Lately there has been a lot of virtual ink spilled on the subject of so called “pay-to-pitch” events and organizations (including several angel groups). A lot of outrage and righteous indignation.
Paid conferences are not a great place to raise money. VCs – even angels – like to feel like they have made a unique “discovery.” That’s a major part of a VC’s job description, after all. Presenting at a conference implies you have exhausted your more selective avenues. The only time I have seen it work is when you explicitly say you are not looking for money.
But let’s reduce the controversy to its basic components: an entrepreneur is selling stock in a company, with a marketing budget. Nothing more.
If an entrepreneur spends $18,500 showing off their product at DEMO in hopes of pushing a deal closed, should we jump to their aid? If a VP Marketing spends $25,000 on an ad buy in hopes of filling a sales funnel, should we declare “jihad” (Jason Calacanis’s words) on Google Ad Words?
Luckily the the controversy has informed hundreds of first-time entrepreneurs that paying to pitch to angels is not the norm. There are plenty of other “service providers” out there waiting to charge them cash and equity for things that should be free!