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finance offers operating companies the capability to search for more tradi-
tional growth financing, such as loans, equipment lease financing, and
factoring.
www.angeldeals.com. An outgrowth from the Venturepreneurs Network,
Angeldeals serves the Northeastern United States. Originally conceived to as-
sist in funding early-stage deals, Angeldeals is now an online resource net-
work for entrepreneurs seeking funding, consultants seeking clients, and
people seeking jobs. The site claims an online mechanism to connect entre-
preneurs with private investors and venture capitalists.
www.vfinance.com. vfinance offers an online search service for venture cap-
italists and angels. Visitors can post their business plan, and the site publishes
venture capital data. The site claims to attract deal flow for investor-client
consideration, and therefore provides some level of brokerage services.
www.mincorp.org. The Minnesota Investment Network started in 1998
after being capitalized by Minnesota Technology Inc. MINCORP is a com-
munity development venture capital fund. Its goal is to provide equity capi-
tal to Minnesota companies while focusing on growth companies that have
the potential to both grow revenues and ROI and create jobs in the region.
www.localfund.com. Localfund functions much like a portal and offers ac-
cess to regional capital sources through its central database site. Localfund
has affiliate groups located across the United States that host networks in
their respective geographic regions.
www.tcnmit.com. Technology Capital Network is a not-for-profit service or-
ganization that connects start-ups and high-growth companies to potential
investors through a confidential web-based listing service. TCN claims ac-
credited investors with special interest in early-stage companies. This organ-
ization is subscription based, and is not a broker or investment adviser.
www.venturevest.com. VentureVest Capital Corporation offers a matching
service called VentureVest Angel Network that claims to bring together angel
investors from the Rockies and Southwest with emerging companies seeking
additional capital to achieve corporate goals.
www.capmatch.com. Capmatch is an online matching service for entrepre-
212 RESOURCES FOR ENTREPRENEURS RAISING CAPITAL


neurs and angel investors. Investors can search for investment opportunities
and browse short entrepreneur-prepared elevator pitch summaries. Investors
contact entrepreneurs if they are interested.
www.capitalsearch.net. The Capital Solutions Network through the Venture
Cast program offers a web-marketing application to showcase ventures
to investors via the Internet and e-mail. Capital Search claims to be a re-
source for entrepreneurs and investors to joint venture on projects of mutual
interest.
www.privateequity.com. PrivateEquity is a portal offering a wide range of
links that provide resources for companies raising capital. The resource types
included are capital, service providers, search firms, investment bankers, and
education resources.
www.businesspartners.net. Business Partners is a nationwide Internet-based
listing service connecting potential partners, angel investors, investment
bankers, and venture capital firms with start-ups, businesses, and entrepre-
neurs. Its service to its members include, among other things, a full listing
search, private and federal grant searches, business incubator searches, busi-
ness partnering, business buyers and sellers, and business consultants.
www.ventureseek.com. Venture Seek currently has ten investors on its site.
This resource is for entrepreneurs seeking capital and funding for start-ups
and growth companies. The site claims a secure and easy-to-use online ap-
plication for entrepreneurs to showcase ventures to potential investors, ven-
ture capitalists, and angels. The visitor creates a listing providing a brief
overview of investment parameters. Investors™ profiles are also provided with
an anonymous code number to determine their investment criteria before
listing your venture.
www.acenet.csusb.edu. ACENET is currently undergoing a restructuring.
The SBA, in concert with securities regulatory agencies and with guidance
from investment organizations, created ACENET. ACENET claims to be a
service that posts the securities offerings of small, growing companies that
can be viewed anonymously by accredited investors, especially those inter-
ested in woman- or minority-owned companies. In 2000, the SBA approved
the privatization of ACENET Network operators, and ACENET became an
independent not-for-profit.


FINANCIAL INTERMEDIARIES

Refer to the Corporate Finance Sourcebook listing in this chapter under the
heading “directories,” or browse www.icrnet.com.
10
CHAPTER

Building Your Own Database
of Angel Investors

INTRODUCTION

New technology comes bundled with steep learning curves. As one story
goes, during the 12th century reign of Henry II, forks made their first ap-
pearance in England, much to the bewilderment of all the nobles at court.
Unsure of what forks were and how to use them, those gathered at dinner
that first night pondered the matter a good while, then finally figured it
out”or so they thought. No longer hesitant, England™s nobility vigorously
proceeded to poke each other in the eyes.
So we have in extremis the consequences of unleashing the latest tech-
nology on the uninitiated. To be sure, setting up a highly sophisticated com-
puter program is far less painful than the jab of a fork in the eye; still, the
irritation and torment of the former can be sizable. For many, there remains
hardly anything more mystifying than using a computerized relational data-
base. Even with the help of experts, pitfalls await. In particular, entrepre-
neurs going it alone need to understand what they are in for. What skills will
they need to master to build a database? What technical expertise will ensure
that information so painstakingly gained is not lost”information gathered
from an alternative funding network, an individual search effort, or a finan-
cial intermediary?
But first, the question: What is a relational database? A relational data-
base consists of data from which relationships among various pieces of in-
formation can be established, allowing the user of the database to look for
specific fields, either individually or in combination. These fields”names, ad-
dresses, investment criteria, and so on”make up individual records; multiple
records make up a database file. A relational database connects these fields”
pieces of data”from the various records to target particular markets the user
wishes to reach. The user might want to assemble all individuals within a spe-
cific income level living in a particular zip code area. In a relational database,
the end user can pluck any combination of fields from any combination of
records, enabling him or her to relate only the desired information.

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214 RESOURCES FOR ENTREPRENEURS RAISING CAPITAL


Relational databases replace old-fashioned databases, those composed
of so-called flat files, tediously rigid sets of information. Similar to relational
databases, traditional databases offer only whole records, but the various
fields within those records cannot be isolated and then joined with matching
fields from other records in the database. The whole record is pulled, or
nothing is pulled at all. The telephone book is a nonrelational database. In
using it, the address cannot be pulled separately from the name and then re-
lated electronically to its counterpart in other areas of the telephone book.
This example illustrates the value of a relational database.
The strengths of a relational database, as we have indicated, lie in the
ease of accessing data. A relational database allows the user to better tar-
get a specific audience. The user can pick out with a keystroke or two only
those fields desired. People can be selected by preferred investment size
or by last name. In a relational database, all information is incorporated
within one big file and all fields or records can be related within that file, in-
dexed, or grouped in any number of ways, depending again on the objective
of the search.


HURDLES
Database expert Don Siebert, who built ICR™s relational database, warns of
the problems even experienced database managers face in establishing a
database for the end user. Setting up fields in each record is only the first
among the tasks awaiting someone about to embark on the murky electron-
ics of database development. There is no margin for error. Even very sophis-
ticated relational database programs are unforgiving. For example, a field
containing “Smith, Jr.” can precipitate problems. No comma is allowed, for
example, in a program that uses the comma to delimit fields (i.e., to tell the
database program where one field ends and the next field begins); thus, the
comma cannot be used as it is used in normal punctuation. Even where there
is no information in a particular field, the comma must still appear so that
the program can determine that a field is blank. The program looks at a
comma and reads a new field. Otherwise, all fields move forward: A city ap-
pears in a state field, a state field appears in a zip code field, and so on.
Missing commas furnish scrambled information. Missing only one such
technicality makes the entire database useless.
Another hurdle to leap may involve the database application itself.
Siebert spent 100 to 150 hours becoming familiar with Access, one of the
better-known computer-generated relational database programs, a program
that sports “Wizards,” a feature that purports to help the user set up the
database more easily. The Wizards are supposed to lead the user through the
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Building Your Own Database of Angel Investors


steps necessary to create a query. (A query enables the user to search repeat-
edly for designated categories of information among all the records.) By set-
ting up queries, the user can search the database, automatically accessing the
desired information. And if the same set of information is likely to be re-
quired often, template queries can be established within the program. The
user normally would not want all the fields of all the records for every mail-
ing but may consistently want the same fields from different records for sep-
arate mailings. Also, there are additional types of queries, such as ICR™s
ability to copy records from one table to another table, a feature essential for
exporting information to its mailing, fax, and e-mail distribution lists. Fine
and necessary though they are, queries take some study.
Using one of these more sophisticated packages can become extremely
difficult. Without computer experience and database experience, an individ-
ual can get swamped quickly. Often the user has to reach beyond the manu-
als provided in the database package. Even finding the right third-party
manual is a challenge. Each of the best-selling database application programs
has generated dozens of manuals written to explain what is often impossible
to decipher in the database company™s user manual. The best way to shop for
third-party manuals is to enter a bookstore with a few questions in mind. If
you find the answer in one of the choices on the bookshelves”and under-
stand what it says”odds are you have a decent book to work with. The
quest for clarity has spawned an entire industry of third-party manuals, most
notably the “For Dummies” series.
Too often, however, third-party books themselves offer little relief.
Many are written by techies or programmers in a language that does not
translate well into layperson™s terms”repeating one of the problems the user
faced in the first place. In addition, the reader may have to catch on to pro-
prietary terminology: One company™s nomenclature may not match an-
other™s, so the same thing is called by two different names. It becomes the
reader™s task to match the different terminology.
Once a person has selected a program, he or she still faces the formida-
ble task of designing a database that fits specific needs. These programs sup-
ply designs that may turn out to be either too generic or, in some cases, too
narrow. It is left to the user to map out a working design. And for the novice,
trying to map a snug fit gets tough.
Cardinal rule number one, claims Siebert, is having patience and fore-
sight: patience in setting up a database, foresight in knowing what you want
your end result to be. “You have to know precisely what you want to do with
your database,” he cautions. “Having to redesign fields within the structure
of a database creates even greater problems than creating the original design.
You really have to give your design some forethought”setting up fields, set-
ting up how things relate. And then you have to take a step back.”
216 RESOURCES FOR ENTREPRENEURS RAISING CAPITAL


The better-known programs provide ways to change things, such as a
field name. But if a user follows the program™s method of changing the field
name, all references to it must also change. When a field name changes, noth-
ing refers to that field anymore, so all queries and all tables must reflect that
change. If a user just dives in, he or she will get only so far, and then . . . trou-
ble. Thus, only a full understanding of the program™s potential precludes a
setup that needs revamping.
This problem arises in particular in a business setting. “When I first sat
down with the people at ICR,” recalls Siebert, “and we talked about what
they wanted, they didn™t realize everything they could get out of it. They
wanted to change their emphasis halfway through the project. Fair enough.
It was just a matter of not knowing fully what a relational database can do.
When I installed the program, they began to appreciate its potential. I was
able to go back and make it do what they wanted it to do. Now they™re really
set. Any competent mail house or professional using it to manage a telephone
campaign is going to be able to take their disk and give them just what they
want. The point is that you can™t be afraid to try things, whether it™s filtering
for a particular piece of information or whatever. You have to be able to just
go for it. But you can go for it only when you understand fully what the pro-
gram can do.”
For example, with its custom-made program, ICR can designate in what
order the cursor will move, allowing the user to avoid stepping through the
fields according to the program™s original design. This enables the user to
jump from selected field to selected field because certain fields are used more
than others. The cursor can jump in the order selected by the user. It is pos-
sible, of course, to buy a preset package, basically a sales-contact kit, but it is
likely not to fit well. The whole purpose of a relational database is to make
sure it fits the user™s needs. Otherwise, why bother?
Another cardinal rule is understanding that a relational database is de-
signed to save time, not cost time. If you have the time and the inclination,
you can do it yourself. If you do not, either suffer through with a packaged
program or hire someone who can design it specifically for your needs. After
all, people rooted to the database are supposed to be in the field collecting
names or contacting people in the database for introductions, research, or
whatever. The big weakness in setting up a relational database is that unless
you know what you are doing”that is, in designing anything beyond a basic
contact list”a database really is simply not worth your time. People trying
to get the attention of private investors had better have more than a list for
putting on labels and sending out Christmas cards. So stick with your forte.
Stick with what you are supposed to be doing. Remember why you are in
business.
Finally, a person setting up things on his or her own may not only invite
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Building Your Own Database of Angel Investors


problems but become overwhelmed. Nowadays the user has to be familiar
with variations in hardware, the computer™s operating system, and the fine
points of the application program. He or she has to know which is doing
what”for example, which functions Windows is handling and which func-
tions are performed by the database application. Exhibit 10.1 pinpoints
what is involved in the setup of a computerized relational database.


DATA ENTRY

One such overwhelming task is data entry, the ongoing, accurate collection
of information. Again, everything has to be just so”using only the standard
abbreviations for states, for example. In gathering data entry information,
the source must be readable; names from napkins dampened at lunch by the
bottom of a wet glass are of little use. With legible sources of information,
the user can hire data entry personnel. Without readable sources, the user
loses valuable time”time that could be used in getting on with the real task

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