UPDATE: David S. Rose, Chairman of the NY Angels, responded in the comments below and I broke it out into its own post.

In the comments of my previous post, Nate Westheimer, the NY Tech organizer and former EIR at Rose Tech Ventures, wrote this as part of a long, thoughtful comment:

To start, the NY Angels isn’t a pay-to-play scheme. Come on. If you networked with any of the members — many of whom devote their lives to helping entrepreneurs (David Rose, Jeff Stewart, Roger Eherenberg, Brian Cohen, etc) — I bet you’d get in without a charge. The “shmoes” who pay are those who haven’t had the sense to meet up independently with its members, excite them, and have you get in front of their colleagues without having to pay the administrative fee. [Emphasis added]

I was wondering when someone would bring this up. Here’s the thing: it’s not about me or what I can finagle because I have connections. It’s about the guy who has no connections and is a broke nobody. And for that guy, the price to apply to MAYBE get a chance to pitch some of New York’s richest people is $150. And that’s not cool.

See, I’ve got a bit of a chip on my shoulder regarding this particular point. I wasn’t poor, but I didn’t grow up with money. When I was a student at Columbia, I worked as a paramedic in Harlem and the South Bronx to pay for school. Two jobs. Two very working class jobs. I started off doing it cuz it was fun, and ended up having to do it because I needed to eat. I was a poor boy in a rich man’s world. No connections. No network. Another schmoe.

And yeah, I’ve gotten myself into a place where I’m a little bit of a somebody since then. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is how we treat the least among us.

Unfunded entrepreneurs should not be asked to pay investors to pitch. Period. It’s exploitative and just wrong.

And if you’re right and the members are in fact truly devoted to helping entrepreneurs, then I challenge them here and now to drop their $150 pitch application fee and to instead embrace the model pioneered by the Open Angel Forum and fund their efforts by charging service providers instead of entrepreneurs.

Honestly, I think there’s more than just a moral imperative involved here. By killing the application fees, they’ll get savvier founders, better startups, and improved deal flow––a true win-win for the New York ecosystem.