Integrity

In Philip Beauregard‘s “quest for truth” we’re struck by the lack of academic integrity let alone the slanderous style in his post about charging startups to present. It becomes evident right away that Mr. Beauregard is taking this issue quite personally with intent on getting his 5 minutes of fame by attempting to rally entrepreneurs that companies that help startups (in our case venture backed and emerging growth companies) connect with investors via conferences and charging for those service are slithery snakes (he’s actually removed the picture of the cobra from earlier today).

It’s not Phil’s first rant.  It seems he’s been at this before (see link at the bottom of this post). The question you should be asking is, why?  What’s hilarious here is that he’s a former investment banker.  Now, we have a lot of investment banker friends and as far as we know  investment bankers charge startups to help them fund-raise.   We’re wondering what Phil’s take is on this matter and what he’d say about his own past or his former employers.  The question was actually posed to him in the email exchange below but he chose to let it go.

Another funny thing about his rant was that he referenced our dear friend Jason Calicanis, former CEO of Silicon Alley Reporter, and his previous posts about paying to pitch.  What people don’t seem to realize is that back when Silicon Alley Reporter was around Jason used to charge startups to have breakfast and lunch with VCs for $500 a pop.  The fact is that Jason still charges startups for visibility via his conferences but instead of charging for “presenting” he calls it exhibiting.   Sounds like a big difference…

Jason is perhaps more well known for his rants on DEMO and others that charge but most of all for his fallout with Michael Arrington of Tech Crunch.  (See Arrington’s story here and judge for yourself).

If Phil relates to Jason as his King and truth bearer, it doesn’t say a lot of good about him and if he uses him as the only backbone he has to his story then that’s pretty pathetic.  

Phil also seems to ignore the fact that he was given startups and VCs to contact and interview for his story, but given his short deadline, along with his interest in getting the “facts” out, he couldn’t  be bothered. 

One more point for now. It seems strange that Phil would complain about startups being charged to present when that includes multiple benefits such as 3 tickets, 2 page profile, presentation,  coaching etc., yet he’s ok with having his article featured at PandoDaily when they seem to charge startups $800 for simple membership (fancy name for attending events), http://pandomonthlyny-eorg.eventbrite.com/ .  Any comments Phil?

Here’s the email that was sent to him from Joe Benjamin.

Joe’s Email

that’s so sweet for you for letting me know.  I think it’s a great idea and appreciate the great amount of visibility you’re offering us.  Adam – I’d trust that the story will be truthful and honest.

In order to get you this ASAP, I’m just jotting down notes below and not organizing the content.

Please reach out to Doron Reuveni of uTest http://www.utest.com/management , a company based in MA and interview him for the story. His company presented at 2 of our summits. The first time at the New England Venture Summit and then at our New York Venture Summit.  The fact that he saw value as many companies do to join us again for a second event I think speaks for itself.   I’m not sure what meetings/leads he had from the NEVS as the companies don’t usually tell us but he did raise a large round of funding from the NYVS where he connected with a west coast VC, Scale Venture Partners.            

Then please reach to interview Sharon Weinbar from Scale Venture Partners http://www.scalevp.com/biography/sharon-wienbar .  She’s participated at a number of our summits and ask her for feedback.

You can also reach out to – Dave Gwozdz, CEO, Mojiva, Inc. he raised both series A and Series B rounds directly from our summits.   One of those investors is http://www.bdmifund.com/team.html you can also reach out to his angel investor Miles Spencer who has encouraged and paid for more than 1 of his companies to present by us and ask him why.

Maybe you guys aren’t aware of how bad the situation is for startups both seeking seed stage and those seeking institutional rounds or again your story is really not about the startup.

Are you aware that both angels and VCs reach out to nominate their companies wanting us to feature them and either pay the bill for the company or have the company pay?

There’s an entire industry filed with companies that produce conferences and offer startups exposure etc.  If you discourage groups like us from producing programs you are actually damaging the ecosystem and doing startups a huge disservice.  We need to be incentivized to produce programs and have a right to our model which is completely legit. If someone isn’t interested they don’t need to buy. That’s the great thing about America and capitalism.

The truth is it’s no different if  companies hiring someone to focus on their fundraising in-house, only difference is, they likely don’t specialize in it and if they do their usually a banker.

When you ask me why we charge startups the real question is why would you think we shouldn’t.  I could hear the case being made against angels charging startups to present to their own networks, but for YSV ( a third party to the deal) to work months on producing a venture conference where staff is busy day and night recruiting investors from across the country and globe, where we pay for the hotel, catering, staff, printing material and take on a huge risk etc why in the world would you suggest that we shouldn’t? do you think we should offer our services for free? Do you?

Do you know what we offer our companies? What benefits they receive?

Are you aware that we offer multiple tikctes, 2 page profile, presenting and a coaching session which is super valuable?

Your suggestion that we have a scheme or scam is completely false.  We’re super honest and offer a very valuable service.

You’re suggestion that these entrepreneurs need you to protect them because they’re unsophisticated is also troubling.

As for your feature of Jason Calacanis, I suggest you interview him as well as ask him whether he recalls charging startups $500 to have lunch with VCs during his days as founder and CEO of SAR.   I’m not against it as again this is America but for him to complain it’s a little pathetic.

The fact is he charges companies to exhibit and attend and higher rates then we charge so it’s really sad. The truth is he doesn’t believe what we’re doing is wrong, but the fact that he’s making a lot of noise he hopes will get him brownie points and attempt to squash competition. Afterall that’s what tech crunch did to Demo, meanwhile they too charge  a few k.

As for you, I’d ask you to write your thoughts on the whole investment banking industry and explain if you’re fine with them charging companies for their service (very similar to ours with higher fees). Again I’m not against it, but it would be great to know your stance given your background as a former I banker who I assumed charged companies to help them raise funding.

I’d also think it would be worthwhile for you to write about Accelerators. After all their model is really not much different than a conference.  We both know, they are joining the accelerators primarily for access to people and ultimately for funding (i.e. the Demo Day). They surely would not be giving up so much of their company for a few $k and advice, therefore the question that should be asked is why should they give up so much of their company.

If uTest would have joined an accelerator and met Scale they would have given away a far larger portion of their company then the $1500 we charge.

So…..let the startups make up their own mind without you guys feeding them nonsense.

Love to hear your thoughts and thanks again for the publicity.

On a personal note – I think it’s pure evil the way you guys lash out at people.

Joe

—–Original Message—–

From: Philip H. Beauregard [mailto:philipph81@yahoo.com]
Sent: Friday, November 01, 2013 5:52 PM
To: joe Benjamin
Cc: Adam L. Penenberg
Subject: I’m running a piece in PandoDaily on you guys – I would like your “side”

Joe -

I wrote a pretty harsh piece about YSV in PandoDaily that labels Pay-to-pitch as predatory for entrepreneurs. I used a decent amount of fodder from your interactions with Jason Calacanis, and recently with Scott Kirsner and Abby Fichtner of Boston Lean Circle.

I want you to be aware of it. I’d also like to give you the opportunity to write a paragraph in defense of your business. We will include it so that you have your say. We will be running it this weekend, so if you could please get back to me I’d appreciate it. Again, we’d like to give you the chance to explain why you think pay-to-pitch is valuable. Any data or the like would greatly help.

Phil

Phil’s previous rant: http://pandodaily.com/2013/03/20/how-to-scare-off-bad-actors-in-the-startup-ecosystem/

Is Paying to Pitch Really a Scam (or are the folks complaining saying it is for ulterior motives)?

As we mentioned in the initial post, it’s always important to question who are the people making the claims and why they’re making the claims.  In this post we’d like to analyze why specific individuals are making the claim that “Paying to Pitch” is a scam, hear their reasons for making that claim, see what they base that claim on, hear why they seem to ignore so many other facts.  

We’ll be posing numerous questions some of which may appear as if they are not related but we assure you they all are.

Let’s start with Scott Kirsner and his recent Tweet

Scott Kirsner ‏@ScottKirsner

Nice to see HackerChick  unload on the hucksters at Young Startup Ventures, who charge entreps to pitch C-list investors at their events.”

Scott is a reporter for the Boston Globe so we were surprised to see these comments and accusations.  

Scott sounds quite annoyed about the idea of charging entrepreneurs to pitch and so we have a few a questions to better understand Scott’s position. We invite Scott to join us on this forum so that we can get some answers.

Scott – you seem to question the legitimacy of startups paying to present, is that correct?  If so, please tell us why and answer the questions below.

  1. What need do you think entrepreneurs are looking to fill by attending and/or presenting at these forums?
  2. Do you feel that all startups can fulfill those needs completely on their own i.e. with their own network?
  3. What are the main ways companies go about raising funding given that many dont have an extensive network? i.e. should they use investment  bankers?
  4. Do you feel that participating at a meeting where investors are present can fulfill that need?
  5. Do you feel it is worthwhile for startups to attend such events without presenting?

Welcome to the youngStartup Blog!

Hi everyone,

We are pleased to announce the launching of our very own youngStartup Venture’s Blog!

The purpose of our blog is to bring up some of the hotly debated topics regarding the various conferences out there. We view this as a challenge that will ultimately make us better at what we do.

Initially our main focus will be to debate some of the internet graffiti that has been blogged, twittered in the past and recently on this topic. We have been involved in this field for over 13 years and the few comments that have been made in recent years need to be explored in depth to see if there is any validity to them or if there are ulterior motives involved. We invite anyone that has comments or concerns to share them with us so that we can discuss the comments in a cordial and professional manner. The blog will be monitored to make sure that a cordial and professional tone is kept at all times. We believe that were all sophisticated enough to read through the information that we and the others will present and this way everyone will be able to make their own logical conclusions.

We will continue blogging shortly and will be  inviting some of the commentators to this forum for in depth discussions which will hopefully clarify the truth about the true motives of their comments.

We look forward!