OAFSF1 Open Angel Forum: Showing the Middle Finger to Pay to PitchIn these difficult times, it can be even more challenging — than it already is — for entrepreneurs to raise seed capital. There are investors out there ready to give you their time though, but what if you were asked to pay a fee for it? Jason Calacanis will have none of it.

Calacanis is one of the co-founders of TechCrunch50, which combats the idea of conferences like DEMO — who charge $5,000 to participate. Last year, he launched the Open Angel Forum to combat pay-to-pitch angel investors and create a great opportunity for both angel investors and entrepreneurs. The best part? The OAF has branched out beyond LA, to Boulder, Colorado, with events in San Francisco on March 4 and New York on April 8.

How it Works

If you’re a startup, and think you have what it takes, fill out an application to pitch. Only five companies are selected, so make sure you take your time filling it out — it’s worth it.

If you’re an investor, you’re required to apply, as well as meeting a few criteria: You must have made at least three investments of note in the past 18 months, and must meet and be approved by Calacanis personally.

If you’re a service provider, you can buy a ticket to attend. There are only five slots open for service providers, at $1,500 each, and I think it’s a great business model. Many times, events can be overrun with service providers — like lawyers and accountants — looking to pick up startups, so it’s a great way to narrow the field.

The events are a few hours long, and give each startup a chance to do a 10-minute pitch, 5-minute Q&A session with time afterward set aside for mingling with the angels.

Why It’s Great

You’d think that the size of the OAF would be a downside, but I disagree. It allows focus and personal time with angel investors. There’s quite a demand already for more OAF chapters, even overseas.

Companies and investors get to attend for free, and the LA and Boulder events have been huge successes. “For someone who’s running around fundraising, what a blessing! Instead of the worthless networking and scheduling efforts, this cuts right to the chase: one night, one pitch, 20 quality investors,” Boulder startup, Grogger, said.

Grade A investors. Kevin Rose of Digg and Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital as well as Brian Alvey of Weblogs, Inc. and Charlie O’Donnell of First Round Capital will be heading the upcoming chapters of the OAF in San Francisco and New York, respectively.

Most of all, I think this is a big step to stamping out those investors following the pay-to-pitch model — it’s unacceptable, and there is no circumstance in which an entrepreneur should fork up the cash.

San Francisco Event Links – March 4

  • Startups apply here. Deadline to apply is February 26.
  • Angels apply here.
  • Service provider tickets here.

New York Event Links – April 8

  • Startups apply here. Deadline to apply is April 1.
  • Angels apply here.
  • Service provider tickets here.

If you’re interested in the Open Angel Forum, you can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

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