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Keiretsu Forum

Firm Rating:

Rated 1.9 / 5.0 by 46
Track
Record
1.7
Operating
Competence
1.8
Pitching
Efficiency
2.1
Favorable
Deal Terms
1.9
Execution
Assistance
1.8

Firm Homepage:

FIRM OVERVIEW: Very Small Angels based out of Lafayette, (US West)

TEAM MEMBERS: Randy Williams,

5
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Some Additional Experience...

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by Anonymous on 2011-04-20

PUBLIC:

I knew nothing about these folks when they contacted me about pitching to their group in New York for an upcoming CEO Presentation. Even though I had just closed on a round of funding you always hesitate turning down a chance to pitch for the next opportunity down the road. Regretfully I did not check this site for a review.
I should have known better from the name - which is so 80's - back when Japan was the business equivalent of Godzilla.

The good news if there is good news is I made the preliminary presentation via webex. I as kept waiting for 45 minutes and then told that I had only 15 minutes - 10 for presentation & 5 for questions instead of the 25 that i had been promised. No problem, I can pitch in 10. Did the best I could in 10 minutes with the deck that had just recently won me my most recent round of money. At the end of the pitch I was told how bad the presentation was and how it needed "serious work" and that there were people on the call that could help. I am in no way claiming my pitch is perfect - no one's presentation ever is - but this was over the top. It began to feel like an old time aluminum siding sale - one guy is in the front yard commanding your attention while the other ones are in the back creating damage in order to sell you something you don't necessarily need. Sure enough one of the group who is in Investor relations/PR sent me an email about his services and how he might be able to help "tweak" the company. No one has asked form money yet in order to present but I am expecting that soon. steer clear.

PRIVATE: Members Only

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Keiretsu

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by Anonymous on 2010-11-12

PUBLIC:

Only bottom 10% of all start-up founders should actually pay them money to pitch.

PRIVATE: Members Only (211 Characters)

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Who is Doing the Pitching to Whom?

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by How_Matters on 2010-10-06

PUBLIC:

I got referred to our regional chapter and had heard all the bad reps about these angel groups. But the personal referral (an experienced entrepreneur) said to at least give it a try - that the Keiretsu folks had a better track record than the others and he personally knew of a large successful funding that came out of it. Now, I really believe in the emphatic warning to all of us entrepreneurs: Don't Pay to Pitch!! But the pre-screening was free and since I like experiencing things first-hand, we gave it a try. The red flags started before we got to the pre-screening pitch meeting when the screener (young MBA) kept questioning our valuation and asking if we could go lower. Odd, since he knew nothing about our company or market or competition yet.

The pre-screening pitch went fine - I thought the questions (from the 10 or so investor attendees) were thoughtful and presented in a friendly, clear manner. But another red flag popped up that morning - as I was listening to the forum investors introduce themselves, I noticed that of the six intros I heard, ALL of them were active in firms that provided services to tech companies: an IP attorney, a PR firm owner, a tech staff placement agency, an international advisory firm, hmmm...

Sure enough, the four people who followed up with me afterwards were after MY BUSINESS - two of them set up meetings under the guise of wanting to know more about my firm, only to pitch me on THEIR services.

Well, we actually "made it" past the screening and were selected as one of the 4 firms to present at the monthly regional road show to all their investors. All I needed to do was send in my check for $6,000. Can you guess my response :)

I recently mentioned my unfortunate experience to one of the regional leaders and they were shocked and genuinely sincere in wanting to make changes so that doesn't happen again. To be fair, I'll post again to update any progress I hear about.

PRIVATE: Members Only

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What a Waste

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by Anonymous on 2010-07-02

PUBLIC:

We pitched two keiretsu chapters in SoCal. The $1500 fee was thankfully waived. It would have been very upsetting to part with $1500 on this crew. The attendees were poorly screened. In both cases it seemed that 2/3 the crowd were either lookee loos or professional services folks (e.g. lawyers or CPAs) looking for business. They gave us 10 minutes to pitch and 10 minutes of questions. The questions were for the most part unsophisticated or just plain annoying. One guy, an IP attorney, monopolized everyone's time asking pointless questions on arcane points of IP law. The average age was probably around 60 - I have nothing against folks this age, but if you are pitching a IT play or anything with targeted at a youthful demographic you are probably wasting your time. Afterwards, the entrepreneurs were shooed out of the room while the "investors" conferred. We were then invited back in for networking. The organizers did nothing at this point to facilitate discussion. It was a free-for-all and we found ourselves buttonholed by people who wanted to share lame comments or questions.

PRIVATE: Members Only

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Apply the "Mom" Test to These Folks

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by engineer on 2010-01-25

PUBLIC:

As a guest I attended a few of these meetings, and followed through with some of the companies pitching. Each of the meetings I attended at least one of the companies got funded. So 1/5 or 2/5 closed some money in each of the meetings. I pitched and was not successful.

In hindsight the advice I can offer is this: If you have a technology play, keep it very very very simple, or seriously consider not going. Probably 95% of the members have the computer and mobile phone sophistication of my 79 year old mother. I am not being sarcastic with this. For her age my mom is great with these things, but she isn’t the person that can evaluate a technology driven startup.

They do have some experts for mobile, computer, etc. but there are only a couple of them in the room. The rest are simply not in a position to make a financial decision if your product is very technical.

PRIVATE: Members Only

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Suing Jason Calacanis for Complaining about Fees...

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by Anonymous on 2009-10-09

PUBLIC:

One of the most common complaints among entrepreneurs is the high fees that Keiretsu Forum charges entrepreneurs to pitch. Jason Calacanis, an admittedly controversial entrepreneur, spoke out against the high fees. Now, it appears that the Keiretsu Forum is suing him.

As a multiple time founder, I would be happy to pay a small fee to pitch, maybe $100 or even $250. I understand that it costs money to run these groups, and the investors should not have to pick up 100% of the costs. However, charging a few thousand dollars to pitch in a room with vendor tables is unreasonable.

If you need to have an economic model, then charge annual membership fees to each of the investors and still have vendor tables. Don't take what little money entrepreneurs have.

PRIVATE: Members Only

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Spend Your Company's Money, Time and Energy Elsewhere

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by Anonymous on 2009-09-29

PUBLIC:

My company had a bad experience with Keiretsu Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. I would advise to spend your money on the fundraising efforts elsewhere.

In my opinion, the more experienced and respectable K4 members/investors tend to want to take a back seat throughout the due diligence process at K4. The ones who want to do due diligence have their own agenda. They mainly want to "schmooze" with other members and gain visibility. They often do not understand that their decision to lead a part of the due diligence process has a tremendous impact on the ability of the company to raise money through K4 and/or they treat the candidate companies as the means to their own goals (networking, etc.) Before you announce to the interested K4 members that a certain member will lead any part of your due diligence, make sure that the lead has started companies in the past and/or realizes how difficult fundraising can be for a company. Also, look for people who are realistic and understand that there is no perfect companies. If your DD lead freaks out over the smallest issue then your chances of raising money through K4 are close to nill.

Additionally, you need to realize that, to the K4 staff, your company is not important after you paid the fee to present. Yet the members are very important to the staff, because members are the source of recurring revenue. As the result, you will get treated as an annoyance by the staff. K4 staff is mostly composed of interns, who are not compensated, hence, do not expect neither knowledge nor experience from the staff. For instance, the new Entrepreneurial Director of K4 Bay Area is an inexperienced recent college grad.

Furthermore, as a company you get screened a few times before presenting. Members sign a paper saying that they are accredited investors, yet no one checks their status. K4 staff will not disclose whether a member ever invested before. Hence, members are not screened at all. This opens the door to people with agendas other than investing. These people to gain access to the companys' confidential info. I had to deal with a member who joined K4 to learn enough about startups to either start his own or to join a VC later. Moreover, you will be pursued and distracted by "members" who are trying to sell you their service and will sign up for due diligence to get more opportunities to market to you.

PRIVATE: Members Only

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Not All Keiretsu's are Created Equal

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by Scott Rouser on 2009-06-16

PUBLIC:

These forums are only as good as the deals and the investors who participate. The Forum in Denver does, in my opinion, a good job of creating an angel investor marketplace and has funded a number of deals in the last two years. It does not charge to pitch and I would recommend it.

PRIVATE: Members Only (64 Characters)

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Decided Not to Pitch...

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by 2bStealthy on 2009-04-13

PUBLIC:

$6K is a lot of money to get in front of angels in this economy. Just can't justify it...

PRIVATE: Members Only (205 Characters)

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Angels" Do They Know the Meaning of It"

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by Anonymous on 2008-10-25

PUBLIC:

We were approached by this forum for pitching.

However, when we inquired more about their model, we were explicitly told that we must have: (a) our product ready and (b) at least one customer waiting to buy it. If a company gets to this stage, then why should it approach this bunch of clowns for a fee" Do they know what is meant by angels" Aren't VCs around if you have come up so far on your own or with friend & family or with some other mode of help"

But, hey....you will see a lot of angelers (service providers) at their meeting! Nice business model. After you collect so much free money from cash-strapped start-ups, anybody can be a investor!

Is it ethical"

"Angels" .....Hell NO!

PRIVATE: Members Only

13
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A Motivational Speaker Seminar is a Better Deal

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by ivanivanobrockovich on 2008-09-02

PUBLIC:

I was introduced to them by a colleague and friend. I have been pitched relentlessly on paying to pitch ever since then.

I have been around for a while. Anyone who charges you to present to be considered for investment is simply ripping you off, just like the sleazebags who charge people to attend a seminar on how to profit from the foreclosure business. Do not recommmend!

Maybe they mean well, but why pay for the privilege of pitching to a roomfull of pickled amateur investors"

PRIVATE: Members Only

10
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Danger Will Robinson! Danger!

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by bamboo on 2008-06-25

PUBLIC:

A joke of a group.

Avoid! Avoid! Avoid!

PRIVATE: Members Only (574 Characters)

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They Don't Design Their Process for Web 2.0 Companies

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by anonymous on 2008-05-01

PUBLIC:

We submitted our plan and heard back that they would only be interested once we had a level of users and a level of revenue that would make the kind of funding they could offer us unhelpful- i.e. there would be no point along our growth trajectory even if we are indeed successful that Keiretsu could help us given these limitations. I think they probably do quite well for old-school, traditional businesses. I just think they're working in a paradigm in which a future facebook, a future youtube or a future Twitter would not get relevant kinds of funding opportunities at any stage of their growth.

PRIVATE: Members Only

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Careful of New Members

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by twist on 2008-04-22

PUBLIC:

I've been to a number of angel organizations and they rank as one of the better run. The meetings were organized, well attended, and presentations were, on the whole well done.

My suggestion is that if you're curious attend one of their meetings when a company in the same field as yours is presenting an update. You'll learn a lot about the level of expertise in the room.

You don't have to pay until you get to the final round. Would I pay, probably not, very few ever get funded, and those that do rarely receive what they need.

On the downside their 'review' teams can be random, rarely expert about your field, sometimes new, and have huge chips on their shoulders, either from failed invsestments in the past or just ego. So, if you do decide to pitch to them, go in knowing what you're getting in to, ask to know the people you will be pitching to and their backgrounds, and look at the actual funding levels of their companies, and what portion of the asked amount was funded. Just relax and take away what you can.

PRIVATE: Members Only

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You Have Got to Be Kidding!

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by Anonymous on 2008-03-07

PUBLIC:

Many years ago as a young entrepreneur I had a lunch meeting with an investor, at the end of which I tried to pay. He stopped me and said "any investor who lets you pay for lunch isn't a real investor".

I sat in on a K forum, considering pitching them. When they told me they wanted $3000K for me to "join their community" and pitch I almost fell over.

Buyer beware!

PRIVATE: Members Only (560 Characters)

9
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Great Concept, Flawed Execution

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by jerwin on 2008-01-13

PUBLIC:

Very tempting, only $3G to present to a huge room full of angels. In reality, $3G per pitch in different cities, the room is 30% angels 70% service companies wanting your business and nobody really seems to know how to invest. The actual forum is NO help after you pitch, it is up to you to organize and herd the interested parties.

PRIVATE: Members Only (347 Characters)

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Not Sure What is Going to Happen...

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by David Gottesman on 2007-09-27

PUBLIC:

I received some convertible note funding from a small VC contingent on passing the deal screening. We got through it and i got a check the following week. Obviously I still have more to raise.

So now I have presented 1 time with 2 more to go through the end of this week. I received the 1st last of 13 interested people but noticed many of them to be the "dreaded resource"... of which i don't really need. We'll see how it goes.

PRIVATE: Members Only (327 Characters)

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They Mean Well

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by Anonymous on 2008-01-13

PUBLIC:

Randy Williams acknowledges publicly that about 80% of their investment goes into real estate, not startups.

There are a lot of people who attend their meetings.

PRIVATE: Members Only

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You Pay, They Finger the Sushi

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by Anonymous on 2007-11-02

PUBLIC:

This is part social club, part networking group, part investor association. It is a good way to pitch to 50+ people in one room (minus professionals who are pitching their services as well). The business model however is that you are more a piece of sushi on a moving sushi belt, they like to look, smell, but they're only going to seriously consider at most 1 of every 20 that comes their way. They're eclectic, look at everything from office buildings to software companies.

PRIVATE: Members Only (514 Characters)

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Professional, but Still Needs Improvement

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by Anonymous on 2007-08-08

PUBLIC:

If you compare Keiretsu to other angels organizations they are probably ahead of the pack. The biggest problem with all the angels' organization is lack of active angels. They have wealthy people that either did 1 angel investment (for a cousin) years ago or are thinking about doing an angel investment "sometime". Keiretsu members seem to be more active as angels, many doing multiple investments per year. There is also the money issue, but if you are a startup you have to think that presenting to 30-60 active angels at once is worth hundreds of hours of pitching individual angels and VCs.

The downside of Keiretsu is that it isn't as transparent as it could be, with some companies getting a boost from puppet-masters before the official meeting. There is also the fact the biggest critics of your company will be the people that know the least about your industry, causing every other angel to question the value of the deal without knowing that person is taking nonsense.

PRIVATE: Members Only (992 Characters)

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Depends Upon What You're Pitching

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by nwgoatfarmer on 2007-08-08

PUBLIC:

Was invited to attend a few meetings. Well structured, to be sure. However, in the end, it's a bunch of wealthy individuals with narrow fields of expertise commenting, usually, on things they know very little about. There's also a smattering of ex Microsofties that think they're the next Warren Buffet when it comes to investing but, again, suffer from narrow scopes of experience. If you've got a new dental product to pitch, or, perhaps, something that works along with the Microsoft Office suite, then this is the group to pitch. Otherwise, the process is long and expensive (for a startup).

PRIVATE: Members Only

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Why Would Entreprenurs Pay?

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by Anonymous on 2007-07-03

PUBLIC:

If I were an entrepreneur, I would not pay the large amount just to present.

PRIVATE: Members Only (507 Characters)

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Contradictory Feedback

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by Anonymous on 2007-06-06

PUBLIC:

In addition to what the other post said, which I totally agree with, the main problem with having 'too many' angels under one roof is that you get contradictory feedback....
Members read on...

PRIVATE: Members Only (654 Characters)

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Pay to Pitch" I Don't Think So.

Fund: Keiretsu Forum

Posted by Anonymous on 2007-06-06

PUBLIC:

I have attended several of these angel forums, hoping benefit from a room full of eager/wealthy/accredited angel investors.

The process is once you pass their internal due diligence (most do that can afford it) you pay $3500 (that was what they were charging when I was looking into it, probably has gone up by now) to pitch to a room full of "qualified angels"... then they send you outside and discuss en mass for a consensus on a yes or no. Remember, this is a group of 50 people, all with opinions (mostly uninformed from what I could see.) This part was pretty amusing, and showcased exactly what the assembled august panel of investors looked like: Lemmings.

They have multiple start ups pitching, very regulated and timed, which is not bad...but interesting when you think each of these start up mortgaged their house to pitch, and of course with NO guarantee of funding.

The events are also catered, with YOUR $3,500 funding all the goodies.

Rumor is they can move fast, but I am not sure of their track record. but from what I could see, most of the angels were clueless about technology, and more interested in real estate than anything else.

Personally, I have a real problem asking a struggling start up for thousands of dollars to pitch in front of a large group of mostly Luddites, regardless of how wealthy they are. I can get allot of development work done for $3,500...

Don't expect to see or meet any angel who has any tech domain expertise. (again, from the events I attended over the period of 18 months)

I am curious to know if ANYONE has ever received funding from one of these "pay to pitch" angel associations, or had a similar, less than impressive experience.

PRIVATE: Members Only (219 Characters)