VentureSouth Summit

VentureSouth 2017 Summit - the other activities

And lastly there are other interesting events going on at the Summit.

We're hearing from Proterra on how it's doing - an amazing example of the power of angel investing, economic development, outside capital, and tremendous hard work.

We're providing our updates to investors in our Palmetto Angel 2014 Fund - because startups have to answer to investors and so do we. Fortunately, we're reporting pretty good news.

And there's cocktails and socializing, challenging Q&A, passionate entrepreneurs, and smart investors. It's going to be a lot of fun.

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That about wraps up why we take on this extra organizational extravaganza between Thanksgiving and Christmas and why in this format.

Last year over 160 people attended and gave us great reviews (and some constructive criticism that we’ve incorporated into this year’s effort). We hope you can join us this time. Sign up here and we’ll look forward to seeing you next week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

VentureSouth 2017 Summit - portfolio review

Third (back off our soapbox), we are dedicating most of our second day to hearing updates from our portfolio companies. An absolute key part of angel group management is keeping track of the portfolio.

At an elementary (and yet surprisingly complex) level, making sure the right investors own the right things, cash is in the right place at the right time, entities are formed and administered at the right time. That’s what members pay for.

But at a more strategic level, you can’t expect a positive return unless you know what’s happening in your investment portfolio. This is (relatively) easy for publicly traded companies that publish quarterly data that you can monitor in your brokerage platform. It’s much harder for private companies. But on the flipside, there is much more you can do to help early-stage companies.

The VentureSouth team is primarily paid through carry: we really get paid only if the investments are successful. We are therefore focused on helping portfolio companies succeed. And obviously investors are too: if you just put $10,000 into a startup, you’re probably happy to make a few calls to help see that $10,000 again.

This help can take many forms and is too long for a blog post. But suffice to say now that hearing in-person updates from companies on what has recently gone well, what hasn’t, what’s next, and how we can help is helpful. We’ll be hearing from nine companies this month – and quizzing them and finding ways to help.

VentureSouth 2017 Summit - the economic development

(2) Our second main workshop is “Angel Investing for Economic Development.” This session aims to tell more people about why angel investing is critical to local economic development efforts.

Why are we doing this workshop? VentureSouth’s primary goal is to make good investments and positive returns for investors. Our motto is “Make Money. Have Fun. Do Good” – in that order – for a reason. But we do believe in the “Do Good” part.

This is achieved in many ways, but an obvious one is that early stage entrepreneurial communities are of great value – and you can’t have one of those without people funding companies.

There are a lot of people in the Carolinas whose job is to promote economic development, from the Department of Commerce, to community foundations, to trade associations, to city council representatives. Many understand the importance of early-stage companies – though the headlines are always on the large manufacturing plant or the multinational company office opening.

Early stage capital providers don't do a great job of explaining the importance of both entrepreneurship and capital to these groups. When we’re introducing VentureSouth to a new audience, for example, we usually discuss job creation data. Did you know that all net new job growth in the US is from early stage companies? It’s true, but you wouldn’t know that from looking at our website. The chart below should, we hope, remedy that.

Job creation chart.jpg

So, we welcome anyone with an interest in economic development, entrepreneurial vitality, job creation, wealth creation, and making the Carolinas even greater to come along to learn about a critical but overlooked way of doing that.

VentureSouth 2017 Summit - the education

Second, connecting informed investors and educated entrepreneurs is key to our business model: if either group doesn’t know how to operate, good investments and successful high growth companies are pretty unlikely to result.

Education is therefore a big part of our collective effort at VentureSouth. We do this during our meetings, on our blog, and, most importantly, through Venture Carolina, our “sister” non-profit that provides educational programs for entrepreneurs and, uniquely?, investors across the Carolinas.

Our educational content at the Summit is deep. The workshops being run are not 30-minute superficial chats to scratch the surface of a trend. These are half-day or full-day "events," with curriculum created by leading educators, delivered by experts in their field, tied to learning outcomes, and valuable whether you are just starting out or having been an investor or entrepreneur for many years. Our goal is meaningful and impactful education, not (just) entertainment.

So what’s on the menu this year?

(1) Post-Investment & Boardroom workshop. This is an Angel Resource Institute workshop, which combines the expertise of angel investors and the entrepreneurial depth of the Kauffman Foundation. The workshop is for our members, and for anyone else, that invest in early stage companies, and for anyone who has taken, or plans to take, investment.

We’ll be learning about common issues that arise after investment.

For an investor, how do we match the right board members with this investment? How do I keep an eye on and assist my new “asset” – help guide them on the right path without interfering?

For an entrepreneur, how do I keep my investors content while creating a great business? How do we all keep everyone aligned and moving towards our mutual goal of a great company and a lucrative financial return?

This workshop aims to equip both investors and entrepreneurs with the knowledge and tools to answer these questions. $99 invested today could save A LOT of problems down the line.

We’ll cover more on education in the next post.

VentureSouth 2017 Summit - the format

First, a key selling point of our angel group is that we have so many members – 240 and counting – who can provide an unparalleled depth and breadth of experience when looking at possible investments.

Unlike big groups concentrated in one city, however, our members are spread out, over a five-hour drive if you went straight from VentureSouth Piedmont in Greensboro to Salt Marsh Angels in Hilton Head – so arguably the concentrated power gets diluted by distance.

We’re at our most powerful when our diverse crowd of members meet, know each other, trust each other’s judgment and diligence, and work together effectively. Having everyone come to the same meeting helps do that – and so we very much appreciate the efforts of our “out of town” members coming to Greenville.

And we don’t envy the presenter having to pitch to a ballroom full of investors at this session.

VentureSouth 2017 Summit - why?

Having finished our October angel group meetings and all our kids’ Halloween candy, we are preparing hard for our final group meeting of the year.

In November, though, we change our operating model from monthly meetings in every town to a single large meeting in Greenville, SC – the VentureSouth 2017 Summit.

First, a quick pitch: you can see all the content and logistics on our Summit page here. Several of the sessions are open to the public, most importantly our three educational workshops - How to Pitch, Post-Investment & Boardroom, and Angel Investing for Economic Development. If you see something interesting, sign up and we’ll look forward to seeing you there.

But rather than sales pitches, we try to limit our blog to educational content, so thought you might like to hear why we run our Summit as we do.

There are dozens of startup, entrepreneur, angel, VC, and general tech conferences around the southeast – CED, Dig South, 36|86, ATA workshops, demo days galore, and countless more. So why a “VentureSouth Summit”? The next couple of posts will discuss a few reasons.