Got back from Venture 2005 yesterday. Attended by over 700 people, the two-day conference highlighted 33 NC-based technology and life science companies. This year, instead of holding it in Chapel Hill, it was held in Pinehurst, NC - home of this year's US Open. Some quick highlights:
- Having it down in Pinehurst this year was smart. 99% of the people that attended, stayed right there. That meant even when it was really late, all the VCs, entrepreneurs and service providers kept talking/socializing - which is important. In past years, some of the local people that attended (me included) would leave during the day, maybe return late in the afternoon for a little while and then go back home. This conference put an end to that and it worked.
- I continue to hear a lot of very positive feedback from the out of state investors that attended. One of the VCs from Boston said it was the best venture conference he has ever been to. By the way, there was definitely a significant uptick in the number of out of state partners from large VC funds attending.
- One company used the conference to announce they just raised some money and a lot more generated significant interest.
- Robert Johnson, the founder and CEO of BET was a fantastic speaker and offered solid advice. Among a lot of other topics, he told the entrepreneurs in the room to find investors that have the same level of passion for their business. Dead on. By the way, I think a lot of the investors in the room drooled when he told the story about the original investor in BET turning $150k into $850 million.
- It was formally announced that MCNC spun out their venture arm and NC IDEA was created. NC IDEA helps provide grants, loans and traditional venture funding to help NC-based companies between seed funding and Series A.