Thoughts on TechLift Cleveland

TechLift is a non-profit organization that helps out tech firms in Ohio. I went to an overview tonight.

This was the first time I’ve been around a bunch of venture capitalists. The first thing I realized when I got there was that I wasn’t wearing a suit, but everyone else was. I thought nobody wore suits anymore. Now I realize that everybody above a certain level of wealth still wears suits. And the people that want those people’s money still wear suits.

Anyhow, TechLift is interesting — one speaker described its purpose as getting firms ready to collect venture capital. TechLift takes in hundreds of applications, thins the pool down to a few dozen, invites them in for presentations, then picks about five firms and coaches them through the startup process. TechLift prefers to select companies that are already well-developed rather than ones with interesting ideas but incoherent business plans. In the business life cycle of imagining -> incubating -> demonstrating, TechLift focus on firms in the incubation stage.

Meanwhile, to reach out to those companies at the beginning, TechLift started the Idea Crossing site this year. That site is sort of like investment banking meets web 2.0. Startups describe themselves, and the site connects them to relevant mentors, investors, and service providers.

One speaker made a remark that I thought was clever:

It’s easy to forget that the goal was draining the swamp when you’re fighting the alligators.