I'm seeing a great pipeline of tech companies.
Each year for the past 28 years, CED hosts the region's Tech Venture Conference (TVC). One of the primary objectives of the conference is to provide a platform for the region's tech innovation companies to gain the recognition they need from investors - local, regional and increasingly national (last year's Innovators Report showed 75% of the investment deals for all of NC companies came from investors outside of the region).
Last week was "Selection Thursday" for this year's conference and I can say without a doubt this is the best crop of applications I have seen in the past three years.
More than 100 companies applied to either demo, showcase or both. The committee selected the best candidates from a pool of: 36 "mobile and data," 21 "e-commerce and marketing," 21 "digital health/healthcare IT," 8 "advanced materials/manufacturing," and 6 "media & entertainment" companies as well as a handful of others.
We are letting folks know this week which companies have been selected to be on stage (showcase) and who has been selected to demo. I am excited to see the relative "depth" in a handful of clusters. That said, long-term our region/state needs to become recognized for and build expertise in clusters that play to our strengths (see my last ExitEvent column).
Applications came from across the state: Charlotte, Triad, Wilmington and the Triangle. There were even a few non-NC companies interested in gaining the critical exposure this event provides. This is great not only for the state, but for the stature of the event in particular for our out-of-region investors. People traveling from out of state want to make the best use of their time and see as many companies that fit their profile as possible in the shortest time possible. The more we can make that happen, the more they will pencil this event in as a "must attend/worthwhile" event every year.
There are three general groups of investors who attend this event. Last year, you may recall, we co-hosted the Southeast Angel Capital Association (SEACA) annual meeting in conjunction with CED Tech Venture. As a result we had more than 150 angle investors in attendance. Naturally CED-TVC has always attracted the local and regional angels and angel groups (Triangle Angel Partners, RTP Capital, IMAF, Piedmont Angel Network, WIN, etc). By hosting the SEACA, we had angels from Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, etc. and based on feedback they provided, expect to see many of them back again this year.
The conference also attracts the regional firms (Bull City Ventures, Idea Fund Partners, River Cities, Lookout Capital, Fulcrum, TSF, etc.) and increasingly national VC firms (Starvest, Bessemer, Chrysalis, Grotech are a few of those that have confirmed) and increasingly, the corporate and strategic investors (GE Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Citrix, Cisco, Red Hat, Intel, etc.).
While all attendees will be at the convention center at the same time, each looks for innovation in different sectors and for companies at different stages of traction. That's why we have opened up the demo floor to more companies, while at the same time limited the number of companies that get showcased (stage time).
So no matter what stage your company is or what sector you focus on, if you are interested in meeting investors, make sure to attend the conference and network, network, network!
**Just out, the list of showcasing companies:
AnyCloud, Inc. (Durham)
EyeScribes, Inc. (Durham)
Guerilla RF (Greensboro)
inMotionNow, Inc. (Morrisville)
KnowledgeTree, Inc. (Raleigh)
nCino, Inc. (Wilmington)
Next Glass (Wilmington)
Royalty Exchange (Raleigh)
Stealz, Inc. (Raleigh)
Tethis, Inc. (Raleigh)
The Produce Box (Raleigh)
Valencell, Inc. (Raleigh)
Windsor Circle (Durham)