I love attending these events because the ecosystem created here is pretty magical. This is one of the few events in town that has great content for everyone. We all complain about the 7am start time as we are pushing through the crowd at the coffee bar, but once you arrive, you are grateful that you have most of your day left following the event.
The 310 attendees were treated to a mix of networking, watching five to six minute pitches from entrepreneurs, and interview style discussions with industry experts. Here are my highlights:
Networking: Provided a cross section from all parts of the entrepreneur ecosystem. Stats showed that 20% were VC’s/angel investors, 50% entrepreneurs, 18% CXO’s/other, and 12% service providers. I’ve learned not to chat with any one person for too long because there are too many great folks to meet!
Keynote: The “fireside” chat with Sudhakar Kesvan of ICF International was a great testament to the benefits of risk taking. His company was propelled in size when they simultaneously bid on six large contracts and were awarded “four or five”. They knew this was a make-or-break move and they increased in size overnight. Of course it’s all in the execution but props for ICF being gutsy enough to try. The senior management team agreed in advance to doing what it took to make this work. He confessed to six to twelve months of 90 hour work weeks but clearly it paid off.
Entrepreneur Pitches – I had two general observations about the entrepreneur category but I’ve provided links to all the companies that pitched. First, I noticed that many companies are trying to solve the hiring problem and I’m excited to see that this category of software solutions is creating a marketing funnel for prospective employees. Second, as a content marketer we know that video content is very hot. Two companies in the lineup at CONNECTpreneur were taking this on and one was clear on the need for content to be shareable on multiple platforms.
- CyberRX – Cyber readiness assessment software that is low cost and fast
- DEVENSoft – Software support for acquiring and integrating companies
- DisposeRX – Concerned about diverting dangerous unused prescription drugs from environment
- LifeFuels – Connecting technology and nutrition for consumption management of athletes and healthcare
- Ostendio – Helping companies with cyber security risk mitigation
- Progow – Talent acquisition software
- Skreens – Helps consumers manage the display of multiple video inputs
- SnipMe – Marrying user generated video with topics to create shareable “shows”
- The WorkForce Channel – Sponsored corporate video content
- Triea Technologies – Recovers and recycles phosphorus from composting manure
Investor Panel – I always notice a shift in the amount of vibrato when the investor panel takes the stage. In fact one investor kept us all waiting for several minutes before he joined his colleagues on stage. I decided not to post the picture with the empty chair. Perhaps a certain amount of this characteristic is necessary for risk-taking investors?