San Francisco: This reporter was recently witness to two very different start-up networking events in the mecca of high-tech inventions, Silicon Valley: one local, one global.
The first was an annual cocktail party hosted by early-stage investor First Round Capital at Mezzanine, a warehouse converted into a pub in the tony South of Market area of San Francisco. An informal affair, “early-stage” defined the theme here, for the place was filled with angel investors, seed funds (that bankroll very early stage firms with small amounts) and young start-ups.
India has less than half a dozen active seed funds and angel networks; there were more than that in a single room that day.
Names there included True Ventures, Step5 Venture Partners and Baseline Ventures, the investment arm of Ron Conway, an early investor in Google Inc. and Paypal Inc.
There were a few with interest in India. Vineet Buch, who oversees India investments for Bluerun Ventures out of the firm’s Menlo Park, California office, was there sipping a beer and networking with start-ups. Mike Sigal, co-founder of Guidewire Group, which hosts the product showcase DEMO event twice a year, is in talks with Proto, an Indian start-up showcase group, for possible tie-ups.
Then, there was Josh Kopelman, managing director of First Round, an angel investor in Indian photosharing start-up ZoomIn Online (India) Pvt. Ltd, started by Sunny Balijepalli, his co-founder in Half.com, an e-retailer that eBay Inc. bought for $350 million (Rs1,501 crore) in 2000.
Twelve hours later and a few blocks away, the second event, a marathon matchmaking session began.
At a ballroom in Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, some 150 white tables with two chairs each were laid out in rows for matching top executives from technology and media heavyweights, such as Fox Interactive Media, Microsoft Corp., Sony Corp. and Verizon Wireless, with chief executives from among the 200-odd portfolio firms of Intel Capital, the largest corporate venture capitalist around.
The event, with close to 850 sessions planned, was part of Intel Capital’s ninth annual CEO Summit. The intent was to connect the Intel-backed firms with industry leaders, both for business advice and collaborations. Each got five 20-minute interactions.
Arvind Kajaria, founder of Mumbai’s Intrasoft Technologies Ltd, which runs the e-card site 123greetings.com, was matched with digital media giants Walt Disney Group, America Online and Sony. He is now in talks with some of them for content-sharing and other tie-ups, but says it takes up to 60 days for a deal.
But, “(these sessions) eliminate the time you spend getting to know them had you met them independently, and they take you seriously in this setting,” he says.
Namitha Jagadeesh was in San Francisco as a guest of Intel Capital.