Ya, Kieretsu Forum is charging $2,500 to pitch at 3 events. Seems very excessive. I've always appreciated the approach to vetting startups on their merits and then inviting them to pitch for no fee. but I also see how this is unsustainable with the massive growth in new companies, especially around here. Asking a startup to pay helps filter by a few variables: First) they're serious and willing to invest if it's the right meeting. Second) it probably helps reduce the applying startups to the ones that already have revenue, which is attractive.
Would be great to see any org's doing this refund some of the fee to startups if they choose not to move forward with funding the company.
I think what you have to do when evaluating opportunities like these is run the numbers. $1k for 5 events could be great if you're pitching to 100 investors at each event and could reach 500 angels. But if it's 5 angels at each event, then you're probably getting hosed. And ask for statistics from the org: What % of companies that pitch get funded? What your average deal size? What's the total annual investment made through this org?
I couldn't get a straight answer on numbers from Kieretsu forum, so we never moved forward with them. We paid $75 to pitch at VC Task Force to 5 investors. None of which were going to write a check... it actually turned out to be more "pitch practice", which was valuable as well.
It's pretty frustrating to have people with lots of money, who say they want deal flow, to then say "but you gotta pay me f you want to talk to me". Certainly seems like a kick in the teeth. At least in this example (http://techcrunch.com/2014/05/14/vc-auction/) they're using the funds raised to go towards a good cause.
Good luck bud!