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May 29, 2008


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Top venture capitalists (and entrepreneurs seeking funding) converged yesterday on the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore for the annual Mid-Atlantic Venture Association conference, and you could practically hear the money sloshing around. Our one entrepreneurial brainstorm has always been to turn the glove compartment of our car into a mini-fridge, so we scribbled the idea on a napkin and showed it around, but no takers. At least we got to catch up with some of the 700 guests.


All stars: Valhalla Partners' Art Marks (Art, you look like Chairman Brezhnev with your ribbons), HarbourVest Partners Managing Director Brooks Zug, and New Enterprise Associates Managing Partner Peter Barris. Brooks told the crowd the venture market is firming after hitting a trough the last few years. "Based on its cyclical nature, I expect a rebound in the next four or five years." Peter's firm recently put $18 million into widget-maker Clearspring and is now investing in another company "working on technology that could change all utilities in the world." That would include utilities in Nevis, where Peter just vacationed (note tanned, relaxed look).


Core Capital Partners Managing Partner Mark Levine and Smith Defieux Capital Partners Managing Partner Tom Smith. Mark tells us he's excited about mobile device security provider Trust Digital, which Core Capital first invested in four years ago. The McLean-based firm just won a $380k contract to protect the Navy's mobile devices in the battlefield. Hope the returns are good, because Mark tells us he's saving money to help his daughter who just graduated from the College of Charleston.


Updata Partners co-founder and MAVA prez John Burton with Boulder Ventures General Partner Jonathan Perl. Jonathan is excited about Era Corporation, a Reston-based supplier of next-gen air traffic control for both the commercial and military sectors. The company has more then 100 customers on five continents. Boulder Ventures is moving from Owings Mills to Chevy Chase to be closer to the D.C. tech scene, and also keep Jonathan closer to his four children, including seven-month-old identical twin boys.


Red Hat EVP Alex Pinchev, Lucent-Alcatel CMO John Giere, Intel Capital's Mark Rostick and NeuStar VP John Spirtos. In a morning panel, the four shared tips on strategic development and gave an inside perspective on what qualities make them want to invest. "I look for companies with a steep revenue curve who have a novel product that can be easily distributed," John says. Alex says he's interested in finding companies with a solid strategic vision and an exceptional management team. Please give us a call, Alex: We've got a mini-fridge idea to sell you.

Bisnow tech guru David Stegon heads to a reception honoring CGI Prez Donna Morea and Bank of America Mid-Atlantic prez Bill Couper tonight. Say hi if you're at the event; or send him story ideas: david@bisnow.com; 703-674-7718.



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