time from an Intelliversity advisor. Is there going to be a heavy sales pitch at the end?
Guest: Rob K: Well, we're a non-profit. Our doors stay open by virtue of donations and contributions. There's no heavy sales pitch here. We'd like you to advance to the prepare stage.
Host: Robert D: Yeah, it would be kind of like if it made sense for both parties then we can go ahead and pick up. Tell me, if I did go forward a little bit about what I can expect in the prepare phase.
Guest: Rob K: Great, we call the prepare phase, fast track to funding. Fast track to funding also consists of two steps. The first step is to score, not you or your company, but score all of the due diligence in presentation materials that you have already prepared. Things like your executive summary, your pitch take, your PPM, your website, videos, financial proformas and all the stuff that you have to do to jump through the hoops and be legally compliant. We call that scoring the due diligence and documentation materials. We use a 1,000 point scale that was developed by one of our partners, with a very, very careful and accurate assessment of each element in your preparation.
Then the second part of that program is the ... We'll sit down with you over the telephone and develop a funding strategy which I think is unique to Intelliversity because we now know all of the ways to raise funding and sources of funds. We can really accurately tell you or advise how much money should be raised at each round or each tranche and how to use that. The whole purpose of this strategy is to absolutely minimize the amount of your company that you have to give away, that you have to give up to get the funding. That's the whole point of this, is to get the most amount of money for the least amount of company.
We'll develop a strategy that will get you from A to B and then from B to C and from C to D in a very systematic way without giving away much of your business. This will also really help clarify ... This is another MBA in finance this time. This will really help clear out the jungle of confusion and hack through the jungle of confusion that's out there about all the different methods of raising money and types of deals and sources. It will cut a clear path through the jungle which call the fast track right to the light blue see where all the resources are.
I think our clients, our student have been really grateful to feel the overwhelm go away and the relief of knowing there's a clear path, a fast track to access. That's the second part of the prepare stage, is the multi-tranche strategy to get you to your funding goals. Once again the two parts to this stage two is, one to score all of your preparation that you've done so far and to inform you where more work may need to be done or where you're really looking good and then secondly to give you this funding strategy, this fast track strategy to get you to your goals.
Host: Robert D: The last part of the process is Access. I'm guessing that preparation being properly presented and executed is going to get you more confident with Access to investors.
Guest: Rob K: I should have said this earlier. Our experience with this is really gotten so refined that the preparation stage if properly completed, if you completely do that, your chances of raising funds is virtually 100%. It's simply historically, 100% of companies that have fully completed the preparation stage have gotten their funding. Now, I think it may be overly optimistic to state that 100% of the companies in the future will get their funding, I'd like to think that's the case but it's certainly way, way more than current statistic which is no more than three percent of companies today, without Intelliversity's help. Just going out to raise funding, ever get the funding that they are seeking. Only three percent.
We've looked at that number for many years, from many different perspectives and it never seems to shift until we got on the scene and looked really seriously at what it's going to take to qualify, prepare and access. I'm absolutely confident that if you follow our program you're going to get the funding that you need. As I said so far up to now, all companies that have followed this program and taken the recommendations have gotten their funding.
Host: Robert D: What strikes me as very ... I mean that's a very powerful and very bold statement and you certainly have the qualifications and experience to make that declaration. You want to talk some more about that for those skeptics out there? About your qualifications and why you can make such a bold statement.
Guest: Rob K: Sure. I should have probably said that earlier. Personally, as an investor, I have interviewed well over 600 companies the last count was over, 600 companies of which I would say about 18 to 20 have actually ... A little less, more like 12 have gotten an investment through my group or me. Another member of our team is a very successful venture capitalist has interviewed over 2,000 companies and funded one percent of them. That would be 20 companies in his career.
Then we have several other members of our team that have similar track records. We really sat on the other side of the table and listened carefully and can see really why relatively so few companies actually make it through and get funded. We would very happily fund more companies that presented if only they would do the stuff that Intelliversity recommends. That's what gives us the qualification to give this advice. I see a total of over 4,000 presentations have been scored by our team. We know exactly what we are looking for and what is missing when innovators present to us.
Host: Robert D: It all starts with a free program where you can help begin to answer the question about qualification and we'll get some time with you and I think get a chance to understand you on a personal level, right?
Guest: Rob K: Right. Through the, Are You Fundable program we'll get acquainted personally and familiar with your idea or company.
Host: Robert D: Let me share your contact details with the listeners. The company is Intelliversity, so it's a combination of intelligence and university, Intelliversity and their website is intelliversitycampus.org. You should be able to Google the company and find them. With that Rob we're kind of running out of time here but I wanted to thank you for sharing your insight and we're going to talk in the next week or so I guess and we're going to be able to talk more about your unique insight on teams and diversity and gender and how that impacts the fundability of a company. I look forward to that conversation.
Guest: Rob K: Super Robert, thank you for the opportunity.
Host: Robert D: See you on the next one.