Venture summit likely to be a big hit
May 16, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
The White Sox battle
the Cubs at Wrigley Friday, but even with the Sox hot start, the
cross-town rivalry won't be the big competition of the day.
The real money game
plays at the Chicago Marriott on Michigan Avenue. That's where
the Midwest Venture Summit organized by the Illinois Venture Capital
companies take the field at the summit vying for the attention
and money of a host of venture capitalists and angel investors.
compete on the venture track, each seeking $3-million-plus in
funding. Eleven companies are newer ventures seeking initial or
Unlike a baseball game,
there can be multiple winners.
More than 500 fans
are expected to pay the $295 ticket price to attend the summit.
They'll hear play-by-play from keynote speaker Richard Karlgaard,
publisher of Forbes magazine and a venture capitalist with Garage.com.
Why care about the
Midwest Venture Summit when you could be at the friendly confines
sipping a beer?
It's simple. Traditional
manufacturing jobs are moving to China and India. The jobs that
remain will be in the knowledge economy. They require educated
workers. That's why Mayor Daley cares about our schools. Daley
knows you've got to be educated to play in tomorrow's game and
win a job.
Still, educating Chicago's
future work force is only half the equation. As those manufacturing
jobs migrate, we need entrepreneurs creating new businesses to
keep Chicago prosperous.
We need both education
and entrepreneurship. If we succeed in the classroom and in business
creation, Chicago will be a great city for the next 30 years.
provide the cash that enables entrepreneurs to take the risks
that create the jobs.
The Midwest Venture
Summit is the arena where the VC's connect with the entrepreneurs.
If an entrepreneur hits a home run on Friday and gets funded,
he or she will create more jobs locally than any ball hit on Waveland
Growing up in Chicago,
my heroes were the Cubs. My Cubs infield from third to first was
Ron Santo, Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert and Ernie Banks. The battery
was Ferguson Jenkins and Randy Hundley. The outfield was Adolfo
Phillips, Billy Williams and Jim Hickman. They were the stars.
These days, I think
the stars are John Willis and Avy Stein of Willis Stein; Keith
Crandell of ARCH Venture Partners; Bon French of Adams Street
Partners; Keith Bank of KB Partners; Bret Maxwell and Mark Koulogeorge
at MK Capital, and Carl Thoma of Thoma Cressey Equity Partners.
Other standouts: Steve
Beitler at Dunrath Capital; Matthew McCall of Draper Fisher; Bob
Geras of LaSalle Investments, and Robert Finkel of Prism Capital.
I shouldn't leave out
players like John Canning of Madison Dearborn Partners, and Bruce
Rauner of GTCR Golder Rauner, or Steve Kaplan, private equity
professor at the University of Chicago. Then there's Maura O'Hara,
executive director of the IVCA, who holds this bunch together.
There are 94 private
equity firms headquartered in Illinois. They manage more than
$55 billion in assets. In the last three years, they've deployed
more than $6.3 billion in nearly 1,500 deals, with $1 billion
in venture capital invested in Illinois companies. Over a 20-year
period, these firms returned an average of 13.7 percent annually
to their investors.
As Chicagoans become
better educated, these firms will back entrepreneurs who will
create the new jobs that will assure Chicago remains the city
Think about that when
you're singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" Friday
of Chicago professor Marvin Zonis speaks on globalization,
technology and U.S. prosperity at the Society for Information
Management lunch Wednesday at Spiaggia. Also Wednesday, the MIT
Enterprise Forum meets at Gardner, Carton & Douglas
to discuss accelerating growth through strategic alliances.
Electronics Association hosts a conference on best practices in
government IT contracting Thursday. Presenters include City of
Chicago CIO Chris O'Brien and Paul Campbell,
director-designate for the state Central Management Services.
Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.