America is a culture of entrepreneurs. According to “Forbes” magazine, more than 500,000 new small businesses are launched each month in the United States. That’s more than six million new investment opportunities each year! While investing in a new venture can be profitable and exciting, finding the gems amid that sea of new companies can be a challenge.
Best Startup Websites
Get to know the virtual startup community. The websites listed below are excellent sources of news and conversations. Get on their mailing lists, follow them on Twitter (more on that in a minute) and subscribe to their blogs.
- TechCrunch.com – It’s an AOL company that follows the tech startup craze. Crunchbase is its sister site, which I a who’s who database of entrepreneurs. Are you on the list? You should be. TechCrunch also hosts conferences and meetups around the globe. It has 12 million unique visitors per month, according to the company.
- Mashable.com – This is a news site for “the connected generation.” It reports to have 34 million unique users and has a section devoted to startups.
- VentureBeat.com – Primarily a news source for startups in the tech industry, the site boasts 7.5 million unique monthly users.
Entrepreneur, Inc., and Forbes also have micro sites devoted to the startup industry. While these aren’t going to hand deliver investment opportunities to you, they will plug you into the community, teach you about the startup environment and alert you to events.
Local Startup Organizations
Look for entrepreneur meetups and organizations that support innovation and small business development. These are where you’ll shake hands with other investors and entrepreneurs.
- THINK Conservatory in New York City started House of Genius, where startups blind pitch to a panel of investors, experts, advisers and entrepreneurs. Genius events are popping up in cities around the world, including Austin, Texas; Hong Kong; Madrid, Spain; Phoenix, Ariz; and San Francisco. Watch for one to come to a city near you or, even better, start one.
- Startup Competitions typically invite early stage startups to pitch to investors for the chance to win prize money. Even more important, they give bootstrapped businesses wide exposure to potential investors. Grasshopper.com has a list of startups, and you can search the Internet for “startup competition” + geographical area.
- Local government and nonprofit organizations that support small businesses and, more importantly, startups, are a great way to connect with potential investment opportunities. For example, InvestSouthwest.org connects potential investors with investment opportunities primarily in Arizona, Texas, Nevada, California and New Mexico.
- StartupWeekend holds events all over the world where people come together, share ideas, form teams and launch startups.
Your local chamber of commerce and small business association likely hold regular networking events that are geared toward supporting small businesses.
Ask Other Entrepreneurs
The best source of investment opportunities is to ask people you know. Many “country club” deals have been facilitated through word of mouth, and you likely know someone who knows someone who is looking for investors.
If you have other suggestions for finding investment opportunities, share them in the comments below.