The dating game
The road weariness showed on Rod Hosilyk’s face as he began his presentation to a panel of eight venture capitalists in Reno last week.
The talk by the chief executive officer of Reno’s Universal Combustion Technologies at the Silver & Gold Venture Capital Conference came at the end of a three-week swing that had taken him to one venture capital conference after another across the United States.
His goal: raising $600,000 now and $7 million early next year to get the company that develops pollution-control devices for diesel equipment up and running.
By contrast, Chip Evans was the picture of freshness as he sought investors to put $5 million to $12 million into GreenDisk Technol-ogies, a Reno-based developer of a new technology for computer hard disks.
The presentation, Evans said later, marked the first appeal by the young company for venture funding. In fact, he said, its executives had put the final touches on their business plan only two weeks before he stood in front of the deep-pocketed investors scattered around the ballroom of the Siena Hotel.
Universal Combustion Technologies and GreenDisk Technologies were among the northern Nevada firms that accounted for about a quarter of the 29 companies that made formal presentations and buttonholed potential investors during networking events.
Essentially, the conference works as a dating service at which investors and entrepreneurs can discover one another, said Jon Gregory, president and chief executive officer of Golden Capital Network, the Sacramento nonprofit that organizes the event. Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology and the Sierra Angels also were lead sponsors.
Representatives of about 40 venture capital firms and angel investment groups spent two days in Reno listening to entrepreneurs. Companies seeking funds ranged from cutting-edge technology safe social networking sites for teen-agers, for instance to distinctly low-technology.
Centennial Woods of Laramie, Wyo., for instance, came to the conference in search of capital to finance expansion of its business tearing down old snow fences along Wyoming highways and selling the weathered planks.
Among the technology-oriented presenters, Reno’s S.two was recognized as best of show among Nevada companies.
S.two has developed hardware and software for digital production of movies and television programs.
The company, which is looking for capital to finance its growth, already has cleared the start-up phase and its technology was used in the new feature film “Zodiac.”
Voted best of show overall was Clario Medical Imaging, a Seattle company that’s developed graphic display systems for use by diagnostic radiologists.
The companies that paid $700 each to make a presentation got more than contacts with potential investors.
“We used this as an opportunity to get our presentation ready and see how close to world-class we could make it,” said GreenDisk’s Evans.
Questions from venture capitalists helped hone GreenDisk’s focus. One wanted to hear more about the Reno company’s plan to find a manufacturing partner for its hard-disk technology. Another pushed Evans to detail GreenDisk’s competitive advantages.
After Hosilyk spelled out the plans for Universal Combustion Technologies, the investor panel had only one serious question: How fast can the company gear up to meet demand for its product?
The company expects to sell its pollution-control systems to construction companies and other operators of off-road diesel vehicles who are under increasing pressure from regulators to clean up vehicle emissions.
Under questioning, Hosilyk said one of his big worries is building a management team quickly enough to deal with the company’s projected growth.
The company, which raised $600,000 in capital to cover start-up costs, expects to use a good chunk of the next rounds of financing to fill out the management team and begin production.
After the conference and after he’d had a good night’s sleep in his own bed Hosilyk said the presentation didn’t lead directly to talks with investors.
But he said the company developed some new contacts, and he said the Silver & Gold Conference drew what he called “good quality investors.”
In addition, Argentum Law, the sister law firm of communications firm Argentum Partners, recently welcomed attorney Stacie Truesdell Michaels to its Las Vegas office.