Big Idea Connectpreneur XVIII Part 2: What's Really Going on in Venture Capital?

In part one of our Big Idea CONNECTpreneur XVIII recap we provided an overview of Mark Walsh’s Fireside Chat with the one and only Tien Wong as well as the hot start-ups who pitched their ideas to a room of almost 500 attendees. Now it’s time to dive into the latter half of the event – the “What’s Really Going on in Venture Capital?” panel. We heard from a panel of diverse and experienced venture capitalists share their thoughts and insights about the current investor community and financial markets landscape. They also provided an inside perspective on the investors who are writing the checks right now. The panel consisted of:

  • Moderator: Jonathan Aberman, Managing Director, Amplifier Venture Partners; Managing Director, TandemNSI; Founder and President, Foundercorps – @jaberman
  • Elana Fine, Managing Director, Dingman Center Angels, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland – @elanafine
  • Kathryn Collings Laing, Principal, U.S. Boston Capital Corp.; President, Pear Tree Partners, L.P.
  • Pascal Luck, Managing Director, Core Capital Partners – @luckp
  • Kyp Sirinakis, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Epidarex Capital

A few key insights from the panelists:

On the unicorn phenomenon: The panel kicked-off with a classic unicorn joke, which set a great tone for the discussion. Panelists discussed how they would approach the unicorn phenomenon as an investor. Kathryn Collins Laing noted that when she evaluates a potential unicorn company, she always looks to see what deals have become unsafe due to evaluation. Pascal Luck raised the point that there are not many unicorn companies in the DC area. Though, in general if your company is pinned as a unicorn there is an immense amount of pressure because that means that they must have some type of technology that no one knows about – making it much harder to get your product recognized.

On how to grow a successful business in DC: Thriving startups in DC make money through identifying the niche in the market and building a huge business around it. Additionally, a lot of startups in DC have seen success in making money through their customers rather than investors. Panelists agreed that the three keys to success as a start-up are having an understanding of: the market you are playing in, the problem you are solving, and story you are telling.

On Silicon Valley (HBO’s version that is): Ever watched Silicon Valley? Well if you are an entrepreneur or investor, than you must of seen at least one episode. While the show has gotten great reviews and is entertaining to watch, we all wonder how realistic the show actually is. Panelists shared their opinions of the show and if they thought it was realistic and portrayed an accurate representation of tech startups. Elana Fine said that Silicon Valley shows a glimpse of the world that we all play in, but that experience is shared by a very small number of people (i.e. the valuation of startups in the show are very outlandish).

As always CONNECTpreneur ended with a great networking session where attendees were able to ask the presenters more about their business and products. I don’t know about other attendees, but I ran out of business cards by the end, which means to me that the event was a huge success!

We are already looking forward to attending the next Big Idea CONNECTpreneur forum on June 30th at Falls Church Marriott Fairview Park in Falls Church, Virginia. For more details, click here.

Let’s talk.