Storming The Capital

Last week Bret and I had a two day affair (don’t read too far into this) to attend to at the SmartStart Venture Forum, in Albany New York. The event took place at the Desmond Hotel, an indoor metropolis resembling something out of Alice and Wonderland.  A perfect setting for a bunch of eternally hopeful and optimistic entrepreneurs to meet and mingle with the wizened, down-to-earth venture capitalists and angel investors.

Day 1 kicked off with a meet and greet. The format was pretty simple, the start-ups each had their own booth and the moneyed folks would walk around and ask very serious questions about your business.

 At Our Booth

We had a lot of interest and we guaged this by the number of people who kept trying to steal the golf balls we had on display!  There were also a number of other start-up companies with phenomenal products on hand. We had the pleasure of setting up shop next to the founder of Yuupon, Mary Song and learned about her travel website. All in all, a very successful day and so we retired to our room, exhausted from the days’ schmoozing, not to mention the 4 hour drive from Buffalo earlier in the day.

Day 2 kicked off bright and early – we awoke around 8am to our caffeine-infused CEO, Keith, lambasting us for not being up and dressed!  Keith had awoke promptly at 4 am to make the drive from Buffalo to Albany and he was fired up for the days’ events. We did a run through with him in the hotel room and I could tell by his expression he was worried.  If we had anything going for us that day, it was our good fortune in a getting a late draft pick (we were the last presentation of the entire forum) giving us a little more time to rehearse. My concluding remarks would be the last remarks uttered on stage (what an honor!). I envisioned releasing butterflies into the crowd, the flapping of their wings gently carrying my words into the ears of those in attendance. After the speech resonated, I could see their faces blossoming with joy, the kind of joy a spring flower feels the first time it hears the the buzz of a bee close by.  And I was hoping to hear checkbooks opening and see funds being thrown onstage to the roar of the crowd – “OnCore, OnCore”!!

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Fantasies aside, the speech was a hit! Bret nailed his Chi Chi Rodriguez impression and the crowd erupted in laughter- even though by his own admission he sounded more like a “French Robert Deniro”. We ended up winning “Honorable Mention for Best Presentation” and the rest is history.