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Sharpening the focus Featured

9:33am EDT December 20, 2002
The Columbus Venture Network is refocusing its scope of services, following in-depth research and discussions with its targeted audience of investors, potential investors and its 100 member angel investors,

Affiliated with the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, CVN began in the mid '70s as a group of angel investors who met regularly at the Athletic Club. Today, it views itself as a matchmaker.

"We wanted to find ways to bring angel investors and entrepreneurs with a plausible business plan together," says CVN Chairman Mark Butterworth.

Butterworth says CVN's board of directors recognized a lack of available early stage seed and investment money in Central Ohio, so it sharpened its focus to serve only angel investors.

"When you try to please everyone, you can end up pleasing no one," says Butterworth. "We saw that we could offer a service to early stage investors."

To achieve its matchmaking goals, CVN offers four programs: CVN Circle, CVN Forum, CVN Deal Debut and CVN Top Club.

CVN Circle is a bimonthly meeting of angel investors, entrepreneurs and service providers. It encourages attendees to network and share information. At another bimonthly meeting, CVN Forum, entrepreneurs present their business plans to angel investors, who critique them.

"At the end of the 10-minute presentation, the entrepreneur gets a lot of valuable feedback, like whether they are going after the right market," Butterworth says.

And angel investors get a feel for which entrepreneurs may be a fit for their portfolio.

"One quality that is very important to angel investors is the 'coachability' of the entrepreneur," says Butterworth. "CVN Forum allows the investors to get a feel for this quality."

Following the forum presentations, CVN Deal Debut presents the business plans deemed the best in an e-mail sent to member angel investors, if they opt to receive them. This allows them to get an anonymous look at the plans.

Finally, CVN Top Club is an invitation-only, quarterly meeting for investors, designed to foster networking among them.

Butterworth says about 40 percent of entrepreneurs presenting have received funding as a direct or indirect result of their presentation. How to reach: Columbus Venture Network, (614) 225-6938 or Michael_Bowers@Columbus.org