New Colorado Conference to Connect Top Startups with National VCs
Some of Colorado’s heaviest hitters in the tech industry and in venture capital will be at Coors Field this summer, but they won’t be there to watch the Rockies.
Instead, they’ll be there for the first Colorado Venture Summit, where they’ll celebrate recent successes, discuss future opportunities, and maybe make connections that will lead to future deals.
The invitation-only summit is scheduled for June 19 and is for VCs from inside and outside Colorado and for the founders or CEOs of venture-backed startups, said David Gold, managing director of Access Venture Partners and the chair of the planning committee.
Gold believes the summit is a first for Colorado and fills a niche. While there are events for entrepreneurs trying to launch startups and raise angel or seed capital, there aren’t the equivalent events for startups that have established a track record and are on the brink of scaling up.
“If you look at the many great events across the state of Colorado that are tech or startup related, there might be a smattering of the venture-backed founders and CEOs who have already raised capital [in attendance], but there’s not really an event that focuses on bringing them together,” Gold said. “That’s what the Colorado Venture Summit is about, bringing those folks together and attracting a large number of venture capital firms and bringing those two audiences together.”
The event is invitation only, but entrepreneurs who want to attend can ask for an invitation by contacting a member of the planning committee, Gold said.
The summit’s main event, an afternoon conference, is limited to VCs and the founders and CEOs of companies that have raised more than $2 million.
Not long ago it might have been hard to find enough entrepreneurs to make the conference worthwhile, Gold said. Not anymore.
“The market here has matured, and we really view it as probably the hottest tech-startup market between the coasts, and a lot of the data supports that,” Gold said. “It’s a hot area for startups, and now there’s a critical mass of enough companies that have raised venture capital to have this event and have a meaningful number of people there.”
The summit already has attracted some notable “A-listers,” both from Colorado and from outside the state. Local CEOs scheduled to speak at the conference include Walter Knapp of sovrn, Dick Williams of Webroot, and John Levisay of Sympoz.
For locals, it’s a chance to meet or reconnect with their peers.
“A lot of these tech leaders in our state, the people who are building and running some of the fastest growing companies in Colorado, a lot of them don’t know each other and haven’t met each other,” Gold said.
But there might be an even rarer opportunity to connect with VCs from outside the state without leaving home.
“Having [VCs from] out-of-state venture capital funds adds huge additional value,” Gold said. The state is “a significant importer of venture capital” and having VCs come to get a close-up view of some of Colorado’s most successful startups could attract more interest and investment, he believes.
There also will be a chance for attendees to hear how Colorado is viewed by VCs from outside the state, thanks to a panel featuring Adams Street Partners managing director Jeff Diehl, Siemens Venture Capital managing director Mike Majors, and Venrock Associates partner Steve Goldberg.
While the afternoon conference is the main event, there will be a dinner and afterparty in the evening where first-time entrepreneurs and founders of startups that haven’t raised money will be able to meet the VCs and CEOs.
“We also want to give first-time entrepreneurs the chance to meet and interact with those two groups in a way that would be hard to otherwise,” Gold said.