The MIT VC Conference Really is “Here & Now”
Nov 01, 2010
Guest post from James Harland, a MIT Sloan MBA Class of 2011 student and Co-President of the MIT Sloan VCPE Club.
The time has rolled around for the annual MIT Venture Capital Conference, now in its 13th year. But with this year’s theme of “Here & Now: The Present of Venture Capital and Entrepreneurship”, we’ve managed to make some exciting additions to the schedule that we are excited will maintain the event as one of the top VC conferences in the country.
While planning this conference we heard some differing priorities. VCs would say: “the conference is great, but really what I want get out of this is good deal flow and a chance to find the next great MIT entrepreneur”. Entrepreneurs would say: “To be honest, I’m not that interested in the panels, but I need a way to meet a bunch of VCs and find students to hire”. Students would say: “I need a job! I’d love to be a VC, but jobs in cool start-ups would be good too. I also want to learn more about the industry and sound more credible when I talk to VCs in the future”.
With that in mind, when we started thinking about the conference this year, we had a feeling that the standard conference format (three sets of three panels of VCs as talking heads) was perhaps getting a little bit stale. So this year, we have made some changes in an attempt to freshen it up and provide real value to all our attendees.
- We’ve added two workshops focused on providing entrepreneurs with real and practical advice and insight. The Entrepreneur Pitch Workshop will be an opportunity to learn how to improve your pitch, with advice and live feedback on real pitches from sales professionals, VCs and the audience. The VC Deal Screening Workshop will provide entrepreneurs with an insight into the VC thought process to better understand the first five questions a VC will ask when given the a first look at your start-up. Both are also a great way to hear about some hot start-ups.
- The Entrepreneur Showcase (taking place the day before, 18th Nov in MIT Sloan’s new building E62 from 3 – 7, open to the public) is set up in a “Science Fair” format, and is a great opportunity for local start-ups to meet VCs and potential recruits. This event has been around for a few years as part of the conference, but this year we are adding Office Hours with VCs, lawyers and technical experts to facilitate entrepreneurs finding the information and capital they need to succeed.
- Rather than the afternoon keynote speaker, this year we are having an hour-long IdeaStorm. IdeaStorm has been developed here at MIT Sloan and is described as “a fast-paced, lightly moderated, high energy brainstorming session”. The entrepreneurs from the Entrepreneur Showcase will be presenting a “Founders Dilemma” which people will help think through some solutions to, as well as new business ideas, in groups of 10 – 15 people.
In addition to these great new features, we’ll have keynote talks from Brian McAndrews, former CEO of aQuantive which he sold to Microsoft for $6bn in 2007 and Steve Case, founder of AOL. And we’ve got some great panelists from firms as wide-ranging as Polaris Ventures, Globespan, General Catalyst and Highland. As organizers we’re really excited about all of this, and we’re really looking forward to it all being Here & Now.