The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Posted:

1:27p.m. Friday Oct. 19, 2012 

By David Markiewicz

In a culture that can’t seem to get enough of TV shows such as “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Stars,” it’s not surprising that entrepreneur showcases can be fairly theatrical events.

At this week’s annual Venture Atlanta conference, conducted on a dramatically lit stage in a ballroom of the Georgia Aquarium, representatives of 40 local technology companies pitched their prospects to an audience of 700, including more than 100 potential investors from around the country looking to back a winner.

At stake: big dreams and big money. The goal for the entrepreneurs: make connections with investors that could lead to future meetings that could someday lead to the funding that could propel their companies to success.

“It’s about starting relationships,” said Spence McClelland, chairman of Venture Atlanta 2012 and principal at Noro-Moseley Partners, an Atlanta venture capital firm.

“It’s probably not realistic to think there are going to be term sheets (investment agreements) flying around after two days (the length of the event), ” he said. The success of the conference, he added, can be better measured a year from now, if and when companies are financed.

Radhika Subramanian, who as CEO represented her data analysis software company, Emcien, said follow-up meetings are what’s really critical to building a relationship and obtaining financing. She said she’d already made some valuable contacts.

While the availability of funding is always a concern among entrepreneurs, she said good ideas will attract investment dollars.

Entrepreneurs each made six-minute presentations in which they described their product, their market, the capabilities of their team and their financial performance to date. When they finished, they reminded investors how they could be reached.

Companies that have presented at Venture Atlanta, a nonprofit effort by the Atlanta CEO Council, the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Technology Association of Georgia, have raised more than $1 billion since 2002.

At Venture Atlanta, 20 early-stage companies with revenue under $1 million and lesser capital needs share the presenting stage spotlight with 20 companies further along in their development. Those venture-stage businesses, with proven track records, might have revenue of $10 million or more and be looking for $10 million or more in investment.

McClelland said a particular push of this year’s Venture Atlanta was to show off local companies to investors from across the country in order to boost their chances of getting funded: local investors can’t finance all the worthy deals, he said. The range of companies presenting was expanded to give investors a bigger selection to choose from.