RICK BRENNAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF CATARRA Inc., brims with belief in his product. It's a software platform that enables delivery of electronic content to handheld devices in a way that closely resembles what you'd see on your desktop computer.
Brennan eagerly demonstrates, for example, how he can fit an entire manual for a 737 airliner onto a memory stick for display on a handheld. His company currently is in negotiations with most of the major handheld manufacturers - Sony, Handspring, Palm, Nokia, Casio and Compaq - and Caterra's software could actually become a part of those brands' next generation of products.
But even for a company with seemingly great prospects, getting a second round of funding takes work, time and salesmanship.
In fact, Brennan calls the time he must devote to answering investors' questions a great "hidden cost" of business. It's more time-consuming to deal with a handful of VCs than it is to deal with a large number of potential customers," he says.
Caterra's need for funding is what drew Brennan and 23 other heads of companies to the 19th Annual Venture Capital in the Rockies conference in early March.
Just getting to the conference is an accomplishment; the 24 presenters were selected out of more than 100 business plans submitted to the selection committee.
Each company representative had eight minutes to talk about his or her firm in front of some 250 venture capitalists. "The purpose of your eight minutes isn't to sell people, it's to get them to come by and talk to you," said Brennan, who calls himself an old guy at 43. "And evidently we did OK at that."
In Catarra's case, the company is seeking $5.1 million. Brennan's eight minutes on stage led to discussions with at least 25 venture capitalists, many of whom were unaware until Brennan's presentation that the company is in negotiations with several handheld device makers.
The investment world has changed since Catarra closed its first round of funding - $3.3 million - back in November 2000, and since the days of Brennan's earlier startup experiences. He also was a key figure in the startups of Broomfield-based Requisite Technology and ZoomOn, a...