Start-ups prepare to make the pitch

Business man taking portfolio to job interview


Kai Ryssdal: There are few days in a wanna-be entrepreneurs life that are more nerve-wracking that the day they first ask for money. Unless they're hitting mom and dad up for a loan, most of them will have to stand up in front of a group of venture capitalists at some point and make the pitch. Explain why their mousetrap is better. Tomorrow, a handful of venture capitalists are going to descend on Philadelphia. They'll head for a business incubator where about a dozen fledgling entrepreneurs have spent the summer honing their business plans. Joel Rose has more.

JOEL ROSE: Yeah, so, just pretend I'm the venture capitalist and just hit me with it.

Thai Nguyen: Hi, I'm Thai Nguyen. I'm the co-founder and CEO of Jobaphiles.com.

Thai Nguyen has been practicing his pitch all summer. His Boston-based company tries to connect college students with short-term jobs.

Nguyen spent the past three months at a sort of boot camp for aspiring entrepreneurs called DreamIt Ventures. His and nine other start-ups here get up to $30,000, free office space, and coaching from successful entrepreneurs.

ANDREW Montalenti: Every time I wake up and take a shower, I'm thinking about Parsely.

Not the garnish. Parsely in this case is a Web application that filters content on the Internet. The incubator allowed engineer Andrew Montalenti to quit his day job in New York to work exclusively on Parsely. His partner Sachin Kandar left his job, too.

SACHIN Kandar: If we were to have just gone into bootstrapping mode, we would've had to split our time between working on Parseley and making money working on side projects, because we have to eat and live, right? Just having those three months to go full-time with it was really valuable.

But Kandar and Montalenti don't know if they'll get to keep working on Parsely full-time after tomorrow. That's when all the start-ups at DreamIt are going to pitch their projects to a room full of potential investors. Among them is Colin Evans of Sandwith Ventures. He says it's a convenient way for him to connect with lots of companies at once.

COLIN Evans: I like the format because it gives me an easy way to walk over and just spend a day talking to two or three or four companies.

But given the economic climate, it's not clear how many of these companies will find funding tomorrow. Still, the entrepreneurs told me they'd consider the experience a success anyway.

In Philadelphia, I'm Joel Rose for Marketplace.

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Glad to see there are Boston startups pitching in Philadelphia. How about the same type of story for Boston incubators? I think you will get a lot of support from pretty strong startup community in Boston area.

Many of the companies that presented at Demo Day don't need funding. I'm really impressed by the companies that are already generating revenue, like Trendsta which helps companies market to teens and the team I had the privilege to mentor, Postling.com which reduces the time it takes to manage social media posting by 80%. I wish I could have gone through a program like this! Ellen @ www.4walls.us

As a fellow DreamIt company Founder and CEO of www.straightupenglish.com, thanks for the great coverage. I'm a big fan of NPR and Marketplace, Kai Ryssdal has got the voice and just the right balance of wry observation! As a language learning company focussed on the most persistent speech challenges of non-native speakers, we appreciate fine examples of elocution. And as a start-up, bootstrapping from another start-up, check out our iPhone App design and development company, www.iSoPretty.com.

I'm with www.Tapinko.com, from the DreamIt class of '08 and we're still going strong. We make advertising in off-line traditional media easy. The program was fantastic for us and I'm really impressed with this year's companies.

I'm a co-founder of another DreamIt Ventures startup that was not featured in this story - Three Screen Games. Our first game, FanGamb, is launching in 2 weeks. Be sure to follow our progress on Twitter @fangamb and sign up for an email update at http://www.fangamb.com

Great story as I am budding entrepreneur and Philadelphia resident,I enjoy hearing about oppurtunity for us doing things a little different than the regulars.

I'm also a founder of a DreamIt company this year: Kidzillions.com.

Just finished Demo Day; it was awesome. I think presentations will be on the DreamIt site if you want to check them out. (Hi Sachin!)

Here's free--and perhaps too late--advice for Mr. Thai Nguyen....You should be able to sum up what your business can do for a customer, in that first sentence. If you can sell the sizzle that quickly, you can advertise it anywhere--and that gets the attention of an experienced VC.

Good luck, sir.

Hey, I co-founded Parse.ly and I just wanted to give anyone who's interested the url for our website. http://parse.ly. Excited for tomorrow!

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