I came across an interesting company at the Web Ventures conference last week, although I'm still not sure if it has legs. Funding Universe offers a site for entrepreneurs to help them get funding. I've long felt that with the death of publications like Red Herring and Upside, there's a dearth of good resources for entrepreneurs. The new Red Herring, relaunched under new ownership, does not focus on entrepreneurs any more, which I think it should do.
Funding Universe offers weekly chats with angel investors, archives of documents that help educate you through the funding process, a service that rates your business plan as often as you like, the ability to upload documents and video for VCs to see, events with potential funders and consultations with funding experts. Most of the services are offered for a fee.
It takes a while for something like this to develop the credibility. There's a forum where entrepreneurs can post questions, supposedly sharing ideas and getting help from peers, but currently it's infected by people who sign up for the free service and spam it with services like home refinancing and phone cards. The organization needs to restrict forums to real entrepreneurial members. It will never get credibility unless it straightens this out.
There's a blog that's a bit more useful, but is weighted toward events and companies in Utah, where the company is based. Funding Universe wants to be a nationwide resource, helping people who do not reside in places like Silicon Valley.
It's a good idea. Entrepreneurs need a place where they can interact, exchange ideas an stories, find good information and resources, refer each other, and read useful articles. Maybe a members-only social network.
I talked with CEO Brick Blake at Web Ventures, and suggested some things he ought to have. Interviews with VCs, articles about funding trends, a place where entrepreneurs can rate VCs based on their experience, good advice columns from service providers such as lawyers, VCs, marketing experts, etc. He seemed interested. But the service still has a way to go and needs a little more sophistication to become really useful.