Yesterday, I got a last-minute invite to the party at Unpitch, which in the past was super-secret and off limits to journalists not named Scott Kirsner. In other words, I got to do in person what I did over email, last year: Ask investors which companies they liked.
Hot tech events come and go in Boston. Right now, Unpitch feels like it’s on the upswing. It started in 2013 as an antidote to the ridiculous practice of charging entrepreneurs to pitch investors. In addition to removing the pay-to-play, Unpitch took early-stage startups off stage, eliminated slide decks and sat down founders and potential investors across tables from one another, in private pitch sessions paired by the event’s organizers.
It’s invite-only for both investors and entrepreneurs. I’m told about 250 companies applied this year, for some 26 spots. Most of the 26 haven’t had much press. Only a handful have been covered by BostInno. Some you might even call “stealthy.” For investors, it ends up being a well-picked crowd drawn from the networks of organizers Phil Beauregard, Abby Fichtner, Scott Kirsner and the NEVCA. Diane Hessan, who founded the company that eventually got acquired by Omnicom and became C-Space, which hosted Unpitch, said she was “blown away” by Boston investor participation.
Most of the check-writers I ran into at this pitch event were angel investors; few venture partners. Some firms sent their associates and principals–with a few notable exceptions, including Chip Hazard of Flybridge and Dayna Grayson of NEA. Grayson came up with North Bridge in Boston and now gets up here from Chevy Chase, Md., once in a while for her board seats at Onshape and Desktop Metal.
Update: Vociferous complaint later forced me to revise my reckoning of the number of VC partners in the room, somewhat: There were a few more than I thought. I guess I was just on the wrong side of the room. Or, maybe the right side…
Anyway, here are a few more testimonials I gathered:
At the event and afterward, I talked with a few of the investors who were there, off the record, asking them which companies they liked. Here’s what I gleaned:
Here’s hoping Unpitch stays hot and doesn’t get any bigger.
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