What the VCs are Saying at DEMO 08

elton.jpgSince the vast majority of the companies presenting at DEMO 08 are startups, it goes without saying that they all need one thing: money. So there’s a number of venture capital firms in attendance. We talked to several VC reps about why they’re at the conference, and what they hope to get out of it. “The management is the key to anything you look at,” said John Elton, from iNovia Capital. His firm, based in Montreal, invests in cleantech, life sciences, and information technology. In addition to scouting for new opportunities, he’s here with two companies in iNovia’s portfolio, Standout Jobs, a site that helps businesses better recruit potential hires and LegiTime, which created an SMS messaging system for enterprise customers. (Pictured to the right are Elton and StandOut Jobs founder and CEO Ben Yoskovitz.) “As soon as I saw them, I knew they had a good idea,” Elton said of both companies. iNovia invested $750,000 in LegiTime last March and just announced two days ago that it has made a $2 million investment in Standout Jobs. Matt Chagan of Trident Capital hasn’t been to a DEMO conference before, but having been to other conferences, appreciates the format. “It’s a great way to see and understand what they do in a short period of time,” he said. “You have to realize that you’re showing up for [companies who are just starting out and unfinished products], but it’s good for understanding upcoming trends.” Trident, based in Palo Alto, California, has $1.6 billion under management in more than 120 companies, and invests in seed- and early-stage companies. DEMO, said Chagan, gives him “more of a chance to see the next generation of products, things that will be coming out 12 to 24 months from now. Just the fact that there’s so many video conferencing applications, it’s a pretty good indication that it’s a growing trend.” This is the sixth DEMO conference for Steve Elefant, of Soaring Ventures, a year-old VC firm out of Lafayette, California. Elefant believes that this year’s DEMO is better than the last few year’s, when “there were features looking to be companies,” he said. “This time, some of the presenters have the potential to be significant companies.” Soaring Ventures, which has $100 million under management, focuses on IT applied to Internet commerce, Web 2.0, and security. “We’re definitely looking for new trends,” Elefant, who worked in seven different startups before joining the fund, said. “Me-too investing doesn’t get you anywhere.”

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