Chicago showed its entrepreneurial spirit March 27-28 when Garage.com came to town and hosted Bootcamp for Startups. The two-day event consisted of intensive, high-energy workshops on fundraising, business development, recruiting, marketing and more. The crowd of 250+ entrepreneurs learned how to refine their business models, position & pitch their startup to investors and network with peers and potential mentors.
One panel that was particularly interesting was "Venture Capital Update," whose panelists consisted of Mark Achler, Warren Holtsberg, Mike Jablo, Matthew McCall, J.B. Pritzker and Guy Kawasaki, as moderator. The panel discussion was positive and the panelists said that the economy has not drastically changed the amount of deals they're getting done.
Guy Kawasaki, CEO of Garage.com, pointed out that most of the VC firms on Sandhill Road in Silicon Valley are doing about half as many deals now as they were doing in the heyday of the Internet. The panelists noted that the quality of deals they have seen has actually increased and that the real change in deals is valuation. J.B. Pritzker said that the valuation of a deal starts with the valuation of the last round and works down from there. Today, the panelists said they spend a good portion of their time working on their current portfolio as opposed to trying to develop new deals.
The panelists were optimistic and honest and the audience seemed pleased. A few of the other seminars included: "Surviving the Storm," "Why bad times make good companies" and "Let's Do Launch."
The networking opportunities were endless and many entrepreneurs mingled during their lunch hour. As always, I visited the sponsors' booths and collected a bunch of marketing goodies. The winning goodie goes to Garage.com for their laptop backpack--very fashionable!
Check back next week when I visit Comdex/Chicago (April 2-5).