The heartbeat of the Silicon Valley is entrepreneurship. I’m pleased to report that the heartbeat is alive and well despite the economy, unemployment and lack of funding the PlugandPlay Expo was a testament that innovation and entrepreneurship is thriving. The lineup for this year’s venue was a mix of old school Silicon Valley leaders HP and venture capitalist Kleiner Perkins alumni presenting tips of wisdom to the eager fresh faced entrepreneurs that arrived by the dozens wearing team shirts, jeans, vans and sometimes a polo shirt and kakis. It was great to see venture capital veteran Kanwal Rekhi who has been a serial entrepreneur and investor to so many companies including Exodus Communications that our founder Donna Michaels launched back in the late 90s. Other key venture friends from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Intel Capital, Sand Hill Angels, Softbank Ventures, SVB Capital and others were also on scope for the next talent. It was not quite like America’s Got Talent but a lot of ways it ways. Give me your best two minutes of fame….or you might not get another chance…or maybe just not this year.
More than 400 innovators, investors and tech enthusiast packed PlugandPlay to get a glimpse at tomorrow’s tech leaders. There were close to two dozen presenting companies and a host of infomercials from sponsors which in our opinion a tad annoying. We came to hear from the cool companies not the PlugandPlay sponsors of their day to day operations…show me the beef! Remember the science fair at school? There were always the geeky guys that had the cool guys but couldn’t articulate and then there were the not so great ideas that had flashy presentations. Seeing through the smoke and mirrors is something that the VCs do well but LMGPR does well too. We have an eye for pinpointing the early stage companies that will be tomorrow’s leaders such as Exodus Communications, Ankeena Networks, Filtrbox, 3Leaf Systems, enkoo (acquired by Sonicwall), NetScaler (acquired by Citrix) and dozens of others. So looking for new entrepreneurs is always top of mind for us.
Some of the stand outs at this year’s event were Gameyola a social media gaming company fast on the trail of more established players like Zynga. Nutshellmail and micello also were stand outs in their solution and presentation. Also, was Twiki. Our friend Victoria Ransom, co-founder of Wildfire Interactive, gave an outstanding two minute presentation that surpassed 22 of the 25 presenting companies. Their proven advertising, revenue stream and no-nonsense way to run advertising contest for brand name advertisers such as Red Bull, Pepsi and others is a real best of show! We’ve met with the Wildfire team and know they are on to something big! Congrats to the Wildfire team!
After close to two dozen years of watching the what’s hot, what’s not in the valley, it’s quite rejuvenating to see so many eager entrepreneurs take a risk in pursuing their dream. The Loughlin/Michaels Group embraces the dreamer, the risk taker, the unsung hero and the super hero in all of us.
We applaud all those that presented at PlugandPlay for sharing their two minutes of passion with us!