I attended the LAVA conference in my role as a Venture Partner at California Capital Partners. There were some interesting sessions including one on new media moderated by Tony Perkins, and a great luncheon speaker Gerry of Ben & Gerry fame.
However, our primary reason for attending was to participate in the Capital Zone session. Conceptually, lots of investors in one place and entrepreneurs on the other side doing quick pitches on their companies. I guess one could think of it as three hours of Speed Dating for investors and entrepreneurs.
The problem was in the execution. First, there was music blaring most of the time. When the music stopped, we had to listen and watch the LAVA version of “Deal or No Deal” with all the noise and distraction of a game show. Consequently, while the show was on for 5 minutes or so every 10-15 minutes, most conversation stopped.
The first hour was supposed to be devoted to CEO or other C-Levels. It might have been but our problem was that they couldn’t tell us where our table was and finally had to realize that they screwed up and had to jury rig a sign and find us a place. Granted we applied late, but they did manage to get us into the program and did know who we were. In any event, we actually lost about a half an hour. The last hour seemed to be mostly service providers looking to sell something.
We did talk with some interesting and promising companies. Now the big test comes, how many will follow through and send the information we requested. I have gotten one so far, but that is far short of the number who said they would.
In a retrospective over dinner, we talked about whether this was worthwhile and decided that we just weren’t sure. A little lower music and nix the game show would have substantially enhanced our experience. After all, the idea was to meet and talk, which was very difficult.