In a year where change was unavoidable, we made change our motivator.
In January we set out to plan our 13th Venture Atlanta conference. By March, everything had changed. As with all events this year, we considered our options — to cancel, postpone, or go virtual. Our mission has always been to connect companies with capital, and we knew that our companies needed us this year more than ever before, so we decided in April to move forward full-steam ahead with a virtual event.
We weren’t quite sure what to expect, and we knew it would be more challenging than any event we’d done in the past, but it turned out to be the right decision.
Being fully digital meant we could reach more audiences than ever before. In fact, we had people tuned in from all over the world — including Canada, Japan, Curacao, and the Netherlands, to name a few. And although we couldn’t all be together in-person, we were determined to create an immersive, interactive, and engaging experience. According to the feedback from our attendees, this made the difference.
“Thoroughly enjoyed it! One of the best conferences of 2020.”
“Best virtual event I’ve experienced.”
“Miss seeing everyone in person, but this is the best virtual event I’ve been to in months. You can see the attention to detail and forethought that was put into it.”
“This was way above my expectations and surpasses anything I’ve seen in the past 8 months. “
“Incredible production quality and very engaging content.”
“Some of the best panel sessions and keynotes in Venture Atlanta history.”
And not only were we able to create connections and deliver a worthwhile experience to our attendees, but we also crossed some incredible milestones while doing it. Despite the challenges and uncertainties of 2020, we are thrilled to share that we saw record-high registrations and company applications.
Venture Atlanta 2020 by the Numbers:
- 1,200+ Registrations
- 400 Company Applications Submitted
- 103 Companies Selected (21 Venture Companies, 27 Early Stage Companies, & 55 Showcase Companies)
- 11 States Across the Greater Southeast Represented by Our Pitch Companies
And we can’t thank our speakers, panelists, and presenters enough for the quality of the content they delivered. We know the inspiration and motivation will move mountains in the coming years. And this year, more than ever, we’re proud to have been a catalyst.
Here are some of our favorite moments from Venture Atlanta 2020 Speakers:
“You can learn a lot from my failures. When you succeed, your failures are buried, and that’s unfortunate because people just starting can lose that connection with inevitable failures. My mother always told me that failure wasn’t the opposite of success, it was a stepping stone to success.” - Arianna Huffington, Founder of The Huffington Post and Founder & CEO of Thrive Global, on what aspiring leaders need to know.
“I don’t want a whole bunch of ‘me.’ I need someone to challenge me. I need diversity.” Dawn Dickson-Akpoghene, Founder & CEO of PopCom, on what she looks for in a great team.
“Here’s the thing about ‘no’: It’s one of the first words you learn as a kid, and it’s one of the hardest things to say as an adult. But ‘no’ is about focus and prioritizing, and I think it’s important to learn how to say no.” Jean-Michel Lemieux, CTO of Shopify, on his favorite word.
“The most powerful thing is relationships. 90% of our circle looks like us and if I don’t look like you, I don’t get to benefit from your relationships. So many of our black founders, our female founders, go from incubator to accelerator to incubator to accelerator just trying to gain traction. We need to be creating these safe spaces to fail and fly, where it’s of the community, by the community, for the community. There’s a power in being seen, and there’s a special energy in this city to do it.” - Jay Bailey, President & CEO of the Russell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (RCIE), on the incredible opportunities available in Atlanta.
“Our founding vision was that we’re going to solve the actual customer problem: It’s too hard to do all these things. The reason people buy Hubspot is because it's easy. And we’re standing behind that.” Dharmesh Shah, Founder & CTO of HubSpot, on how prioritizing the customer has made HubSpot one of the biggest names in marketing.
"There has been a backdrop of illiquidity in the markets. There used to be 250 companies that would go public, and there was a long list of banks ready to do that. Now that list is consolidated, which means 70 go public in a year. A lot of companies are looking for M&A and are leaping over the fence to go after the stock market. When I joined Accel, I could count on one hand the companies who had $100M recurring revenue. I look at our private portfolio today, and 30-40 of those companies are at that scale, and a lot of them will be private for some time. It's fascinating." - Andrew Braccia, Partner at Accel, on how the market has changed in the last ten to 15 years.
“When Facebook came in one day, out of the blue, saying ‘hey, we’re Facebook, we’d like to buy the product,’ we realized we were establishing a SaaS, under-the-wire sort of motion that could work. So we focused on that and built out the high velocity, high volume engine to understand how we could be a reference space for customers like Facebook. We wanted to know how to build a referral loop back into the business from existing customers. And just to give you a reference of scale, we got to a million ARR only on that.” - Dug Song on the critical inflection points of the “three-year” overnight success of Duo Security.
Missed out on Venture Atlanta Live Online content? You can sign up here to get access to our on-demand platform which houses all speaking sessions, pitches, and more ($99 for 1 month of access, $595 for one year of access).
Venture Atlanta 2020 Presenting Companies Lineup
This was our most competitive year yet for company applications. For the first time ever, we selected over 100 companies (and that was still only 25% of the total number of companies that applied). Additionally, for the first time in our history, we had more out-of-state companies apply than in-state showing how far we’ve spread through the Southeast.
Don’t forget: All Venture Atlanta 2020 presenting and showcase company pitches are available on-demand for a full year, and networking is open year-round. If you registered for VA Live Online, you can access all pitches and networking through the link you used to watch the event. If you never registered, you can still do so here ($99 for 1 month of access, $595 for one year of access).
Thank You to Our Partners and Sponsors
We couldn’t have done any of this without the support of our amazing partners and sponsors along the way — and we appreciate how everyone rolled with the punches and brought even more to this year's event than ever before. A special thank you goes out to our premier sponsor Invesco and our headline sponsors Cherry Bekaert, Nelson Mullins, and Truist.
AND NOW... Meet Your Venture Atlanta 2021 Chairman: Jim Douglass
We are so excited to announce Venture Atlanta’s next chairman, Jim Douglass of Fulcrum Equity Partners. A member of the Venture Atlanta board since 2019, Jim brings 25+ years of experience in operations management, strategic development, and high-growth financial services to the conference, and we’re excited to see where his leadership takes us in the coming year.
“There aren’t many conferences where you get really strong, centralized content in this capital spectrum,” said Douglass, when he joined the Venture Atlanta board in 2019. “But the early funds, the middle players, and the $500 billion funds are all here to see what’s going on in Atlanta. That’s a great place to be.”
And that’s a wrap on Venture Atlanta 2020! Remember that, with the All-Access pass, you still have access to content, pitches, and networking, so you can catch up on anything you missed and continue to make valuable connections. Simply visit the link you used to watch the conference. And if you did not register but wish you did, it’s not too late. You can still catch up on all things Venture Atlanta Live Online — including networking. It’s only $99 for 30 days of access to all of our keynote sessions, breakout sessions, and company pitches! For a full year of access, it’s $595. Sign up now, or contact us if you have any questions.
Finally, we can’t wait to see what 2021 brings. Stay tuned for what to look forward to next year by subscribing to our newsletter or following along on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Year 14, here we come.