- Dan Avida, General Partner, Opus Capital (ex-CEO Decru)
- Joshua Pickus, Senior Vice President & GM, Computer Associates (ex-CEO Niku)
- Tom Berquist, CFO, Ingres Corporation (previously Securities Analyst at Citigroup)
The two entrepreneurs had built real businesses and lived through the tech bubble of the late 90s. Their key advice was to look through the buzzwords and focus on building a real business. They were only interested in start-ups with the potential of being $100M revenue business in 5-8 years. Even though exit via M&A (Mergers and Acquisition) is a valid option to explore- it should not be your intended purpose as a startup looking to get funded.
They unanimously agreed that a startup pitching itself as a perfect acquisition candidate with no potential of being a business on its own is not interesting to them. Of course, they do evaluate startups as potential acquisition candidates but as they said "Leave that to us. Focus on building a real business."
The most interesting thing I learnt was how EFI was founded. It was a hack to get Canon color copiers to publish documents from the computer rather than from its internal scanner. This hack later became a 'print driver' software that EFI started selling. Today its a $600-700M business with 700+ employees. Dan was clearly a visionary entrepreneur and a very impressive speaker.