There’s not enough space to mention everyone who was there but it was nice to see early stage funders out in force (JLA, Growthworks, iNovia, MontrealStartup, Sigma). It was especially nice meeting the 10 entrepreneurs who won the StartupEmpire contest, sponsored by Austin Hill and Flow Ventures. The packed audience was full of entrepreneurs and there was a real buzz about the event that comes with having 300 people simultaneously give each other elevator pitches all day long. Truly inspiring.
There were 3 important takeaways from my perspective:
1. Just Do It – I was really pleased to see the focus of the event NOT be on fundraising. I don’t think we need another event teaching people how to pitch VCs. But we do need more events that help entrepreneurs take those crucial first steps in their ventures. Bootstrapping seemed to be the word du jour.
2. Idea vetting – The pitch panel, where entrepreneurs gave elevator pitches, was a great way for entrepreneurs to learn that there’s no substitute for harsh criticism when honing your pitch. Entrepreneurs are always pitching, to co-founders, customers, funders, and many don’t take the time to practice until it’s perfect.
3. Finding Co-Founders – Many entrepreneurs I spoke with are looking for co-founders. Some are developers looking for businesspeople with specific industry expertise. Others are experienced in a particular field but aren’t programmers. We have to come up with a better way to match co-founders together.
Next week we’ll be at the NACO Co-Investment Summit where there will be 20+ funded startups pitching an audience of Angels.