10:16 AM

3.6.07 VC3: Ready Set Pitch

So, it's a humbling experience, making the rounds on Sand Hill, making your well-honed elevator pitch. Why not compress the whole sordid affair into a rapid-fire afternoon? That was the idea behind VC3 - part of EntrepreneurshipUSA - give budding startups three minutes to pitch and VCs three minutes to respond. Then move on.

It was a humbling experience for some of the hopeful, the Mercury News reports.

Eric Frenkiel, a purposeful, bespectacled 21-year-old Stanford junior, recently launched what he coyly described as a site ``in the fashion-media space.''

In a session with young venture capitalists John Vrionis and Chris Sun -- themselves Stanford alums now working at Lightspeed Venture Partners and Storm Ventures, respectively -- Frenkiel talked at a fevered clip ... At the end, Vrionis handed Frenkiel his business card, but Frenkiel took it glumly. ``Are you giving your card to everyone?'' he asked plaintively. His demeanor brightened when Vrionis said no.

But it's hard to hold a VC's attention even for three minutes. In reality you probably have 15 seconds to get someone's attention. After that, it's just politeness.

Brian Ong, a 24-year-old Stanford graduate student who launched an online services marketplace in December with four friends, said some VCs were:

``actually checking their BlackBerrys while I was talking. We're talking about a three-minute pitch,'' he said, incredulous. ``Maybe some of them need to see who's e-mailing them at every single minute of the afternoon, but I kind of doubt it.''

Doesn't seem like the financiers were seriously giving each pitch serious attention. Steve Kompolt, who started a digital signage company two years ago, concluded:

``A lot of this is these guys being cordial and giving feedback. What they're really looking for is that needle in the haystack.''