Venture Atlanta will be here before you know it. Each year, the VA Selection Committee selects 30 or so companies (from 100′s of applicants) to present at the premier technology conference and largest investor showcase in the Southeast. If your company is looking to raise money – now is the time to get your application in to present.
The goal of the conference is to help seed, early, and growth stage companies get funded. Any technology enabled startup is qualified to apply, however the conference doesn’t cover bio, pharma, life sciences, or medical devices. Building on the success of last year’s Southeast Spotlight, Venture Atlanta is seeking applicants from Georgia and across the Southeast.
There are many benefits to presenting at VA:
- Last year we sold out with more than 800 people in attendance. 60 funds and over 100 investors from all over the country were in the audience. Dozens of large companies attend as well.
- Access to local and out-of-state venture fund groups through one on one meetings. Last year, over 250 meetings took place at the event, resulting in many term sheets. Some companies had over 20 one-on-one meetings.
- Presenting companies have many networking opportunities, including invitations to private meetings and dinners.
- The benefits don’t end with the conference. VA continues to provide opportunities for alumni companies – and we’re adding a new benefit for alumni that we’ll be announcing soon.
Just a few years ago startups would ask me if they should present at VA. Now they ask me what they can do to get selected for the conference. Last year I shared these four tips:
Today we had our second Selection Committee meeting for 2015. The committee members review every application. Each one gives the company a rating and they are later discussed at Selection Committee meetings. The committee members put many hours into reviewing the applications. In past years, many startups wait until the deadline to submit and those applications. The flood of applications close to the deadline means the have to be reviewed quickly and it is harder to stand out.
Unless you think something will change before the deadline that will demonstrate significantly more progress or traction – you’ll be better off applying early.
HAVE A SPY
You probably know someone on the Selection Committee or work with one of the sponsors. If you don’t, make an effort to. Let them know you applied and update them on your company and progress so they can advocate for you while your application is being reviewed. Last year I noticed many applicants benefit because someone knows the company and shares with the rest of us why they should be invited.
Have a ‘spy’ on the Selection Committee and update them on your company.
MAKE YOUR APPLICATION STAND OUT
Applying is easy – just go to http://ventureatlanta.org/conference/apply/ and submit your executive summary. What is NOT easy is creating a great executive summary – but that’s what it will take to get selected. Highlight the good stuff and make it awesome!
A good executive summary is content rich and uses simple sentence structure. It clearly articulates what the company does and whom they do it for. Help the committee understand your market opportunity, product, technology, and target customer. Make sure it shares your competitive advantages, what stage your startup is, your revenue if you have any, when you will be seeking funding, and highlights traction and customer adoption.
Some of the best companies may not get a chance to present because the committee can’t tell what you do from your executive summary! If it’s long on marketing speak and hype, but short on clear descriptions and specifics – it won’t get good ratings and won’t be selected. Do not assume the committee members know your company or your industry. Spell it out for the committee and get help from a mentor, seasoned entrepreneur, past presenter, or one of the startup organizations (like ATDC, Startup Chicks, ATV, VentureLab, etc) before you submit.
VA is looking for fundable companies that excite investors – use your executive summary to show why that’s you.
PAST PRESENTERS NEED TO HIGHLIGHT PROGRESS
If you have presented at VA in the past and you are raising money again, you can still apply to present. However, it is critical that you highlight what progress you’ve made since then to get selected.
If you have presented in the past, tell the committee what you’ve accomplished since then.
I’m honored to be this year’s Venture Atlanta Chairman. The conference is October 20-21 at the Georgia Aquarium. The Board of VA has worked hard all year putting together a great conference and I can’t wait to share the details and some of the new things we are doing this year. Presenting at Venture Atlanta is a terrific opportunity. You’ll gain exposure to top VCs from across the country, benefit from experienced coaches, get practice pitching your company, and get quality networking opportunities.
The application deadline this year is August 14th (see tip #1). Good luck!