Well, it took us a full day to recover physically from our first quarterly Capital Connections event here in Atlanta – wow, what a blast!
We knew it was a good sign when we walked up at 4:00p (two hours ahead of the kickoff time) and saw one non-Georgia VC who was already there early, pacing around on his cell phone.
We ended up with about 180 attendees, representing over 100 early-stage Georgia companies, 30 investors and about a dozen observers (media, academia, government, etc.) The whole affair was spread out among the 5 or 6 rooms of The Pavillion. The event was scheduled from 6-8pm, but there were still people there at 9pm. The staff practically had to push everyone out. The party continued at a nearby pub until who knows when.
Funny pub story. After the event, we had dinner at the pub with Jason Caplain and David Jones (both from Southern Capitol Ventures) and Josh Watts (Blue Violin.) The restaurant part of the pub was separate from the bar/party part. We were really the only ones eating dinner that late, so our waitress had to keep running back and forth between us and the pub crawlers. Our waitress came over and said:
Sorry I’m running a bit behind with your drink orders. There was apparently a really bitching event next door at The Pavillion, and we’re swamped with partyers!
What Went Right!
The vibe was very positive, and the energy was very high. There were at least a dozen (if not more) entrepreneurs doing demos on laptops, showing their products, etc. There was a lot of connection sharing and exchanging of ideas.
We’ve received a ton of unsolicited feedback from the attendees. The good news is that we know of at least 3 VCs that found strong prospects. We also know of at least 5 or 6 companies that will be getting followup phone calls from VCs. Several angels have expressed us that they found deals they are going to explore as well. We’ve also heard several stories of entrepreneurs meeting other complementary entrepreneurs, which they believe will lead to business opportunities or a single, combined, enhanced venture for the two.
From the reams of emails we received, it would appear that a need has been met. Both the investor and entrepreneurial communities responded incredibly favorably to this, which is why we are anxiously awaiting the next event (in the Fall.)
Capital Connections Photo Gallery!
Click an image to view the larger version …
So what could have been better?
Well, for starters, a few service providers managed to finagle their way in. Won’t happen again.
At the peak, there was a small bottleneck at the sign-in desk – but not because of lack of help, but because we didn’t do a particularly good job of capturing all of the names for attendee organizations. We only captured the name of the company/fund, and the primary contact. For future events, we will capture every single attendee by name, which should speed things up considerably.
We used colored dots to distinguish investors from entrepreneurs from observers. This was a good idea (albeit last minute), but the dots were small, and hard to make out in the ambient party light of the facility as the night progressed. We have some ideas on a much better system to help people navigate the crowd for the next event.
One of the things that Lance Weatherby at the ATDC pointed out was that there were some investors and entrepreneurs that didn’t co-mingle well. They stood in clumps and didn’t really network. I am hoping that as we have more and more of these types of events that people will begin to co-mingle more. We’re going to try and come up with some way to better educate entrepreneurs as to the importance of (and skills involved in) networking. It wasn’t that way all night, and certainly wasn’t representative of everyone in the room, but it was a factor.
Sadly, 3 or 4 people applied to attend the event, but never RSVP’d, so they didn’t get on the announcement list. Which means that they didn’t get the email announcing the change of venue. So they ended up showing up at the old/original venue. Whoops!
Again, we’d like to thank Adams Capital, Jeff Haynie, and Jerry Recht for pitching in to help cover the costs of this inaugural event. Thanks to Stacy Williams for helping us keep everything rolling! Thanks to David and Sheryl at The Pavillion for working with us on such short notice!
And a very big thanks to all the entrepreneurs, investors (most especially those that traveled from other states), and observers that came out and made this event possible. What’s next? Capital Connections will be back next quarter, and we’re shooting for 250-300 people, a better navigation system, and a lot more demos.
See you then!