Grow Your Business at the ITC’s Capital Connect Conference


by Malcolm Hong, ITC Project Manager (Original article can be found here on LinkedIn) 

For many entrepreneurs, raising capital is the most stressful part of getting a startup off the ground, but it’s also one of the most important. In fact, according to a Gompers and Lerner study, 90% of new ventures that can’t attract investors fail in the first three years. However, for Idahoans attempting to launch companies outside traditional tech hotbeds like Boston or Silicon Valley, raising capital can be a daunting process.   

In order for technology companies to start, grow, and thrive in Idaho, it is mission critical to help them locate funding sources and prepare for the rigorous process of becoming investor ready. That’s why the Idaho Technology Council (ITC) hosts its annual Capital Connect Conference, with this year’s event taking place this Wednesday, May 24th at BSU’s Stueckle Sky Center.  

The purpose of the Capital Connect Conference is to foster Idaho’s capital network. This event provides the following benefits to Idaho entrepreneurs:

·        Best practices on raising capital from seasoned entrepreneurs and investors

·        Opportunities for them to connect and cultivate relationships with capital providers and business leaders

·        Sources of capital as identified in the 2016 ITC Deal Flow Report, which highlights the business transactions that occurred in Idaho

·        Inspiration and awareness of new business opportunities, accomplished through the conference spotlighting Idaho’s top emerging companies

At this year’s conference, we are featuring three keynote speakers from highly successful Idaho companies:

Jessica Rolph, Founding Partner / Board Member of Happy Family

A serial entrepreneur, Jessica quit her day job in 2005 and launched her company with $20k and about half a million from family and friends. Despite growing pains common among startups, within five years, her company grew to having their products in over 14,000 retail stores with sales reaching $35 million. Today, Happy Family, a leading brand of organic baby and toddler food, has over $100 million in annual sales. Her company was honored as one of the fastest-growing companies in the US by Inc. Magazine for two years and was named as Fast Company’s 2012 “Rockstar of the New Economy.”

George Mulhern, CEO of Cradlepoint

George has a proven track record of leadership in Idaho’s tech community and keenly understands the challenges of raising capital. Some of the challenges for Cradlepoint included overcoming reluctance from venture capital firms to invest in a company outside Silicon Valley, especially a tech company with hardware components. However, George’s persistence and ability to communicate Cradlepoint’s value proposition ultimately paid off.George Mulhern, CEO of Cradlepoint

In April 2015, Cradlepoint closed a Series B round of $48 million growth equity funding from Sorenson Capital, with participation from Delta-v Capital and the CAPROCK Group. More recently this March, Cradlepoint announced receiving another $89 million from new investor TCV, which will support the company’s sales expansion and product development in advanced 4G and 5G wireless broadband, Software-Defined Networking (SDN), and enterprise Internet of Things (IoT).

Orville Thompson, CEO and Co-Founder of Scentsy

Orville’s leadership and entrepreneurial spirit has allowed him to take Scentsy from its humble beginnings to one of Idaho’s greatest success stories. When Orville and his wife Heidi bought Scentsy in 2004, it started in a humble basement. Through launching Scentsy as a direct selling company, guided on core values of Simplicity, Authenticity and Generosity, Scentsy quickly rose to become a global leader in home fragrance and direct selling.Orville Thompson, CEO and Co-Founder of Scentsy

In only a few years, Scentsy saw exceptional growth, bolstered through its multi-level, direct selling structure. In 2009, Scentsy expanded to Canada, marking the company’s expansion to all 50 States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Guam. That same year, Scentsy received the Direct Selling Association’s first Rising Star Award and was honored on Inc. 500’s list as the fastest-growing consumer products company in the US in 2010. In its first 10 years, Scentsy topped $2.2 billion in sales and today, Scentsy has products sold by more than 100,000 consultants in 11 countries.

Investor Panel

Aside from our keynote speakers, we also have an investor panel, moderated by Dr. Mark Rudin, Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Boise State University. This panel will be staffed from representatives of major investment firms, including the Angel Capital Association, Epic Ventures, Rubicon Capital, Sorenson Capital, and SVB. This panel is a great opportunity to gain candid insights from investors about best practices in fundraising and how to prepare to receive investment funds. We have several networking breaks lined up during the conference, so don’t miss out on your chance to personally connect with these investors.

Deal Flow Report

At the conference, the ITC also presents findings from its annual deal flow report, the only publication of its kind in Idaho. This report highlights private investments and merger acquisitions for Idaho companies and is a critical part of the ITC’s strategy to broaden Idaho’s access to capital. To attract additional sources of capital to our state, we need to demonstrate the activity level and opportunity that collectively exists in Idaho.   

Through creating transparency about deals and consolidating this information in one place, it’s easy to quickly gauge the quality and quantity of tech companies thriving in Idaho. The deal flow report encourages outside investment in Idaho and makes it easier for startups to identify funding sources. It also confirms what many of us already know – that Idaho is one of the best places in the country to do business!

Spotlighting Idaho Success Stories

Another exciting part of the Capital Connect Conference is hearing from emerging companies that are successful growing in Idaho. At the conference, each company will have a few minutes to talk about their company’s mission, unique value proposition, and next steps as they continue to grow their company.

At this year’s event, we’re pleased to hear from American Ostrich, American Semiconductor, AppDetex, Athlos Academies, Happy Family, Health Rosetta, IHT Inc., Killer Whey, LunchboxWax, Natural Intelligence Semiconductors, Silverback Learning Solutions, and Ventive. Despite the small size of our state, the level of ingenuity and innovation is exceptional among Idaho companies. You will walk away informed and inspired from our presenters this year.    

Invest In This Opportunity

The Capital Connect Conference is a unique opportunity to learn about the investment landscape in Idaho, meet future investors, and walk away with valuable business contacts. You may register here – be advised that pricing for the Capital Connect Conference increases by $10 on Monday, May 22nd.

Every venture capital firm and entrepreneur understands the importance of making good investments. If you’re interested in making an investment in yourself and your company, join us this Wednesday!