YOUNGSTOWN Tech companies woo investors

Local companies make pitches to investor groups for between $1 million and $2 million.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Five young technology companies each spent a half-hour Wednesday looking for an angel -- one with at least $1 million.
Rose Fini thinks there's a good chance some of these local companies will find just that in the days to come.
Fini is the angel network director for the Northeast Ohio Software Association, which has organized about 75 investors who are interested in supporting entrepreneurs. Angel investors are those who provide money to start-up companies.
Fini and others came to the Youngstown Business Incubator to listen to presentations from five companies who need between $1 million and $2 million to expand their businesses.
Impressed: Fini said they were impressed with the company owners and technology focus of the incubator, which is a state-funded organization charged with helping new businesses get off the ground.
"There is a lot of enthusiasm here. You can really sense it," Fini said.
She said she was impressed with the technology that the companies are offering and the business backgrounds of the owners.
"It's not just the technical part. They understand what it will take to drive the growth of their business," she said.
Fini and others later will review the business plans of the companies. Companies that have viable plans will be invited to make presentations to a steering committee of eight investors. If they can impress that committee, they will be able to make a presentation to the full angel network.
Fini said between 20 and 30 investors normally attend meetings. They can partner in groups to support a project or act individually.
She said it's likely that some of the incubator companies will make it to the final presentation.
Ronald Copfer Jr., NEOSA chairman and owner of two Cleveland technology companies, said all five of the companies have viable business plans.
Whether investors will decide to support them is a different story, however.
Reasons: One of the companies, for example, doesn't look like it offers a large enough rate of return for angel investors, Copfer said. Another looks like its profits won't come for about two years, which is a long time to investors in today's market, he said.
Others seem to have underestimated the amount of money they will need to bring their products to market, he said.
Besides NEOSA, representatives from Cleveland Pacific Equity Ventures in Cuyahoga Falls and Redstone Investments were on hand. Bernie Kosar, former Cleveland Browns quarterback, was involved in the founding of Cleveland Pacific, while Jonathan Levy and Lee Burdman are partners in Redstone, said Jim Cossler, incubator director.