Capital Connections Photos and Recap

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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 …

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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!

Another thanks:

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!

Enjoy!
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13 Comments so far »

  1. robert said

    on May 18 2007 @ 5:04 pm

    Great job guys- of course no surprise with you involved ;)

  2. Sanjay Parekh said

    on May 18 2007 @ 5:09 pm

    Thanks for putting on a great event. As for the service providers who snuck in – I vote for a public shaming of those individuals. For this event and others that have started recently, we’ve all been very clear that we are focusing only on entrepreneurs and investors in an effort to strengthen and improve our community. In the end, this is good for service providers since there will be more companies which need their services. But if these folks are so short-sighted and self-centered as to not care about the community as a whole, I say put up a list so that we all know who is hurting our efforts and we can avoid supporting them in the future.

  3. Mike Perry said

    on May 18 2007 @ 5:09 pm

    Thanks to everyone for an exciting and informative Capital Connections #1.

    For me, it was just the right mix of entrepreneurs and “Green Tags”. I was able to learn from both sides at a pace that allowed me as much time to over hear others giving their pitches as I spent with my own pitch; even made a couple of ‘connections’ myself.

    Your Investors were a very polite and professional group; please if you have a chance, pass along my thanks to them.

    A Special thanks to the Staff and Owners of the Pavillion and to the people who paid for the event.

    Mike Perry
    Floyd’s Cyber World

  4. John Souza said

    on May 18 2007 @ 5:24 pm

    Absolutely a Terrific Event!

    I wish this event was around sooner. The format was great the venue worked our very well and the quality of attendance was virtually perfect. These events will soon become the can’t miss events in the Southeast Region I am sure.

    Based upon my conversations with fellow entrepreneurs and Investors I cannot wait to the next event.

    Great Job Again!!

  5. Herman Lorenz said

    on May 19 2007 @ 8:44 am

    It was great! I know this took a lot of time. We all owe you one for the work. Now just do it again?

  6. Nicholas Jones said

    on May 19 2007 @ 2:29 pm

    Great event and location. Had some great introductions to the Atlanta investment commumunity that might prove very useful in the future. Thanks again.

    Nick.

  7. Scott Burkett said

    on May 20 2007 @ 1:23 am

    Hi gang, and thanks for stopping by and dropping the comments.

    Herman – we are most definitely going to do this event again (every quarter, baby!) We’re gonna keep doing it until Atlanta is “back.” Then, we’re gonna keep doing until we’re on top.

    We have some other tricks up our sleeve as well … this is just the beginning. :)

    Cheers.
    Scott

  8. Stephen Fleming said

    on May 20 2007 @ 9:25 pm

    Nicely done event. I’m one of the die-hard Midtowners, but this was worth going (barely) OTP.

    When planning your better “navigation system”, be sure to check out .

    And remember that blue and green look similar in dim light… :-)

  9. Stephen Fleming said

    on May 20 2007 @ 9:27 pm

    Alright, so your blog software apparently eats properly formatted URLs. What I was trying to reference was:

    http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/archive/2007/04/building-a-better-conference-badge

    Let’s see if that survives…

  10. Scott Burkett said

    on May 20 2007 @ 9:47 pm

    Stephen, thanks for coming to the event, and stopping by to drop a comment as well.

    The problem with the nametags was the biggest problem we encountered. The size and scope of the event sort of took a life of its own, so we had to improvise on relatively short notice (with the colored dots.) We’ll most definitely address this for the next event. Great link, BTW!

    Cheers.
    Scott

  11. Calvin Yu said

    on May 21 2007 @ 7:58 am

    Thanks for putting together such a great event! I have no doubt that it took a lot of effort. Great job.

    – Calvin

  12. Big Thinkr » Blog Archive » Seed and Angel Capital Strategies for Atlanta said

    on May 28 2007 @ 12:38 pm

    [...] If you are here in Atlanta, there are networking events almost every night (MIT Enterprise Forum, Technology Association of Georgia, TechLINKS, etc.) But be aware that most of these events are rife with service providers, many of whom are not angel candidates (although there is the occasional exception.) For many reasons I prefer our Capital Connections event (via StartupLounge.com), which is free of service providers (by design.) [...]

  13. Steve Walden said

    on July 8 2007 @ 5:00 pm

    You are fast becoming the “in” event in the Atlanta tech community. Well done, and thank you! We’ve needed something like this for a long time.

    Steve

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