Atlanta pulled out the welcome wagon this week for Venture Atlanta 2014. Venture Atlanta is the premier technology conference in Georgia that connects startups with the capital they need to grow their business.
33 companies each gave 6-minute presentations at the Georgia Aquarium to an audience of 700 – including over 130 investors and leading venture capitalists from all over the country. The presenting companies were well prepared and did an outstanding job.
Two of my Tech Square Ventures portfolio companies presented at the conference. Adam Mangone presented UserIQ, which gives marketers of SaaS, web and mobile companies the ability to interact, in-application, with users of their products based on who the individual user is and how they behave – all without requiring a single line of custom code. Dan Ciprari presented Pointivo, the only solution that captures dimensionally accurate 3D models and measurements of as-built environments using just a smartphone camera – no laser scanners or special hardware required.
I also loved seeing so many of my ATDC Select friends take the stage. The impact of ATDC and ATV on our tech community was evident, together comprising over half the presenting companies. Fitting Atlanta’s role as the hub of innovation in the Southeast; this year the conference also featured a ‘Spotlight on the Southeast’ track – including 4 startups from Tennessee, South Carolina, and Florida.
The panels and speakers this year were terrific. The cyber security panel kicked off the event, leaving us all more than a little terrified by the security challenges and opportunities surrounding the Internet of Things. IoT was the primary topic of the AT&T Mobility panel as well. At dinner Tuesday night, investors were treated to one of John Yate’s infamous ‘fireside chats’ with Jim Robinson of RRE Ventures. Bob McCooey of Nasdaq was the closing keynote speaker, entertaining us with an inside view of going public and sharing trends and stats on the current market.
My personal favorite was the Liquidity Panel featuring Bill Nussey (SilverPOP – acquired by IBM), Reggie Bradford (Vitrue – acquired by Oracle), Tee Green (Greenway Health), and Wain Kellum (Vocalocity – acquired by Vonage). The four successful Atlanta entrepreneurs held a candid discussion about their experiences and challenges ‘getting the deal done’. Seeing them all on stage at once (plus Tom Noonan and Alan Dabbiere on the other panels) was a great reminder of our track record of successful startups.
What I really love about Venture Atlanta is that it represents the best of Georgia. The 33 companies chosen from over 150 applicants are among our best and brightest entrepreneurs. But it’s much more than that. Venture Atlanta has been a community effort since it’s inception in 2008 when the Atlanta CEO Council, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and TAG joined forces to evolve the CEO Council’s ION Venture Forum into a world class venture conference.
A quick glance at the sponsor list tells the story. The roster emphasizes the strength and uniqueness of our technology community. The money and countless volunteer hours required to host an event of this scale came from our area economic development groups, startup organizations, Venture Atlanta alumni companies, service organizations, investors, and even Fortune 1000 companies. How many startup communities have the support of industry giants like AT&T, NCR, UPS, Georgia Pacific, and Georgia Power?
Atlanta has all the key ingredients for a thriving technology startup ecosystem: talented innovators, world-class research universities, and a history of startup success. We are leaders in areas like security, fintech, health IT, marketing automation, and logistics. We have a strong base of Fortune 1000 companies here, which makes it a great place for entrepreneurs to find early customers and connect with industry executives for networking and mentoring.
But, it also takes money to fuel that ecosystem, and Venture Atlanta is helping connect our startups with that capital.
I heard nothing but great feedback from investors and entrepreneurs throughout the event. Several investors commented on the strength of our community. One startup told me they had 20 investor meetings. Another emailed me this morning to tell me they already had a term sheet. Awesome!
I look forward to chairing Venture Atlanta 2015 and I can’t wait to see what emerging innovative startups take the stage next October 20-21st!