So I spent the day today at StartupRiot.
First off, hats off to Sanjay Parekh for pulling this all together. It was better organized and better run than a lot of “mature” events run by professional conference organizers. And I don’t know what he used to threaten the speakers with, but people actually stayed within their three minute slots!
(I want to bottle some of that and use in our TAG Top 10 auditions next year, since the “three minute pitches” there tend to run five or six minutes…)
Second, the deals. Fifty-five deals in a little more than three hours. Some of them, to put it politely, needed a little more work. (Okay, some of them need to be ritually defenestrated while chanting “Hope is not a strategy!”) Some of them were quite compelling. Most, unsurprisingly, were somewhere in between. But, for the investors in the audience, there were enough worth looking at to justify the day away from the office.
Third, the format. Okay, some of the presentations were painful. But the pace was fast enough to keep me from getting bored… an occupational risk of most investment conferences. I think this proves that Sanjay was right on with the three-minute target. Truly awful presentations are obviously awful within the first 30 seconds. For six- or eight-minute presentations, I have time to wander out to the lobby and get a ginger ale and probably get caught up in a conversation with somebody. When it’s three minutes… heck, by the time I’ve made a snarky comment on Twitter and caught up with the Backnoise channel, it’s almost time for the next presenter! No reason to leave my seat.
Fourth, the community at large. I’m not sure Atlanta could have supported an event like this two years ago… I’m darned sure we couldn’t have supported it five years ago! I think today underlines the fact that Atlanta’s technology community is finally, finally past the post-Bubble hangover, and a new expansion is well underway. There’s a new generation of entrepreneurs building everything from Web 2.0 apps to RFID-enabled teddy bears. I love this community, and it’s great to feel the buzz generated by more than four dozen entrepreneurs in one room!
Again, my congratulations to Sanjay, and my thanks to the various sponsors for helping make this happen. My only question is… who’s going to step forward to run this event next year?