Will you bet on VenCorps?

The VenCorps machine has been ramping up lately and it got a further injection of excitement with some posts in the last week.

The premise of VenCorps is this: You record a video of your “pitch” and upload it. The “crowd”, that is the Vencorps community, then votes and chooses some winners. Those winners then go on to be vetted in a traditional investment process involving angels and other sources of funding. Chosen startups then get some amount of funding.

VenCorps isn’t the only new Canadian video-pitches-for-financing site to launch, fundfinder.com, which also connects your pitch to a “crowd” of would-be investors. The difference being that VenCorps uses the Cambrian House software to help manage the selection/voting process. The end result however (videos of startups pitching) looks quite similar.

We first covered Vencorps in January and at that time we were told that they would be making more announcements at the end of the month, but it seems to have taken almost 5 more months to see any sort of public activity. This is no doubt the result of some of the problems Cambrian House has been having.

I decided to poke around and, as you might have guessed, I managed to find some differing opinions. Overwhelmingly, from community members to current and former employees, the sense is that this is truly a last stand for Cambrian House, and had Sean Wise not come along with money from Spencer Trask, that things would look a lot different right now.

One of the overwhelming reactions I did get was that Cambrian House CEO Michael Sikorsky is a brilliant guy who took this thing as far as anyone could have. I think we need to applaud Michael and the entire team for doing something worth doing here in Canada. I have no doubt Michael will be back with something great again.

So the question I have is: Will you bet on VenCorps? Will the best startups in the Canada, and the world, flock to VenCorps to pitch themselves? Will there be enough investors and money to make it attractive?

I think it is possible for this to work. It takes guts to attempt something like this.

However, the model has failed a few times already, Cambrian House has proven that it has serious flaws, so VenCorps is going to have to do more than just re-apply that model with a more direct financing spin on it. In a video that Cambrian House recently posted (included below), they say that VenCorps will focus more on teams than on ideas, and that the lack of focus on teams was one of the downfalls of Cambrian House.

The thought that lingers in the back of my mind is whether or not VenCorps should have attached themselves to Cambrian House or not? My gut reaction was a big No, but you have to weigh that against the fact that the Cambrian House crew have probably learned a few things about community building in the last couple of years.

Will you pitch on VenCorps?

TSX Venture Exchange Entrepreneurial Bootcamp

 tsx-bootcampModerated by Sean Wise, Wise Mentor Capital

Decide if Public Venture Capital (PVC) is right for you. TSX Venture Exchange’s Entrepreneurial Bootcamp is tailored for CEOs and CFOs of aggressive growth companies considering raising capital from the PVC marketplace over the next few years. This workshop will explore the use of PVC as a growth tool for emerging companies.

Topics include:

  • How to decide if going public is right for your company
  • The Capital Pool Company® (CPC) Program
  • Picking the best and most cost-effective advisors
  • How to pitch for public capital
  • Why PVC may work when private VCs are not interested or an attractive option

Register, Cost: $65.00

What: TSX Venture Exchange Entrepreneurial Bootcamp
Cost: $65.00 Moderated by Sean Wise, Wise Mentor Capital For more information please contact: Debbie Bamforth, TSX Venture Exchange, at (416) 947-4411 or [email protected]
When: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 1:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Where: MaRS Centre

101 College Street, Auditorium B
Toronto, ON   Canada