Big Sky Venture Conference an Outstanding Success!

Kudos to John O’Donnell, Gary Bloomer and the TechRanch team that, again hosted an outstanding Big Sky Venture Conference .

21 teams presented their business pitches to a rapt audience of Angels and VC’s all looking for the next great business idea. Teams came from Montana(4), Colorado(3), Idaho(1), Washington,(7), Wyoming(4) and…. Iowa! (1- way to go Iowa) and presented models that ranged from an ultra thin flexible keyboard to frozen babyfood (It was wonderful to see battle hardened VC’s scraping their sample cups for the last bits) to a way to manage the energy usage of your home when you’re away.

Congratulations to all who presented:

My personal guess is that several will be having further conversations with funders in the next few days. Stay tuned for news of successful funding!

Speaking of funding, thanks to the generous Sponsors who helped make this such a success

We also had the please of hearing from entrepreneur extraordinaire Andrew Field of PrintingforLess on what it takes to build a successful company. Lunch on Friday was highlighted by a hilarious "Top 10 Businesses that won’t be presenting at this year’s conference" by Russ Sullivan, Staff Director for the Senate Finance Committee. (Sen Baucus, I think you need to keep your eyes on this guy or you may be losing him to the next Comedy AllStars competition) He followed this with a discussion of taxes which brought us all back to earth.

The highlight of the closing cocktail party was a panel (can an interviewer and another person constitute a panel?) with Jonathan Weber of interviewing Brad Feld (you should subscribe to his blog and for those of you who will be receiving term sheets as a result of your presentations, you really need to read his comments on them ). Brad is an example that you can be brilliantly successful techy and still have a shot at a full time comedy gig when it comes to talking about starting companies and getting them funded. Brad recently helped organize a nation-wide boot camp called Techstars

If you’re an entrepreneur in the Big Sky Region and you think you have a business model that can become a global powerhouse, you should plan on submitting your company for consideration for the conference next year. If this year was any indication, which I think it was, next year will be bigger and better and a great way for your company to find that critical funding and advice to move it to the next level.



The Montana Future by Brad Feld

In 1991, a group of ten people (including me and Amy) gathered at a resort in Stowe, VT to have a Chautauqua to discuss the future. We had a magnificent weekend which included a field trip to Burlington to visit the Ben & Jerry’s factory (and all the ice cream that entails.)

One of the discussions we had was titled “The Montana Future.” All of us – except one couple – were living in Boston at the time. While the Internet was around (and all of had been exposed to it – including plenty of DEC-action), it was 1991 – pre-WWW, pre-Telecommunications Act of 1996 – where a 9600 baud modem was considered a pretty rocking thing.

I read Atlas Shrugged [Click to launch this SmartLink] in college 23 years ago. It set the hook hard in my brain for creating my own version of Galt’s Gulch. I spoke at the Big Sky Venture Capital Conference on Friday and it reminded me of the idea of the Montana Future. Amy and I spent the weekend in Keystone and talked about it some (and how we were living it.) I pondered it some more on my drive from Keystone to DIA this morning (1:45 – a new record by over 15 minutes – 500 hp is a nice thing.)

Full discussion:

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