Jason Caplain, the well known local venture capitalist, a partner at Southern Capitol Ventures, has opened his address book for this year’s Startup Summit, which kicks off today at the Raleigh Convention Center. His hope is to introduce smart Triangle area entrepreneurs to sophisticated investors from around the nation and world, helping to solve this region’s capital drought.
Caplain will moderate a Wednesday morning panel with VC-recruits like Laura Witt of ABS Capital Partners in Baltimore and Silicon Valley and Dayna Grayson of NEA in Washington D.C. ABS is a past investor in Cobalt and Sequel and current funder of Rosetta Stone Inc. and NEA backed Evernote, Gilt, Groupon and Careerbuilder.com.
Silicon Valley-based John Burke of six-year-old True Ventures joins the pair with insight from dozens of high tech investments like fitbit, GigaOM, MakerBot, Plancast and GoodReads. Rounding out the panel is Mark Rostick of Intel Capital here in the Triangle, sharing the strategy of an institution looking for startups around the globe that support a corporate mission of innovation.
Caplain’s effort to attract outside capital to the Triangle is critical to growing our region’s base of successful startups. Local funding sources have been scarce since the recession, and entrepreneurial activity is peaking. The many startups forming each month won’t have a chance without an influx of new money from reputable and venerable sources.
Caplain’s carefully-selected panel represents diversity of location and focus of investment (early stage, late stage and institutional). Some panelists have invested alongside Southern Capitol. Some haven’t, but hope to.
That’s the coolest part of the panel — Caplain guarantees they’re all in town with hopes of writing checks.
Caplain’s advice to entrepreneurs tackling the Summit and attending the discussion is to reach out to as many speakers and panelists as possible in advance. Try to make as many introductions as you can at and during sessions. And soak up all you hear. It’s rare to have a conference in Raleigh with as experienced and insightful presenters.
Here’s the key question he hopes to get answered for entrepreneurs:
“Can they get funding?”
“They want to know what the panelists are looking for. What is their criteria and how do I get a hold of them? How do I stick out and how do they select me?”
Caplain and his crew take the stage at 9:50 a.m. Wednesday, November 7. He’s back again during the Internet Summit on Thursday afternoon, sitting on a 4:20 p.m. Internet Entrepreneurship panel with Andy Beal of Trackur, Alexandre Douzet of TheLadders, Brian Rich of Catalyst Investors and ExitEvent’s own Joe Procopio.