Angel dinner launched for tech start-ups

Technology start-ups have been urged to submit their funding applications for the next Innovation Bay angel dinner.


The dinner, the first for 2011, will take place on March 1 in Sydney. It will be the first pitch to angels since Spreets, which pitched for funding at the same event last year, and was acquired by Yahoo!7 for $40 million.


Innovation Bay was founded in 2003 by Ian Gardiner, Randal Leeb du-Toit and Phaedon Stough, with the aim of facilitating business opportunities for companies and investors.


The company states: “The objective of Innovation Bay is to bring people together from all walks of life who are passionate about innovation and success.”


“The underlying principle of the group is to create an exclusive forum for leaders in the high growth business space.”


Members are made up of entrepreneurs, senior business leaders and venture capitalists throughout Australia, with a strong technology focus.


In addition to regular breakfast networking events, Innovation Bay holds invitation-only dinners for small select groups, providing a more intimate environment in which to network.


According to Gardiner, the dinners have a relaxed feel and are purely designed to generate discussion between companies and investors.


“After everyone has greeted each other, we have presentations. Each business gets six minutes to do a presentation, usually with visual supports,” he says.


“This is followed by seven or eight minutes of questions, so each business has about 15 minutes [to pitch their idea].”


“We’re merely the catalyst – we’re there to help both sides out. The whole thing is designed to help the start-up community thrive because it can be pretty hard.”


Applicants are asked to submit a 90-second video, describing their business and why they should be selected to attend an angel dinner.


These submissions are then published on the website for members to view before voting for their favourites. Gardiner says the dinners typically attract around 15 applicants, of which just four are invited to attend.


He says standout companies typically have a good team, a clear proposition, a product that is easy to understand, and a customer-focused business model.


In the application process, Innovation Bay tends to favour established businesses, which have already commercialised their idea and are looking for a growth strategy.


Gardiner says he’s particularly proud of Australian group-buying site Spreets, following its acquisition.


“From contacts which [Spreets founder] Dean McEvoy made at this dinner, he was able to secure a solid round of finance from which he and his team have achieved this absolutely spectacular result,” he says.


“It also shows several things. While the technology and start-up landscape in Australia is indeed a tough place, great ideas – executed well with a great team and smart funding – can lead to incredible results.”


“The Innovation Bay angel dinner model absolutely works for both the start-ups and the investors.”


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