“The people I connected with just today normally would have taken me an entire year of asking for introductions, booking meetings and attending networking events to get in front of.”
These words, which were uttered late yesterday afternoon by a local venture capitalist in the lobby of the Ypsilanti Marriot, aptly summarize the quantity and quality of attendees at the 30th anniversary Michigan Growth Capital Symposium. Others in the crowd at the closing reception shared similar positive feedback about the programming and presenting companies.
And if you attended Day 2 of the Symposium, you’d likely agree.
The morning kicked off with a welcome and remarks from David Brophy, who founded the event three decades ago as a forward-thinker who realized the auto industry wouldn’t always be the industry driving the state’s economy. He introduced Reidar Langmo, founding partner and CEO of Novus Energy Partners, who provided an in-depth overview of one of Michigan’s emerging industries: clean tech.
Over lunch, Jay Hoag, who is a Ross alum and former pupil of Brophy’s, delivered the second keynote address on the state of the venture capital industry. As founding general partner of Technology Crossover Ventures who was involved with investments in Netflix, Expedia, BlueCoat and countless others during his 30+ year career, Hoag shared many valuable insights on the downfall of the industry over the past decade and why things are looking up now. In fact, Hoag predicted there will be 60 tech IPOs and 400 tech M&As in 2011 – and entertained the crowd by drawing a potential increase in VC deals to a growing number of Michigan football wins (though that remains to be seen).
Between and following keynotes, startups continued to pitch investors for funding, and also worked the crowd at the many company exhibits lining the lobby. The program was also full of compelling panels with expert insight from venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, government and academia, including discussions on the opportunities and challenges around investing in cleantech and best practices for leveraging the CFO within a VC firm.
The event closed with a networking and cocktail reception—one final opportunity for attendees to greet, meet and get to know the many important faces building the Michigan (and Midwest) innovation economy. Those who missed it may spend the whole year ahead trying to get in front of those people, or they can register early for the 31st annual event and read up on #MGCS on Twitter for a full recap.