Sunday, February 21, 2010

Peer Investment Model for Entrepreneurs Tested in New Orleans, San Francisco and Mumbai

As the Saints come marching in from their historic victory, and with Mardi Gras and New Orleans Entrepreneur Week just around the corner, the reasons to celebrate in New Orleans are piling up! Amidst this festive frenzy, The Idea Village is participating in history of its own. First Light Ventures is partnering with The Idea Village and its Entrepreneur Challenge Class of 2010 to launch Village Capital, a novel idea in the venture financing field that offers a new way to go about financing early-stage entrepreneurs.

The Idea Village -- which shares the role of testing the concept with other incubators in Mumbai, San Francisco, and Denver -- is an opportune launching environment because it provides a tightly-knit community of entrepreneurs in a city that attracting national attention as a focal point for bright young minds and as a catalyst for new ideas.

Instead of distributing the money directly to individual entrepreneurs, Village Capital provides a peer-selected investment and line-of-credit fund, which allows the entrepreneurs to organize the use of the funds amongst themselves. Together, the group of entrepreneurs decides both how to allocate the funds and who they should go to.

The concept behind Village Capital is grounded in the premise that the most informed, effective, and efficient distribution could come from the entrepreneurs themselves. After all, not only do they share knowledge about each other's businesses, but they also understand the intricacies of running a budding business and can thus more accurately analyze both the needs and the potential of their peers. In addition to gaining access to additional funding, Village Capital forces the entrepreneurs to sit on the other side of the investor's table, examining the proposals of their peers and thus furthering their own understanding of how to succeed in securing investment.

Watch First Light's Investment Analyst, Ross Baird, discuss the concept behind Village Capital:

Interviewing the Investors Behind Village Capital from Teju Ravilochan on Vimeo.

First on deck for the cohort of entrepreneurs to assess was Kyle Berner’s of Feelgoodz pitch to the group for $100,000 in short-term working capital. The pitch was a true entrepreneurial moment – the group was expecting to allocate the money later in the spring, but Kyle needed the money as soon as possible to finance growth as Feelgoodz expands to Whole Foods stores nationwide. Convincing the group to make the investment in his company sooner rather than later, Kyle secured the needed capital which he will repay within 6 months for the IVEC class to reinvest in another team member business.

Feeling that buzz of energy and innovation in New Orleans? The city’s entrepreneurs certainly are!

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