The latest Silicon Valley Viking event focused on current trends in entrepreneurial finance and was appropriately set at Babson College, one of the top ranked business schools for entrepreneurship in the world. The three expert panelists, Jacob Donnelly, Jon Thomas and Lili Balfour, came from a variety of financial backgrounds. Attendees had ample time for networking and were able to ask questions in an extensive Q&A session.
The evening’s discussion began with short introductions from each of the panelists and the moderator, Richard Bliss, a professor in Entrepreneurial Finance at Babson College. Professor Bliss prompted the panelists by asking their opinion on financial “bubbles” and in which sectors such bubbles may currently exist. Ms. Balfour responded, “there is lots of capital out there, it’s never been easier [for entrepreneurs], but that can be a negative… remember what happened in 2008.” Ms. Balfour warned entrepreneurs to think about long-term sources of capital. Mr. Thomas added that while software and cloud startups may have easy access to capital, other sectors do not and venture capitalists all invest in the same “hot area” due to the low startup costs of software companies.
As the discussion continued, the issue of crowdfunding was addressed. Professor Bliss echoed Ms. Balfour’s opinion on crowdfunding, “for venture capitalists or even angels, it’s almost like someone else is paying for market research.”
After a thorough discussion on crowdfunding, the panelists discussed the “drying up of the IPO market.” The panelists exchanged their opinions on the vitality of the IPO market. After this interchange, the moderator solicited questions from the audience.
The Q&A portion of the event covered a wide array of topics, including: the difficulties of expanding businesses over national boundaries; using incubators for large companies to gain access to innovative businesses, ideas, technology and talent; how best to fund B2B products; equity crowdfunding in Nordic regions; ideal sources of funding for early-stage companies; using grants for unconventional projects; how to properly structure a Board of Directors and other questions from the audience. The Q&A session lasted almost an hour and each question from the audience was addressed in detail from each of the panelists.
After the scheduled discussion, audience members had time to talk to the panelists one-on-one in a less formal setting.