Bizologie’s Top 5 Takeaways from Denver Startup Week 2015

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1. RTD takes you there. In a city known for cleantech startups, the array of public transport and light rail were the perfect companion for a week of connecting with the tech community. While most events were within walking distance of the Chase BaseCamp, Denver’s excellent transport saved many weary feet throughout the week.

2. Funding is within reach.   An event called VC for Breakfast offered direct access to a large and representative group of venture capital and private equity partners from the Denver area.  Once the panel of 15 VCs were introduced, the individual conversations began in earnest. This was a rare opportunity for entrepreneurs to engage a broad swath of the VC community in one open environment, a real benefit to startup founders who may not otherwise have a proverbial foot in the door.

3. Beer is your business partner. With Startup Week following right on the heels of the Great American Beer Festival, showcasing 154 Colorado craft breweries (and hundreds more from around the country), this plentiful libation lends local flavor and a laid back atmosphere to networking events. Beer is big business in Colorado and the breweries themselves are great examples of entrepreneurship to learn from.

4. Free business advice. Mentor sessions are typically a standard part of these kinds of events – local business leaders, bankers, attorneys, CPAs and seasoned entrepreneurs volunteer their time to meet 1 on 1 with attendees, offering years of collective wisdom and expertise.  I watched as one determined pair of startup cofounders made their way around the room meeting with every single mentor on hand, soaking up invaluable business advice.  With mentor session scheduled throughout the week, a tenacious entrepreneur could gain eight hours of free advice.

5. Social has support.  Social media can be one of the trickiest aspects of growing a startup business, especially if you don’t identify as part of the “digital native” generation.  Denver Startup Week offered several informative sessions with panels of social media, traditional media, marketing and public relations experts. They covered best practices and cautionary tales related to a wide spectrum of online engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders.

After wrapping it’s fourth year, Denver Startup Week attracted a record 11,000 registered attendees, proving this startup ecosystem is thriving and vibrant. If you didn't make it to the event this year, be sure to mark your calendar for 2016!

PitchBook publishes VC Fundraising and Overhang Report

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In the world of entrepreneurship, venture capital (VC) funding is paramount.  VC deals, especially those of the big, sexy, multimillion-dollar variety, are headline grabbers and the stuff of water-cooler conversation in towns like Austin and San Francisco. All that money has to come from somewhere though, right?  What about VC fundraising?  When a VC firm raises a fund, it rarely makes front page news.  Nevertheless, whether or not VCs are able to raise funds is a critical indicator of the broader health of the capital markets and how much money is out there for budding entrepreneurs.  For this reason, I was pleasantly surprised when a colleague emailed me a copy of PitchBook’s1H 2013 Venture Capital Fundraising and Capital Overhang Report.”

As the title suggests, the report looks at two metrics: VC-fund overhang and VC fundraising.  The first of these, overhang, is a measure of how much money in a private equity fund remains uncalled.  In general, as Mark Heesen of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) notes, a high-level of overhang signals a “potential bubble, as VCs, in their quest to find a home for this bucket of un-invested capital, would presumably fund too many companies.”  Conversely, low overhang results from poor fundraising and suggests anemia in the capital markets.

The second of these, fundraising, is a more self-explanatory metric.  Before investing in companies, VCs typically try to raise a fund of a particular size ($100M, $1B, etc.).  Once they have hit their mark, or have at least come pretty close, they start to invest the fund in companies.

Of these two metrics, the  report is primarily focuses on VC fundraising.  As such, the majority of the report is dedicated to discussing fundraising levels and trends from the early 2000s through 2012.  A discussion and analysis of 2013-levels of  overhang frames the report’s fundraising coverage.

The tone of the report is accessible.  You don’t have to have a degree in finance to make sense of it.  The graphics are rich, informative and approachable.  Furthermore, the report is very clear on what types of funds they are covering and those that they are not (e.g. the report doesn’t include angel investment or corporate VC funding totals etc.), leaving no confusion for novice readers.   Bottom Line: I’m a fan.  This report, when combined with info from the NVCA, helps to paint a clear picture of what's happening in the world of venture capital.

Get the VC Fundraising and Overhang report HERE

Get Pitchbook’s 2013 VC run down HERE

NOTE: pitchbook requires you to enter your contact info to download these reports directly from the site.  However, expert Googlers can get around this by doing a simple file-type search.