THE BLOG
08/13/2013 02:19 pm ET | Updated Oct 12, 2013

Silicon Valley Innovation Summit 2013 Insider's Guide to the Next Big Thing

AlwaysOn: President and COO David Thomson CFA,

"Who you know, what are they doing, when you know it...and what do you do with that Knowledge helps make you a leader" David

SVIS is the Flagship of events every year in Silicon Valley. After spending two days last month in the Silicon Valley Museum in Mountain View California the heart of silicon valley at the conference with power players, smart money, innovative leaders and young want a be geeks, I wanted to understand the role of the company AlwayOn, who has produced this gathering for the 11th year as an annual event that all of Silicon Valley participants wait for. So I spoke with David about the history of the event and what is in the crystal ball of future events.

The AlwaysOn event brings Most Valuable Players in all of the Silicon Valley. This event showcases the top 250 Innovated companies for the past year. It is held in the traditional way of imparting this valuable information, Key note speakers, Panels scattered with Thought Leaders and Important Star Players discussing how they became successful while most of us are in the audience listening, taking notes furiously and then wait in line to meet with the panelist before they disappear. If you are quick on your feet and lucky enough to be in the front of a long line, then you get about 1 minute or so to exchange business cards, with others behind chopping at the bit, and move along.

This interactivity is always important and the fact that we only get short time and snippets of conversation with leaders at a traditional conference somehow does not work, so how do we get to a better way to meet and speak with these thoughts leaders?

Well I learned from David about a new concept called Powerfest and interactive network where like kind companies can share videos about their project, new concepts using the internet and social media interaction, where participants created a two way dialogue at your own time and when you need it. AlwaysOn's President shared with me a new offering under creation and development called AOX. More to come about that powerful new collaboration under development by Tony's crew, and as he always says, "interactivity is always important but curating communities makes it easier for the user".
So the more people who use the Network the more valuable it becomes. AOX will allow even the newest player to stay relevant. This will be the start of a new way to produce events that has a different format. I call it deconstructing conferences and taking it one step farther than TED. The Always On crew has been producing events for years and all over the country so they know what folks want now. Taking the tone of "Birds of a Feather like to be Together" will be the underlying theme of this newly created format and I will be writing about his exciting new idea as the first conference gets scheduled.
Keep posted on my blog and I will describe the results of this new exciting Always On offering.

Duncan Davidson Managing Director
Bullpen capital


You know that I wrote about his company last week, but I wanted to go more in-depth since funding is the life blood of a start-up company and any company that it is the growth mode. In my opinion it is the primary reason that company leaders go to conferences, to meet supporters and fellow entrepreneurs who can help finds more funding or customers.

As I wrote the last time, Super angels, startup funds and early money make up the bulk of organization in the 1st round of funding. These groups find the best companies to look at through accelerator schools. We call this Startup 101, like a 3 month "grad" after Grad-school. When you complete your boot camp at these accelerators it is suggested that you and your company has learned these three things, Market Size, Found a Network Community to navigate the lay of the land, and a Great and Diverse Team to run the company , made up of former leaders of other companies who bring a successful past. The demarcation of this new paradigm really began with Crowd Funding, Social Media, which began to break down Traditional Barriers, hence bringing the grass roots into the startup world. These accelerators are just the new gate keepers who use the web and the insatiable appetite for funds to make a nice living off their chosen participants, and then sometimes place their graduates in front of a variety of potential investors who also pay for the privilege of meeting the entrepreneur
Duncan says that funds from this round with their advisors and investors is the time for that young company to bring their product to market for a test, see if there is fit for your product in the market. Now with the Crowd Funding opportunity, the Internet where product can be showcased with just a creative website, where the company can knock off technical risk, this money comes from the accelerators, friends and family which allow the company to launch something. Those first million dollars can get the product to market, and if one did not get it right allows the company to pivot into a better space or an updated product without too much damage.

Bullpen Capital is the next round of funds, say 9 -12 months from that initial funding, and 2-3 million dollars, it comes where there is a product in the market and a substantial idea that has found an audience. By continuing with help and assistance, Duncan's company Bullpen has a seat on the board, plus gives advice and brings advisors to help grow the company. By becoming a player in this space, Duncan has lead his company to fund over 30 deals the past two years, that has been 1 per month. Most of these deals come from seed funds which have been through those various new gates into Bullpen's world. Sound like a very solid idea. Good for economic growth and expanding the base for more opportunities. The next round is what Duncan calls the shovel money round, once that all of the testing has been completed and there is a broad acceptance of the product then that $10 to $20 million funding is for rapid build of business to control the marketplace. This is where all entrepreneurs dream about leading their endeavor.

Thanks for reading my view, more to come, I find technology an exciting view into the future.