Business and a little bit of everything else.
Before I go into the story behind this weekend, I’d like to give a quick background on how we got to this point. The Snowjam was point blank a huge success.(http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2012/03/030712-dsa-snowjam.html). Over 12 news publications wrote about the event, camera crews and photographers surrounded the vicinity and as for the students: over 6,000 were in attendance throughout the whole three hour event and at the peak over 3,000 were present. Given that it was cold and rainy, this feat was impressive and we were proud nonetheless that the event happened (there was a slight chance it was going to be cancelled because of thunder) and was a hit. In terms of preparation for the event, Nate and Nick (two of my best friends and now partners) worked tirelessly and raised over $30,000 in two months. How many other college kids can say that?
However, the event itself wasn’t even the best part. It was what happened right after. It so happened that an Executive Producer from Discovery Channel and Imax was in the area and attended the Snowjam. He got in touch with us almost immediately after the event saying he wanted to meet with us. Well at the meeting he stated that he loved the event so much that he wanted to make it into a TV Show that would be broadcasted in 3D (he’s working with a 3D TV company). Also, he wanted to make this Snowjam into a tour series where we could put on this event at 12 other major schools. The idea of this of course was something we never thought was a possibility and ever since we’ve been working with this producer and his crew. The producer will be in the area for the next couple weeks as he’s working on his latest project here in Blacksburg. So with that said, here is the story from last weekend.
I don’t think there are any words to describe this weekend due to the magnitude of everything we did, but I’m going to attempt to do our experiences justice and document everything that has happened in the past 48 hours. It started with an early morning on Friday, we set off at 3:30 in the morning so that we could make it in time to meet with Jonathon Perrelli, a venture capitalist and entrepreneur who started Fortify VC in Washington D.C. The ride was smooth and we felt well prepared to perform our first pitch in front of a VC. Surprisingly, I don’t think any of us were nervous. As know for me, I was incredibly excited to finally see what kind of reaction we would get from an experienced entrepreneur and also advice on what our next steps should be.
We arrived right on time and sat down with Jonathon in the lounge of the “Fort” as they call it. Immediately, we felt right at home as it felt like we were talking to just another college student as Jonathon was so laid back and full of energy. Nick started off the pitch and then Nate and I both added comments of our own to help explain our story and our goals. Jonathon loved it. He had a smile on his face for the majority of our story-telling and was especially excited that us Hokies were working on this project (he also attended VT).
We skyped in James who explained the media portion of the pitch and after all was said and done, I think Jonathon was convinced that this was something he had to become a part of. He expressed that he wanted to be a supporter/mentor as a bare minimum and also went on to say other possibilities with his involvement. All in all, the meeting was a huge success and we all walked out with huge smiles on our faces. What a relief that our first pitch went so well and that we already had such a huge backing.
After a nap, we later met up with a sports related start-up. They are called Next Game, essentially the Foursquare for sports. They are a start-up backed by the Fort and are well on their way to becoming a success. We also pitched our idea to them and it seemed as though they were in awe of what we were doing. I honestly don’t think they expected a bunch of 20 year old’s to be working on such a mass-scale tour and to have as acquired as many resources as we have so far. It was great to hear their feedback, one of the main tips they offered was: when approaching vc’s tell what you have already done (this gives VC’s a reassurance that the team can actually pull it off).
On Saturday, our first meeting was with Adam Zuckerman, a well-established entrepreneur, lawyer and mentor in DC. We pitched and he then gave us these tips: to consider having events off campus for some stops on the tour because some schools may not want the snow event to be on campus; form a Delaware C Corp; get in contact with a lawyer that strictly deals with entrepreneurial ventures and LLC’s (he mentioned a few names to get in touch with). He loved the idea and expressed that he saw great potential in the tour. He knows the guy who produces the Zombie Land and Tough Mudder runs, he is planning on putting us in contact with him so we can learn about his process of touring on the east and getting people on board with the tour.
Next, we met up with an agent, Jamie Forhan, who is an old friend of mine who is well connected in terms of photographers, models and club owners in DC. He introduced to us a machine (photobooth DMV) that could be a great marketing tool for San Do as well as the tour. We also had our first professional photoshoot courtesy of Jamie and his new studio.
Then, to finish off the weekend we met up with some Georgetown students that night. To give you an idea of what kind of prestige and status these kids and their families have, the person we visited lived two doors down from John Kerry. Then we met Jerry Sullivan who is part of a company that helps start-ups approach VC’s. We will be having a meeting with him and his boss this weekend.
With all this happening in one weekend, we were exhausted and amazed by the end of it to say the least. We are already excited for our next trip and looking forward to making more connections with the people we’ve met so far and future VC’s and professionals.