Thursday, October 9, 2008

Inconvenience Is The Mother Of All Invention

Aside from Exxon and the Saudis, I'm probably the only guy in the US who is thrilled with these outrageous gas prices. If it was up to me I'd push gas prices even higher as I don't think that there is enough pain at the pump yet. $10 per gallon would be perfect.

No, I'm not a masochist and no, I don't own any oil stocks either. I'm just a regular American who is sick and tired of being held hostage by foreign countries from the Middle East, Russia and Venezuela. Nothing would make me happier than to see all of them sit on tankers full of oil that are virtually worthless. I strongly believe that we are getting there.

Inconvenience is the mother of all invention. Think about all of the historical achievements the world has produced over the years. Fire, the wheel, cars, computers, airplanes. Almost all of them born in an effort to solve some kind of inconvenience, some kind of pain. Using that same model, it stands to reason that being held hostage to these outrageous gas prices will encourage someone, ANYONE to invent a way to get us off of our addiction to foreign oil. It has.

This summer, Funding Universe has been approached by a number of companies, both big and small who are working on this exact problem. Some are working on bio fuels, others on solar power or wind power. We recently worked with a company that developed a product that harnessed wind power from the ocean and converted it into transportable energy. It has been exciting to see the thought, calculations and designs that have been created by each of these companies and my only regret is that we don't have more. Yes sir, a throbbing pain can move a lot of things, including a nation.

Joel Nielsen is a Venture Consultant at Funding Universe and can be emailed at

Live Pitch a HUGE Success

Last week Funding Universe hosted a "Live" Pitch event on the Novell campus in Provo, Utah. Five companies were selected to present their products and services to a panel of six investors and business experts. Approximately 150 spectators attended the two hour event.

Live Pitch was born from another Funding Universe event called "Speed" Pitching. "Speed" Pitching is similar to speed dating. In speed pitching, ten screened businesses meet in a room filled with 30-50 investors. The goal for business owners is to pique the interest of Angel and Venture Capitalist for future funding. For the Entrepreneur they get the undivided attention of 30-50 investors and the investors benefit because they can be introduced to 10 vetted businesses through Funding Universe in less than two hours.

Businesses are allowed four uninterupted minutes to present their venture. They then have three minutes to answer questions and bing bam boom they are done. Four minutes is not a lot of time to explain an entire business, so the pitches have to be precise, thorough and engaging. Many businesses who have participated in our "Speed" Pitch event have asked Funding Universe if they could watch a Speed Pitch before participating in one. Alas, "Live" Pitch was born.

Last week the five qualifying businesses screened to present were
  • ListPipe, a new SEO company focused on providing custom content through an online subscription service.

  • Izatt International, a local development group focusing on iPhone applications.

  • Gruvie, a social utility that enables you to wrangle all your social networking accounts into a single login.

  • Lignin Bio Fuels, an alternative fuel company that produces transportation fuel out of non-edible biomass.

  • Estamar Strategy, a consulting group managing business investment opportunities

  • After presenting, the audience was allowed to invest $200 in "FU Funny Money" into any of the five companies. The audience in conjunction with the six panalists produced the top two companies. The two "Live" Pitch winners were Ian Ellis of Gruvie and Cary Snowden of ListPipe. (In a bit of unbiased reporting, I would like to point out that I only had one client in the competition and he won)

    Our next Speed Pitch event will be on October 24th at the Larry H Miller Campus in Sandy, Utah. We invite you to come out and see how Funding Universe facilitates the interface of Small Businesses with Angels and VC's.

    Joel Nielsen is a Venture Consultant at Funding Universe and can be contacted at