Springboard Enterprises Bootcamp

December 5, 2002

Milken Institute Conference Center
Santa Monica, CA


As part of its ongoing efforts to support programs for entrepreneurs and encourage investment in markets that stimulate the economy, the Milken Institute hosted a workshop by Springboard Enterprises on Dec. 5, designed to prepare and connect women-led businesses to investors in the equity capital markets.

The in-depth, one-day "BootCamp" brought together more than 50 women entrepreneurs and local business people to talk about how to raise needed capital for their growing firms. It included a talk by Katrina Garnett, founder of CrossWorlds Software, case studies, panel discussions with leading industry experts and a fast-pitch session highlighting four local entrepreneurs.

Garnett, Managing Director of Garnett Capital, opened the program. She drew from her own inspiring story to illustrate to the audience how to map out their course, detect opportunity to create a new space in the marketplace, stay afloat financially and be flexible when the need arises. Her key pieces of advice were to file patents early on and find the right niche. She also discussed the importance of educating the market about your company's product and knowing how to use the media. Other key points: raise money before you need it, know everyone — customers, analysts and vendors — and let your customers speak for your brand to bring you credibility. In sum, she said, know your vision, execute in phases and have an exit strategy.

Don Fracchia of Wells Fargo Bank spoke about raising capital in general terms. Wells Fargo has long been a small-business friendly bank, said Fracchia, and he advised the attendees to show discipline, focus and have a plan beyond their entrepreneurial vision and passion.

Three brass-tacks panels filled the next several hours. The first, moderated by Betsy Zeidman, head of the Milken Institute's Emerging Domestic Markets Program, discussed the key elements of a growth business. The panelists represented venture capital, banking, law and accounting, and included a former Springboard participant. They discussed financing models and how to assess the competition so that your product stands out above the rest. Their key points: analyze and evaluate the competition as well as barriers to sale, bring in a team that can execute and be credible.

The next panel took it one step further: doing the deal. The panelists focused on due diligence, good connections and good corporate housekeeping. They touched on the structure of different deals and stressed the importance of knowing which fund is the right one for your business. Most of all, they agreed, be patient.

The lunch session, moderated by the Milken Institute's Director of Capital Studies, Glenn Yago, discussed today's economic realities — investors are now looking for companies with high margins, typically 45 to 65 percent, with experienced management teams. The definition of "early stage" financing has migrated upward and investors expect significant milestones before considering a firm. Again, infrastructure, a solid business base and good corporate governance were at the forefront. But investors are still interested in good ideas and consumer product companies. When it came to where the capital would come from, a common theme emerged: match your company's needs with the right fund.

The day then shifted from panel discussions to a case study of a successful woman-led firm, SatisFusion, presented by its chairman, Fay Wood. She was followed by four fast pitches presented by local entrepreneurs who were treated to feedback by a panel of investors.

For more information about its programs, visit the Springboard Enterprises web site.