An interview with VentureClash team members Lauren Carmody and Jessica Dodge
1. Now that Round 1 applications for VentureClash have officially closed, can you give us a sense of what is happening behind the scenes right now?
Of course. We get lots of questions about what is happening “behind the curtain” once the Round 1 applications close. It’s an exciting time, for sure. This year we doubled the number of global applicants competing for $5 million in investment awards. This is obviously wonderful news, but it means there is more work to do in less time, in terms of using our interim selection process to qualify candidates for Round 2.
2. Can you tell us a little more about what it takes to get to Round 2?
I can certainly share the basics: we spend a significant amount of time vetting applicant data to ensure they do indeed fall under the parameters of “Early Stage” companies, while meeting the additional requirements—from target sectors to operating history, track record of investments, and the real reason we started the VentureClash platform—a need to develop a Connecticut presence.
3. Right, so companies have to make an undeniable business case for moving some portion of their operation to Connecticut?
Yes. It’s more complicated than that. We are looking to connect the dots of business problems and solutions, of objectives and opportunities. Though it’s not always as black and white. For example, sometimes we see new technologies that have global proof of concept and profit, with substantive hints of larger market penetration. We can extrapolate results based on what we know about Connecticut’s economy, location, and more.
4. Does the VentureClash team ever disagree about potential Round 2 companies?
Absolutely. You have a lot of passionate people who have vast experience across different sectors, all of whom look at potential VentureClash winners subjectively. That’s one of the things that makes this contest, and frankly this state, so unique. Usually a difference of opinion relative to an applicant’s potential sorts itself out pretty quickly.
5. What would you say to all the VentureClash applicants who did not make the cut?
[Sigh] Stay positive. Know that we’re basically matchmaking here. This is not a traditional or linear competition for investment dollars. Our process and platform are geared towards attracting the right kinds of business to Connecticut. We like to think that means it’s right for both parties. Round 2 selections are based on so many factors, not the least of which are detailed research, authentic mentoring, elevator pitches, company visits, and more. The goal is to identify the prospects who are right for VentureClash; the prospects who are right for Connecticut, and whom Connecticut is right for in return.