InvestMaryland Wins Big, Raises $84 million for VC program

Last week, the State of Maryland became the first state in the USA to use an online auction to raise funds for a venture capital program.  The auction yielded $84 million, a whopping 20% more than the original forecasted goal of $70 million.  On September 24, 2011, I wrote a brief summary of the InvestMaryland program.

InvestMaryland will invest in the State’s promising start-up and early stage companies, as early as this summer.  The $84 million raised was generated through an online auction of premium tax credits to 11 insurance companies (including Hartford Insurance, New York Life, Chubb, GEICO, and Met Life) with operations in Maryland.  The inaugural round of investments will be made in innovative companies this summer through several private venture capital firms and the State’s successful Maryland Venture Fund (MVF),

Said Governor Martin O’Malley, “Our State is well-positioned to be a leader in the new economy as a global hub of innovation – a leader in science, security, health, discovery and information technology. That’s why last year, together with business leaders from across the State and the General Assembly, we chose to invest in our diverse and highly-educated workforce and the skills and talents of our people for the jobs and opportunity of tomorrow.”  

The InvestMaryland program is being implemented through the Maryland Venture Fund Authority, on which I am very proud to serve, as well as the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED).

Earlier this year, the Authority selected Grant Street Group to prepare for and run the tax credit auction and also recently selected Altius Associates, a London-based firm, to oversee the selection of three to four private venture firms to invest the InvestMaryland funds. The private venture firms will be responsible for investing two-thirds of the funds, which will return 100 percent of the principal and 80 percent of the profits to the State’s general fund. The remaining 33 percent will be invested by 17-year-old Maryland Venture Fund (MVF).  The Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA) will also receive a portion of funds for investment. Returns on the funds invested through the MVF will be reinvested in the program.

InvestMaryland has the potential to create thousands of jobs in Innovation Economy sectors – life sciences and biotechnology, cyber security/IT and clean/green tech and attract billions of follow on capital.

Maryland has an outstanding infrastructure to support an Innovation Economy. The Milken Institute ranks Maryland #2 in the nation for technology and science assets. According to study results, while Maryland received high rankings in human capital investment, research and development inputs, technology and science workforce, and technology concentration and dynamism, it lagged behind other states in risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure, demonstrating the need for InvestMaryland and other programs.

How will Altius select the Venture Capital firms?  Altius will be evaluating venture capital funds based on management experience, firm experience, investment performance and criteria defined in the legislation.

When will the firms be selected?  Venture capital firms will be selected starting June/July 2012 for a projected18-month period and make first round of investments in summer 2012.

What is the investment return to the State? The selected venture firms will return 100 percent of the principal investment by the State before taking any distribution of profits and will then pay 80 percent of the profits to the State.  Any returns on investments made through the Maryland Venture Fund go back into the fund for an evergreen program.

What is the projected average investment with venture capital companies? Investment will likely range from as low as $250,000 upwards to $10M.

Is there investment funding available from MVF?   Maryland Venture Fund will continue to invest in early stage companies (tech, biotech, clean energy) from $50,000 to $500,000 as initial investments.

Maryland Venture Fund Authority (MVFA) will perform a monitoring role to ensure that  investments and reporting meet the legislative guidelines.

In summary, as a member of the MVFA, and as a resident and business owner in Maryland, I am very excited to see this InvestMaryland program being implemented:

  • This program brings great benefit for taxpayers.  It helps create the jobs and companies of tomorrow and builds an economic climate where the most promising ideas and innovations have a chance to mature.
  • This is a win-win for all constituencies within the State of Maryland. Through this initiative, we can:
    • Infuse much needed capital into our seed and early stage companies
    • Recapitalize the State’s successful Maryland Venture Fund
    • Ensure no up-front cost to taxpayers
    • Provide a tax benefit to insurance companies who bid today, who can begin claiming credits in 2015.

Thanks for reading.  I’d appreciate any Comments or feedback you may have on InvestMaryland.

Featured image courtesy of Anosmia via Creative Commons.

Big Idea CONNECTpreneur Spring Forum, March 7, Tysons Corner, VA

LORE SYSTEMS is pleased to host one of the most exciting angel and entrepreneurship networking forums in the DC Region on March 7, 2011 at the Tower Club in Tysons Corner, VA.

Please come out!  Here’s the Eventbrite link:  http://connectpreneur1.eventbrite.com

The Big Idea CONNECTpreneur Spring Forum is a 1/2 day “NETWORKING MASHUP” of the DC Region’s TOP Entrepreneurs, Business Leaders, CXOs, Angels, and VCs.

Come see what happens when you put a group of “A List” business leaders and entrepreneurs in one room for a few hours!

This UNIQUE EVENT is like NONE OTHER in our region, due to the high quality of our attendees and participants, as well as our programming and unprecedented networking.

The Big Idea CONNECTpreneur Forum is an exclusive “mashup” of 170+ of the DC Region’s top entrepreneurs, business leaders, CXOs, angels and VCs.
Most of the attendees are “INVITATION ONLY,” and we are limiting service provider participation in order to maximize the experience for our Attendees and Sponsors.
Program Highlights:
  • “Hypergrowth – Zero to $500 million in 8 years” discussion
  • “Entrepreneurs with a Higher Purpose” panel
  • 8 Emerging companies seeking funding will briefly tell their stories
  • “Disruption, Disintermediation, and Destruction” luncheon discussion
  • Networking sessions before, during, and after the event
The venue is the Tower Club in Tyson’s Corner, Northern Virginia’s premier private business club.  A plated brealkfast and plated lunch are included.
AGENDA7:00–8:00 am – ARRIVAL / BREAKFAST / NETWORKING

8:00 – 8:05 am – WELCOME

8:05 – 8:45 am –  “HYPERGROWTH – ZERO TO $500 MILLION IN 8 YEARS!” – a conversation with Tony Jimenez, Founder and CEO of MicroTech
8:45 – 9:30 am  –  “ENTREPRENEURSHIP WITH A HIGHER PURPOSE”
Jim Cheng, Secretary of Commerce, Commonwealth of VA; Founder and CEO, Computer Hi-Tech Mgt, “Entrepreneur Turned Public Servant”
Dr. John Holaday, CEO, QRx Pharma, an ex-Army officer, Professor, and serial entrepreneur who has founded and taken 3 companies public, “Entrepreneur Seeking a Cure for Cancer”
Seth Goldman, Founder and TeaEO, Honest Tea, beverage industry innovator, “Entrepreneur  leading the Green Movement”
9:30 – 9:45 am – NETWORKING BREAK
9:45 – 11:30 am – COMPANY PRESENTATIONS
Fresh Tax
Pixspan
11:30 – 11:45 am – NETWORKING BREAK
11:45 – 1:15 pm – LUNCHEON DISCUSSION – “DISRUPTION, DISINTERMEDIATION, AND DESTRUCTION”
Duke Chung, Founder of Parature, CRM industry pioneer
Mark Walsh, Founder and CEO, GeniusRocket;  Chairman, DIngman Center for Entrepreneurship;  Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Union College;  Founder and CEO, VerticalNet
John Backus, Managing Partner of New Atlantic Ventures, Founder of Draper Atlantic Venture Fund, former CEO, InteliData
1:15 pm – MORE NETWORKING AND DEALMAKING
CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS (partial list):
Over 110 Entrepreneurs and CXOs, plus another 40+ angels and VCs including Core Capital, Novak Biddle, New Atlantic Ventures, CIT, Capital Source, NEA, Maryland Venture Fund, MAVA, MTECH Ventures, Maryland DBED, Ruxton Ventures, Opus8, VentureCross Partners, McLean Capital, National Capital, Starise Ventures, Dingman Center Angels, Blu Venture Partners, Blue Heron, Washingon DC Archangels, Fortify.vc, Endeavor DC, Private Capital Network, APPTEL, Stanford Venture Advisors, MD Center for Entrepreneurship, SunWalker Group, Skada Capital, Keiretsu Forum, CADRE.
EVENT SPONSORS:  


Winning by Un-Networking, the CADRE way

Have you ever wondered whether there was a better way to network with other professionals and peers?  Tired of getting business cards thrust at you and having to listen to dozens of elevator pitches at each networking event?  Frustrated at the lack of follow-up with someone you met?  Feel like you’re wasting valuable time going to the wrong events and talking to the wrong people?

Derek and Melanie Coburn may have found the better way!  They call it Un-Networking, and it’s practiced by the members of CADRE, the community of remarkable professionals that they founded earlier this year.

The idea for using the term Un-Networking came from one of Derek’s favorite business books, Un-Marketing by Scott Stratten. What Stratten suggests about marketing, also applies to networking. In the “typical” networking experience, most people approach others in a way that they would hate if they were on the receiving end. As David Siteman Garland says, a lot of professionals are looking for one night stands at networking events, instead of looking to connect with people with whom they can build meaningful relationships. Most people attending networking events are focused on themselves and what they can get out of it: Here’s my card, do you need what I’m selling, can we meet for lunch so I can tell you even more about how awesome I am, etc.? This approach doesn’t work for top-notch professionals.  Un-Networking undoes some of our existing habits and turns on its head what we have previously accepted as the “correct way” to network.

Un-Networking Lunches provide conducive environments for efficiently and effectively meeting other remarkable professionals who are also committed to developing mutually beneficial relationships. During each dutch-treat lunch of 8-10 CADRE members, each attendee has 5-7 minutes to tell the story about his or her business and how the group can identify potential opportunities. Lunches are moderated by Derek who, by intimately knowing each attendee’s business, can facilitate ideal connections and even chime in to add color to each person’s story.  Feedback sheets are filled out and turned in, and post-luncheon commitments are followed-up on and checked by Melanie to insure accountability.  This last part is key, as it’s the following up part of connecting that often fails.

And what is CADRE? “CADRE” is an acronym for “Connecting Advocates, Deepening Relationships,  Exclusively.”  CADRE is a group of 85+ (and growing) like-minded members who believe in giving first, helping others altruistically, and advocating for each other.  It’s a powerful concept that I have not seen before.

According to Derek, “The idea for CADRE really came about after I hosted a round table lunch in November, 2010. I did this regularly for my clients and strategic partners, as a way to add value within my wealth management practice. About five days after this lunch, which seemed like a huge success, I noticed that no one had really done any follow up. I couldn’t understand. So that evening, I sent out 35 emails re-connected the folks who had met that day. 15 meetings were set up, and at least five acquired new clients, either directly from one of the others, or via referrals. The light bulb went on.  I knew there could be real value in creating a business model that provided a system for helping successful professionals in following up with meaningful connections.”  I was personally so impressed by Derek and Melanie and their concept that I immediately signed on as a member and Advisory Board member, as well.  The experience has been excellent and very rewarding.  It is refreshing to get to know and interact with a group of A Players who believe in helping others, even before helping themselves.

The Coburns’ vision for CADRE is to bring together the best of the best, and adding as much value as possible for them. Derek says, “I feel like we are building a business from the outside in. Most businesses start with a clear offering, try to make money, and then worry about ideal clients, providing incredible service and building a great culture. We are starting with all of these and are excited about how it is unfolding. I recently read a book called Little Bets and it was all about trying a lot of different things within a business, and then build on the ideas that are successful. We are definitely taking this approach within our community. We are getting great feedback from our members as to what is working and what is not, and ultimately, they will mold the vision for CADRE.”

By revolutionizing the way networking is done and the way a startup can be grown, Derek and Melanie are certainly blazing new trails.  Judging by the tremendous buzz generated so far, as well as membership growth and member satisfaction, CADRE will be here for a long time.

What do you think?  Please share some of your best tips for networking and connecting. What works best for you?

Thanks very much for reading.  Please comment below and sign up for my Blog!

Featured image courtesy of Sean MacEntee licensed via creative commons.

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year – A Winning Tradition

Congratulations to Ernst & Young on their 25th Annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards gala, which was held Thursday night, June 16, at the Tysons Corner Ritz Carlton.  Great work by E&Y’s Debbie Kissire, Rene Salas, Herb Engert, and Erika Chambers.  You guys really know how to put on a show!

This awards program is the de facto “Academy Awards” of Entrepreneurship in our region, and brings together some of DC’s finest business leaders.  The impact of this pioneering program in celebrating entrepreneurship and fostering confidence, inspiration, and pride in our community is immeasurable, and we all owe a debt of gratitude to the great work of the E&Y Team for these past 25 years.

Ten years ago, Doug Palley and I won this award.  At that time, the company we had co-founded and built, CyberRep, was a leading call center/CRM provider with over 1000 employees and around $45 million in revenue in 2001.  While winning the award didn’t change our company, per se, the recognition from our peers was a real confidence booster for us, and a morale booster for all of our associates.  The best part, however, was becoming a member of the E&Y “family” and being invited to their Palm Springs national event every year, as well as participating in EOY alumni receptions, and just staying involved, etc.

Thursday night, I had the honor and privilege of returning as an alumnus to co-present the award for the 2011 Technology Entrepreneur of the Year to Kevin Mandia of Mandiant. The finalists in that category were Sid Bannerjee of Clarabridge, Tony Jiminez of MicroTech, and Craig Abod of Carahsoft Technology, all awesome entrepreneurs.

Winners in the other categories were:

Richard Fairbank of Capital One Financial (Master Entrepreneur), who thrilled the crowd with his story and a great acceptance speech which focused on the gratitude and appreciation of his family.

Tim O’Shaughnessey of LivingSocial (Business & Consumer Services)

Daniel Yates of OPower (Emerging)

Willy Walker of Walker & Dunlop (Financial Services)

Thomas Watkins of Human Genome Sciences (Health Services)

Warren Thompson of Thompson Hospitality (Hospitality Services), my former Virginia Baseball Club Partner, and owner of one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the USA.

Matt Desch of Iridium Communications (Telecommunications)

The best part of the night was the honoring, for the very first time in 25 years, of 2 Youth Entrepreneurs, including Liam McGhee, a NFTE student.  By celebrating entrepreneurship education, E&Y has taken the program to another level!