Investors Choice Conference Draws Ire

The upcoming investment conference in Midway, Utah, run by the Wayne Brown Institute, the Investors Choice Venture Capital Conference, has drawn the ire of a high profile technology pundit, Jason Calacanis. Calacanis, who is in the midst of a campaign to convince angel groups and conferences to abandon charging startup companies to pitch their firms, highlighted the conference in a post today on his personal blog. Brad Bertoch of the Wayne Brown Insitute, in response, said "I concur with (Calacanis) that many 'pay to play' conferences are not very rewarding experiences, especially if the entrepreneur is expecting a check," and also speculated that Calacanis "probably has us confused with any number for profit organizations that have a business model based on charging entrepreneurs fees for all sorts of things, including pitching." Bertoch explained that the Institute is a 501c3 nonprofit, and has been helping entrepreneurs in Utah for 26 years. Calacanis--known for his often controversial views, and who also helps run the TechCrunch50 conference--has called out a number of other angel groups and conferences, most notably the angel group the Keiretsu Forum, for their practice in charging entrepreneurs to pitch their firms. Bertoch said "The only way to get rich off entrepreneurs is picking winners, investing in them and helping them grow their business by continually adding value."