Attending the Recent S.E.V.C.
There was much one could take away from this past week’s SEVC Conference. Was it a gathering of Struggling Entrepreneurs Visiting from all over the Country? Or Smart English speaking Venture Capitalists looking for promising companies. How about Successful Entrepreneurs seeking money from Victimized Capitalists? The fact is, there’s some truth in all of those labels to this year’s Southeast Venture Conference. For a third annual, I was impressed with what appeared to be a packed house and few leftover badges. I was also pleased to see so many out of towners … yes, we will gladly take your DC, VA, NC, SC, ALA and even California dollars, regardless of what they may be worth these days. Overall though, the mood seemed cautiously optimistic.
With some solid speakers and 40 able-bodied executives spewing their corporate nomenclature, superlatives and differentiators, it was a nice gathering of companies worthy of attention, respect and in many cases, capital. I had a chance to sit down with one presenter, CEO & President Michael Bolick of Selah Technologies out of Pendleton, SC. While his company may have been the last on the ticket of 40 to present, Michael and his band of Selah Dot-ologists (I made that up) really have the kind of vision that gives you hope for a better day. Selah is in the nanotech space with a long-term strategy of cancer detection. I won’t bury Michael’s BHAG in my short blog about SEVC. It’s worthy of greater recognition, but just spending a little time with Michael left me with hope that better days are coming in our battle to fight cancer. Congrats on what you have accomplished to date. Looking forward to seeing the applications in play.
The highlighted speaker in my mind was Rich Karlgaard, Publisher, Forbes Magazine. Sadly I did not realize that Rich has an impressive history of entrepreneurial endeavors and accomplishments. He’s teetering on being a 21st century renaissance man. He shoots straight from the hip, like a young Clint Eastwood. He recommended we read The Forgotten Man by a soon to be Forbes Columnist that takes us back to the 1930s … that depressing period with little to cheer about except the amazing comeback of James J. Braddock. Here’s what I took away from Rich. The media exaggerate the world. No shocker there. Recovery will rocket back, but it won’t feel like it because the media will continue to sensationalize the still-struggling industries and parts of the country. The reason we will rocket back is that we are not in the 30s, but more like the 70s and the 70s were a heck of a time of innovation and discovery – Microsoft, Apple, Starbucks – three of the most iconic brands in the world today — surfaced in the 70s. Then Rich rattled off his top 12 attributes of recovery: Great Design, Speed, Supply Chain Mastery, Analytics, Self-Service, Low-Cost, Disruptive Innovation, Training, OpenSource Revolution, Customer Feedback, Virtual Innovation and Innovation of Purpose. The last one, possibly moving front and center with a Corporate America and Wall Street who have failed so many in recent months.
So as Rich said, while trust is lacking in almost every environment, if each of us focuses a little more on trying to do the right thing, in business and in life, maybe focus on what we have vs wimpering about what we don’t or what we used to have and maybe if we spend a less time with the news, lower ratings will force a change in tone … and all will be well.