If you stepped foot into the New York Athletic Club on May 24th for the New York Venture Group's monthly breakfast (www.nybf.com), you would've thought you stepped into a time machine. The room was absolutely packed with what must have been over 300 new media leaders and investors. The featured topic was "Alley's Newest Venture Firm Seeks Startups." It was like someone turned the clocks back 18 months; I thought I was dreaming.
The featured speaker was Josh Grotstein from Silicon Alley Seed Investors (www.sasinvestors.com), a new VC fund focused solely on seed and early stage companies that have not garnered an institutional round of financing. There are two types of early stage opportunities on which they focus: 1) companies that have demonstrated success with a prototype or Beta product requiring $500K to $2 Mill, and 2) seed companies that require $100-500K, as well as resources, insight and management expertise which SASI (nice acro, dude) would provide in their 'Founders-in-Residence' program.
There were quite a number of startup dotcoms running around the place. At an "investor event," dotcommers are the last people I want to talk to. I try to avoid my often-overzealous, entrepreneurial peers (the ones with red dots on their name tags) as much as possible, opting instead for the green, both literally and figuratively. At this particular breakfast, however, all I seemed to be running into were the less-than-sexy Yellow dots signifying lawyers, accountants and other support services. As unexciting as they may seem, the yellow dots are often one step away from the money, so they are always good to talk to. I guess the lesson is you should never judge a book by its yellow cover.
One of the most prominent sub-groups of the Yellow species was the executive headhunter - small surprise to see so many of them running around these days. I chatted with two exec headhunters of distinction: Michael Sullivan of TMP.worldwide (www.tmpsearch.com) and Norm Shulman of CMA Worldwide (www.cmaww.com), which specializes in technology execs. Looks like I'll be giving these fine folks a call when the money comes through - I'm no egotistical founder/CEO who needs to control everything! (or at least that's what they say I shouldn't be). Also in attendance were quite a number of business-plan consultants and coaches. I had the pleasure of talking with Gail Brennan of Venture Architects (www.venturearchitects.com), a firm that specializes in developing concise, compelling and accurate business plans and financial projections for private companies. Venture Architects' services run the full gamut of business-plan production, from idea to funding, including capital raising, coaching and financial projections.
More and more yellow. My string of Yellow meetings proved that perhaps all that glitters yellow is gold. Rich Shanley and the team from Deloitte were glittering in full force. I had the pleasure (as always) of speaking with Rich and meeting Michael Potorti, among others on the world-class Deloitte team. I'm so impressed with them that I think I'm going explore the possibility of my company becoming a client (if that's alright with Rich, of course.)
Last, but definitely not least, I met a Yellow-dotted gentleman who shares with me a deep bond which goes beyond all the money and success in the world: Joshua Glantz of the New York City Venture Capital Conference (www.nycventureconference.com). Josh actually drove 10,000 miles around the United States in a YELLOW! 1973 VW Bus. And I live and work in a 1973 VW Bus (Though it's white. Oh well.) We were like blood brothers! Well almost. :-) Josh gave me the scoop on the NYC VC conference set for July 8-10, 2001 at the Marriott Marquis, Times Square. The Conference theme is Catching the Next Wave - Financing, Structuring & Focusing Your Company When the Seas Get Rough. Featuring more than 100 speakers from the venture capital industry, this conference is a must-attend event.
So I don't know if all of this should be seen as an unhealthy attachment to the glory days of '99, or the prepping for a wisdom-infused new media renaissance. All I know is that Burt Alimansky and the New York Venture Group outdid themselves once again in throwing a fine investor breakfast.