Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
October 29, 2023 | Katelyn Keenehan

Angel investors offer a view from the heavens

Queen City Angels started in 2000 to elevate the start-up community. Now, the group has 200 members in 20 states. QCA has collectively invested over $100 million into more than 100 companies across the U.S.

The Queen City Angels (QCA) investor group took time out of their busy weeks to chat with busy founders about how to secure funding and stand out in a busy entrepreneurial landscape.

Common theme: it’s a busy time of year. But every one of the entrepreneurs who attended the Queen City Angels Entrepreneur Bootcamp took a moment to slow down and go back to the basics. About 20 founders showed up to learn, some newer to the entrepreneurial community than others.

The event started with the executive director of Queen City Angels, Scott Jacobs. He said QCA started in 2000 to elevate the start-up community. Now, the group has 200 members in 20 states. QCA has collectively invested over $100 million into more than 100 companies across the U.S.

Jacobs said QCA has heard hundreds of pitches and business plans over the years. He knows which ones are more likely to succeed, and therefore have a higher likelihood of getting funding. This boot camp is directed toward helping founders strengthen their business plans to appeal to the eyes and ears of those investors.

Positioning the product

The event wasn’t just about how to get funding. It was about all the moving parts of business development that make a business portfolio more appealing.

Marvin Abrinca, the successful founder of Wonderfund, started the lectures with a very engaging presentation about “Growth Hacking.” He shared all the ways to scale a business from social media to online engagement, marketing, and customer retention.

Marvin Abrinca, founder of Wonderfund

“Growth is a series of small activities that lead to big outcomes,” Abrinca said. “How do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time.”

Abrinca’s biggest piece of advice was to scale a company based specifically on consumer insights. He said that oftentimes the pathway for growth is as easy as following a funnel: Acquisition, Engagement, Conversion, and Retention

Drew Boyd grasped the attention of the room next. He called in via. Zoom to present creative, systematic, inventive thinking strategies to grow a business. Boyd is an accomplished, well-known Professor of Innovation and Marketing at the University of Cincinnati.

Presenting to Investors

Expert Panel at Queen City Angels boot camp

There were several panels during the boot camp. Founders had the opportunity to learn how to write financial statements that will appeal to investors. They also got to hear about what angel investors are looking for in a session called A View from the Heavens.

The founder of Queen City Angels, and University of Tennessee alum, Tony Shipley delivered an insightful lecture about building strong internal and external teams. He stressed the importance of the people you hire, especially when a company is young. Every hire can make or break your mission.

And finally, the boot camp wrapped up with a lively lecture from Vance VanDrake, who detailed the process of securing a patent. Many developers have been left wondering for years whether or not they can patent their intellectual property, and VanDrake broke down exactly how people can expedite the process.

Although the boot camp concluded around 5 p.m., the opportunity continued for the entrepreneurs in attendance. They were each assigned a time slot to pitch their business to a group of QCA investors and receive feedback on their plan.

“Entrepreneurs create all that net new job growth that we have as an economy, and they are the innovation engine that we have in our country. Those are the reasons why I support entrepreneurship, and value events like the one we had today,” Shipley said.

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