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How do you start raising a seed round when you don't have a vast investor network?

We are a hyper local college network that I would briefly describe as non-anonymous Yik-Yak meets Instagram for colleges called Buhz:https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/buhz-hyve/id818568956?mt=8

We have gained traction at OU and are currently in the process of raising a seed round, but up to this point we have primarily been focused on getting our product/market fit right and making our users happy. That being said our team is currently based out of MI (but, willing to relocate) and there are not many social networks founded/funded around here. We have bootstrapped our way to this point so we don't have a abundance of cash to make trips out to Cali multiple times to network.

What are some ways (other than networking on this site) to build up these connections you guys have used to successfully raise a seed round and would scraping together our money for a trip out to CA to network for a week or two be worth while for us?

19 Replies

Jon Asher
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Jon Asher Entrepreneur
Co-Founder at MileZero
check out StartGarden and TechStars Detroit, both in MI
Jon Lunardi
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Jon Lunardi Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO of ScholarVets.com | Military & Veteran Advocate | Education Technologist | DC Entrepreneur | OU Sooner for Life!
Chuck, Is OU = u of Oklahoma? Jonathon Lunardi Founder - The Sooner Alumni Network
Chuck Kelly
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Chuck Kelly Entrepreneur
Founder & Developer of Buhz.com | IOS + Android Developer & UI/UX Designer
Oakland University
John Sechrest
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John Sechrest Entrepreneur • Advisor
Mentor at Startup Mentor
go to Willamette angel conference sponsored by the Eugene chamber and visit with tim berry
Ray Sturm
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Ray Sturm Entrepreneur • Advisor
Co-Founder and CEO at AlphaFlow
EDIT: I thought OU meant Oklahoma so ignore the part about planning a trip to the bay area

Hey Chuck,

I've only raised investment dollars here in SF, so others may have better tips on doing so from other places, but perhaps I can add some insights as well as I didn't have much of a network to start either. To begin with, I'd go to work on your AngelList page - both yours as CEO and the company's. It's a great chance to clearly lay out your company and your message. It also forces you to both think about and articulate a number of items you might not yet have done, but will need to have to be effective in meetings. From there, once that's set, you may get investors asking you for more information but I'd also of course suggest finding investors whose stated interests (and perhaps checkbook) demonstrate that you could be of interest to them. Getting warm intros is MUCH more effective but if you don't have a network, it's possible to start this way and then push your investors to introduce you to more people. That said, in doing this and other work, I'd still suggest planing a trip to SF/SV for a week to meet with more investors. Many of my earliest investors came from all around the country and I've only spoken to them by phone, but there are just so many here in the bay area. Anyway, I'll let others chime in with other advice, but I'd start by getting your AngelList page optimized. Good luck!

Ray
Chuck Kelly
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Chuck Kelly Entrepreneur
Founder & Developer of Buhz.com | IOS + Android Developer & UI/UX Designer

Wow, Thank you for all the quick replies! They are greatly appreciated.

@Jon Asher - Were currently working on a TechStars application now and will look into StartGarden

@John Sechrest When is the next conference and do you have a site w. more info on it?

@Ray Sturm Thank you for taking the time to give us you're advice. We will surely put more time into building up our AngelList profile in the coming week, but for some reason AngelList profiles don't seem like they can be built up with a investment in time alone. Maybe im missing something, but is there a way to signal/message Investors outside of your personal network using Angel List that you're startup exists? or is it suppose to more or less be used just as a lead generator for you to find the names of investors you want to network your way to and the rest is up to you? What leads to getting eyeballs on Angel List ?

@Robin Kent Not sure if your message got cutoff or something.

John Sechrest
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John Sechrest Entrepreneur • Advisor
Mentor at Startup Mentor
There are 6 conferences... Portland, bend Corvallis/Eugene, Medford,Ashland and Seattle. I think the next is Portland. Http://oen.org The Willamette one should be at http://Willametteangelconference.com But talk to tim berry at Palo alto software Go get on the Eugene smartups list at the chamber.
Zach Medina
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Zach Medina Entrepreneur
Owner at Philadelphia App Solutions
We are in a similar situation (not similar product). We are based out of Philadelphia, PA. Along with advice for Chuck, does anyone have recommendations for the Philadelphia area?


Thank you
Robin Kent
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Robin Kent Entrepreneur
Founding Partner at D.SoMo
Chuck
One idea would be to contact the Keiretsu Forum.www.keiretsuforum.com

They do monthly fund raising meetings all across America. I did one on the West Coast last
year,Vancouver Canada, Seattleand Portland.It's hard to qualify, but they also
allow "commercial breaks"between presenters,you might get10 minutes
to promote your business.
Jessica Alter
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Jessica Alter Entrepreneur • Advisor
Entrepreneur & Advisor
In general, it's just about hustling to find the right people. In the Detroit area, Dan Gilbert and Detroit Venture Partners run most things (TechStars is great but brand new). Reach out to someone at Detroit Venture Partners - if you truly have traction I'm sure they'd love to hear from you. The other good option is Johnathan Triest at Ludlow ventures.
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