VentureCapital.Org was originally known as the Technology Innovation Center by Dr. Wayne Brown and Bradley Bertoch. It was renamed Wayne Brown Institute® after Dr. Wayne Brown died unexpectedly in 1988. Dr Brown, the former Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Utah and founder/co-founder of multiple investor-backed companies, including Kenway Engineering (HK Systems), TerraTek (Schlumberger), Native Plants (Agridyne Technologies). As a leading authority in technological innovation and entrepreneurship/commercialization, Dr. Brown led the launch of the Utah Innovation Center (the world’s first venture accelerator/incubator), now VentureCapital.Org, and served as co-architect with Roland Tibbitts of the U.S. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
In addition, Dr. Brown led Utah’s State Science Council where he spearheaded legislation to create the Utah Technology Finance Corporation (now Innoventures) and Utah’s Centers of Excellence program (now TCIP), while also successfully negotiating with the U.S. government to obtain military land for the establishment of the University of Utah’s Research Park. VCO Board members created Utah Ventures (now Pelion Partners, Utah’s first venture fund), SLC Angels, Salt Lake Life Science Angels, and the Park City Angels which is one of three most active angel groups in the country. VCO’s expertise was integral in the creation of Zions Bank’s venture debt program, the Salt Lake County venture debt fund revolving loan fund, and the MountainLands Revolving Loan Fund.
The VentureCapital.Org mission is to improve the human condition through technological entrepreneurship by helping new entrepreneurs create the next generation of industry leading companies.
Our vision is to empower emerging and diverse entrepreneurs to create technologically and commercially sustainable companies that increase high-quality jobs and new economic opportunities in under-served regions of the US.
Formed in 1983 as an educational 501(c)3 non-profit, VentureCapital.Org (or VCO®) was the first venture accelerator and has become the most efficient, cost-effective economic development organization in the United States.
We do two things really well: 1) We pick potential winners, 2) We turn those potential winners into winners through our powerful mentoring program. According to a third-party study, 70% of VCO alumni companies raise capital and 80% are still in business after 10 years.
VCO continues the legacy begun by Dr. Brown by educating entrepreneurs and company executives through its Cooperative Venturing® program, mentor-based training in the art and science of becoming attractive, viable investment-worthy companies, the essence of commercialization.
To date, VentureCapital.org has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs, with over 850 companies participating in the organization’s annual Investors Choice® Capital Conference, the oldest venture capital conference in the U.S. Held each February, Investors Choice attracts hundreds of Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors, and Strategic Investors to Utah for the opportunity to hear the investment pitches of dozens of vetted and mentored firms seeking outside capital.
On average over the last 5 years 60%+ of companies at this event have raise capital by year’s end, and the total has been $40+ million. Since 2009, VCO alumni companies have realized over $10 billion in investor payouts via M&A Public Offering transactions, including such firms such as Omniture, Sonic Innovations, Myriad Genetics, and Ancestry, High West Distillery among others.
And on a national basis, VentureCapital.org has launched tech commercialization programs in Alabama, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, New York, and Texas.
Programs and Services
All VC.org programs are designed to assist companies in 1) Shaping themselves into fundable entities, 2) Helping them develop a strategy to obtain the funding they need; and when appropriate, and 3) Providing introductions to the investment and/or banking communities. Listed below are VentureCapital.org’s ongoing programs:
The VentureCapital.Org mentor program is the core engine behind our The Deal Forum®, WeROC® (Women Entrepreneurs Realizing Opportunities for Capital), and Investors Choice® pitch events. Startups that are selected to participate are assigned a 5-8 person mentor team that consists of entrepreneurs, investors, and service providers. Teams meet 1-1.5 hours over a 4-10 weeks period to advise the entrepreneurs on 1) how to effectively deliver their investor presentation, and 2) developing strategies to commercialize and scale.
Educational Seminars assist entrepreneurs better understand the nuances in raising capital including setting up the capitalization table properly, the difference between Convertible Notes and SAFE Agreements, term sheet mechanics, & alternate sources of financing. Every seminar is different as there is always new content provided by new people. We always include subject matter experts like serial entrepreneurs, attorneys, finance providers, investors, and marketing professionals who have deep knowledge in growing venture backed companies.
Provides a very unique opportunities for higher education students to learn about Venture Capital, develop real experience evaluating investment opportunities, and growing their network of investors and executives. Our interns get a first-hand look at what it takes to be an entrepreneur and resources available along the way. Interns also get exposure to many service providers and can be helpful in thinking about careers in varying fields.
Program is a pitch event designed for companies in the seed to series A stage and features 4-5 startups. Startups are mentored for 4-6 weeks leading up to The Deal Forum®. Each company is provided 10 minutes to present to a panel of angel and venture investors provided by 20 minutes of Q&A. It is followed by a networking session with light food and drinks.
The WeROC® Conference Program
highlights issues women-founded and led companies face, such as access to capital and how to overcome those roadblocks. It includes several keynote speakers and panelists that have recent experience working through these issues including founders, investors, and service providers. The program includes a Deal Forum® pitch event where 6-8 women-led startups present to a panel of angel and venture investors. Each will have 10 minutes to present and 20 minutes for Q&A. Companies range from seed to series B stage and receive 4-8 weeks of mentoring. The program ends with a networking session.
features up to 30 companies seeking capital; most companies are in the late-seed to series B stage. Companies are mentored 6-12 weeks in all; they have the opportunities to present to a panel of angel and venture investors 3-4 weeks ahead of the conference where they will receive critical feedback. Companies present at the conference in 2 tracks followed by a lunch. Lunch includes a keynote that will raise awareness of regional factors that will impact future startup and investment activity. It also includes updates on VentureCapital.Org and its program. We feature 2 educational panels as well as a number of networking events as part of the conference.