Despite a sputtering national economy, a persuasive 30-second “elevator pitch” can still find multi-million dollar venture capital funding for the right startup business, as one Haas School alumnus discovered here recently.
Gerry Pesavento, MBA 89, hoped for the opportunity to make a pitch for his new company, Teknovus, last March at the UC Berkeley Entrepreneurs’ Forum, a program offered monthly by the school’s Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. On that particular night, Pesavento’s “number” was up.
The “numbers” refers to what Jerome Engel, Lester Center executive director, affectionately calls the few selected guests who get to make a very brief plea for financing or other kinds of help at the beginning of each Entrepreneurs’ Forum. After Pesavento was picked to be a number and made his pitch, he was approached by venture capitalist Matt Sandler of Partech International in San Francisco. Three months later, Teknovus closed a $5 million deal led by Partech and US Venture Partners.
“Being part of the Lester Center’s entrepreneurial network has made all the difference,” said Pesavento. “The Entrepreneurs’ Forum directly led to the financing of our new venture.”
Teknovus is not Pesavento’s first success. Previously, the founding CEO of Alloptic, which won second prize at the inaugural 1999 UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition, Pesavento lead Alloptic to $50 million in funding.
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