The latest CONNECTpreneur event took place on December 10th. These quarterly events use a format designed to fortify investors, entrepreneurs and service providers alike with a mix of presentations, networking and pitch opportunities. The events are broken into three distinct sections which I’ve highlighted below and thrown in my take along the way.
Fireside Chat with Entrepreneur John Kealey
This event opened with John Kealey, CEO of Decision Lens who shared his experience around the difference between running a company that is meeting the market vs. making the market. The former requires speed and organization and the latter requires patience. John had great advice for entrepreneurs who are contemplating their exit strategy.
- Be buttoned-up in your accounting practices while you are building your company. The acquisition process is all-consuming and due diligence will go much smoother if you are prepared from the start.
- Maintain control of negotiations by considering all options. Make sure your prospective acquirer is aware that you are considering options other than acquisition.
Entrepreneur Pitch Presentations
Pitch presentations were made by nine different companies at various stages. They represented an interesting cross section of B-to-B and B-to-C with each seeking investment. There were a few standouts but here’s the entire list:
- 20/20 GeneSystems – develops and commercializes innovative, proprietary diagnostics tests that aid in the fight against cancer. These tests generally fall into three categories: personalized medicine, early detection of lung cancer, biological detection
- Blue Ridge Networks – isolation and containment cybersecurity technology
- ICG Solutions – real-time analytics company providing insights into big data
- Lumious – transforming training to increase help desk engagement
- Lyterati – software that enables faculty and administrators in meeting their institutions’ goals through their research, teaching and service. (Stood out as a company that really understands their market)
- OneWindow Workplace – a modern social intranet for Microsoft Office365
- ParkMyCloud – cloud storage with an on/off switch (Great concept!)
- SkillSmart – revolutionizing hiring by connecting employers and job seekers through skills. (Interesting approach to solving the unique challenges tech companies have in finding qualified talent)
- Smartlink Mobile Systems – mobile chronic care management
The closing panel provided an investor perspective. It was moderated by Jonathan Aberman of Amplifier Ventures and included Dr. John Holaday of ExoCyte, Mike Pratt of Select Venture Partners, John Tullis of Tullis Health Investors, and Nate Yohannes of U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Audience participation inspired conversation on how entrepreneurs in the D.C. region are some of the most well educated but may need support on starting and operating companies. The panel talked about the resources available in the region from the SBA, through incubators such as 1776 and courses available through the University of Maryland.
The next event is March 1.