02 Feb Follow the money
Applications opened yesterday for presentation times at the Midwest Venture Summit on May 20 in Chicago. The Illinois Venture Capital Association (IVCA) will be selecting only a handful of presenters out of the applicants to present to investors and venture capitalists.
Applicants will be reviewed by a panel of investors that has been chosen by the IVCA. The panel will consider the products that each company is producing and developing, as well as its finances, expenses, management, and growth potential.
Depending on the number of qualifying applicants, IVCA spokesperson Joe Poulos expects to see twenty or more presenting companies at the conference in May.
Interested companies must be based in the eight-state region of the Midwest. Most will be actively seeking capital and will already have startup capital, a proven business model, and the ability to show current revenue. Each company selected will be allowed two presenters at the Venture Summit, and they will be provided with booth space, pre-event welcome reception attendance, and expert financial, accounting, management, and marketing advice at no additional cost.
“Going to any of these types of conferences, the idea is to meet new people, share our services with them, and gather business.” said Sandra Napoli-D’arco, director of marketing and communications for Freeborn & Peters LLP. The law firm, one of those that will give preliminary advice, is based in Chicago.
Prospective attendees are looking forward to the chance to meet people and get the word out about their efforts.
“We are an early-stage technology venture firm that is involved in commercializing technologies that come from universities, particularly from the University of Illinois,” said John Banta, CEO and managing director of IllinoisVentures. “This is a great chance for us to mingle with other companies and investors.
“We’ll certainly have a change to compare notes and network with other early-stage investors, and we hope also to have a chance to showcase some of the companies we’re involved with, and see some of those that we haven’t seen yet.”
The event, which will be held in the Chicago Marriott, will focus on the selected companies’ presentations, mostly in the areas of technology, life sciences, and businesses. Throughout the conference, breaks have been scheduled to allow for networking, attendee reactions, and investor-to-presenter conversation.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people in the last few years that the networking opportunities in this conference are substantial, regardless of whether you’ re an investor, a company, or an entrepreneur on the fringe of this industry,” Poulos said.
A kickoff cocktail reception will be held the evening before the event for all registered attendees. The summit’s keynote speaker is Richard Karlgaard, the founding editor of Forbes ASAP, publisher of Forbes magazine, renowned technology journalist, and author of the “Digital Rules: Technology and the New Economy” column in Forbes.
The Midwest Venture Summit was started in 1999, with the merge of the Illinois Venture Capital Conference and the Great Lakes Venture Capital Conference of Michigan.
“It was really about trying to create the best possible events for Midwest companies and investors and to try to attract people from the coasts. Part of that was consolidating, since there’s dilution in creating too many conferences. Here, you have the greatest chance of getting the best companies to present, and also the highest quality of interested investors… Moreover, it’s a great opportunity for both he entrepreneur and the investor in the Midwest to see what each has to offer,” Poulos said.
The summit, sponsored by the IVCA, has seen enormous success over the course of its run, including last year’s Summit, which received over $30 million in aggregate funding.
“These things got pretty big in 1999 and 2000 when venture capitalism was really booming. In ’01 and ’02, the interest was a bit diminished, but the last two years have really picked up. There’s significant interest from investors and private companies,” Poulos said. “It’s really the convergence of the best of the best in the Midwest. It offers investors a great chance, and the entrepreneurs a chance to get in front of the right investors.”
Organizers hope that this year’s Summit will attract numbers which surpass last year’s 450 attendees. “Over the past few years, we’ve been able to figure out what works really well, what needs to improve, and to make those changes,” Poulos added. “What you’re looking at now is a conference that’s been going on for five years, and has a really sound infrastructure in place. Each year, we streamline the kind of portfolios we’re looking for in companies, and streamline how to reach out to investors.”