A Publication of WTVP

When most people think of successful start-up companies, they often remember the entrepreneurs behind them. Certainly companies like Apple and Microsoft would be vastly different companies, if they became companies at all, without the guidance of brilliant entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Idea people often get the lion’s share of the credit for a business’ success, but there is a group of individuals whose absence would make successful entrepreneurship impossible. Without the help of start-up capital from investors, even the greatest ideas would fail to see the light of day.

One group in particular, angel investors, are an integral part of the technology commercialization process. The nature of this kind of start-up requires an above-average risk. Most of these ideas have never been implemented with a business model, a risky proposition for most. Angel investors differ slightly from venture capital investors because they typically invest their own money directly into the company as opposed to contributing to a managed pool of funds.

As one of the primary strategic goals of Peoria NEXT, we have worked hard to attract new investment capital to central Illinois. It might surprise many to know that we now have venture capital firms and angel investors located right here in the Peoria area. No longer fixated on locations like Silicon Valley, these investors have come to realize the potential of research and development hot spots like the Peoria area. This new influx of investment has allowed numerous technology commercialization ventures to sprout up across the region, some finding a home in the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center.

Peoria NEXT has also found ways to attract firms which are not yet ready to move to Peoria. Through programs like NEXT Steps, angel and venture capital investors have an opportunity to come to Peoria for one day and listen to start-ups pitch their business plans and receive feedback and even investment offers. This unique event limits companies to a 10-minute presentation during which they must attempt to discuss the most relevant information an investor would want to know.

Building on the success of NEXT Steps, we are beginning a new program called Fast Pitch. Similar to NEXT Steps, businesses have an opportunity to present plans, but the time limit is reduced to three minutes, maximizing the time and number of start-ups investors can discover. We will begin the Fast Pitch competition shortly after the beginning of the new year. If you would like to be added to the Peoria NEXT e-newsletter, please contact [email protected]. IBI