Every few months, Tien Wong – the CEO of Tech 2000 and Chairman of Lore Systems and Opus8 – throws the premier networking event in D.C. tech and investing, the Big Idea CONNECTpreneur. There’s no ingenuity behind the functioning of the event, yet every time Wong hosts it, the talent and intelligence he can pull into one room is phenomenal. Thursday, CONNECTpreneur will return to the Tysons Corner Marriott for what the Tech 2000 CEO expects to be the most entertaining rendition yet.
Highlighting the morning’s lineup, Joss Heavy Industries CEO Doug Humphrey, a legendary local entrepreneur who founded Cidera and DIGEX, will fire back and forth with Wong during the event’s fireside chat. “He’s the most colorful character in the region in the tech space,” Wong said. “There’s nobody like Doug out there, nobody. He’s an Internet legend, he’s founded and taken two companies public, he’s a very active angel investor – he’s the kind of guy that doesn’t go out and buy a yacht; he goes out and buys a British warship.”
With Humphrey’s experience and knowledge of the tech space, he also knows how to entertain a crowd. “He will be the most colorful speaker we’ve ever had. He’s larger than life. He’s tall, big, loud and he has a list of achievements to match his personality.”
Before taking center stage, a panel of investors will warm the crowd with insights into current trends in the local tech world and investment market. Moderated by the one-and-only Elana Fine of UMD’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, a well-rounded and deeply experienced group of Venture Capitalists give their take on the state of the industry. Wong said there will be representatives from “two of the most active of the most active groups in town,” Lenard Marcus of Edison Ventures and David Krauskopf of Blu Venture Investors.
Blu has made 22 investments in the last two years and the third panelist, Kevin Sheehan, just started Multiplier Capital, but is nonetheless impressive. “His resume is amazing as it gets,” Wong said referencing the VC’s degrees from West Point and Harvard. “He just raised $150 million of capital.”
And what would a D.C. tech networking event be without a few startups demoing their companies? Eight new ventures will have the opportunity to pitch to the room full of investors, whether they’re seeking new capital or just trying to introduce a new company. Those presenting will be APPNETIC, DeviceCloudNetworks, ManagheURID, Ostrato, RAI Stone, Reel Potential, SurePassID and XStream.
But more than anything, CONNECTpreneur is networking on steroids. Being in the same room as those speakers in itself is invaluable, but then add more than 270 other investors, CXOs and others from the tech field, with attendees from the likes of 1776, CIT GAP Funds, New Atlantic Ventures, and more.
“We’re gonna have a room full of high energy, exciting people,” Wong said. “I think it’s rare in Washington when you can get a lot of decision makers in a room together – it doesn’t happen a lot. We just try to put good people into a room together, you know. You put good ingredients into a gumbo pot, you have good gumbo.”
The event will start at 7 a.m. Thursday and run until 11:30 a.m.