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NMSU's Arrowhead Center sets up speed dates for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists

Searching for the right companion is tough, whether it's looking for a romantic partnership or even a business partnership. To help, New Mexico State University's Arrowhead Center wants to hook up technology entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the state during their event, Networking at the Speed of Technology, Oct. 20 at The Game Bar and Grill in Las Cruces.

"This really is a unique opportunity," said Dawn Hommer, a business incubation specialist for the Arrowhead Center. "It's not easy to get an audience with venture capitalists. This kind of meeting can also be very intimidating, so we really want to be proactive in helping these companies."

Technology companies selected will have a chance to personally present an abbreviated version of their business plans and capital needs to leading venture capital representatives. The event's format will be much like the popular speed dating where companies will have three minutes to make their pitch and the venture capitalists will have two minutes to ask questions. Then a bell rings, and each company must move on to the next venture capitalist. An informal networking event with the participants and the general public will immediately follow the speed dates.

The deadline for companies wanting to take part is Sept. 10. Selected companies must attend two mandatory workshops from 8-10:30 a.m. Sept. 23 and Oct. 14 at the Small Business Development Center. The workshops are designed to help applicants refine their pitches and build confidence in their ideas. Full submission guidelines and application forms are available online at http://arrowhead.nmsu.edu/arrowheadcenter/techstart/venture-capitalist-speed.html.

"One thing companies will definitely walk away with is feedback, which is incredibly valuable," said Chris Keintz, director of innovation for Arrowhead Center's TECHSTART, which helps incubate technology companies. "Whether it's a good idea or a bad idea, whether the idea could be restructured in a certain way, these companies will find out during their meeting with these venture capitalists."

The event is sponsored by Arrowhead's TECHSTART Technology Incubator, in partnership with the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance, the New Mexico Small Business Development Center and Arrowhead Center's Entrepreneurship Institute.