Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Update & Note to Venture Capitalists: Business of Software Conference Scholarship

I've been surprised by some application emails for the Business of Software Conference Scholarship. Many of them are from entrepreneurs who are funded by Venture Capital. In fact, it looks like some were prompted by their VCs to apply.

While I have nothing against them applying (and they are being honest about their situation), the purpose of my scholarship is to help young entrepreneurs who can't afford the admission price. I would expect funded companies or at least their VCs to be able to afford a few tickets to BOS. The conference is really nice, but it isn't exactly a week on Necker Island.

I sympathize if a VC won't allow their portfolio companies to have an education budget. That would really bum me out -- I really believe in continuing education. If I were running a multi-million dollar venture fund, I'd make sure that one person from each of my portfolio companies attended BOS -- and the companies would pay admission just like I do.

In fact, as a VC I would do exactly what I, founder and employee of a one-person mobile development company, am doing right now: running a BOS scholarship for unfunded companies. What better way to show my support for the software community and make new friends?

So, VCs, instead of trying to get your funds free BOS tickets, why don't you buy them one? Then you can help me by encouraging unfunded entrepreneurs to apply to the scholarship. If your firm gets an unfunded young entrepreneur to apply, I'll publicly give you credit for your help. Even if we don't pick an entrepreneur you sent.

It'll be win-win. Companies looking for funding will think you're cool because you will have done something good for the entrepreneur community. You might even get a chance to fund one of the companies that you bring to the table.

Send your young unfunded entrepreneurs, in school, dropped out, or less than two years out of college to The Business of Software Blog for the scholarship application instructions. Thanks!

update: I might be too harsh on VCs above. I understand that VCs want to do everything they can to help their entrepreneurs. But if a company is venture backed, they are in a better position to afford this than those who aren't. My first priority for this scholarship are those who are just starting out. Don't let this discourage those with funding from applying, especially those who are in an incubator or have seed funding. We'll look at your applications too!<\b>

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