As VentureClash enters its third year, we are expanding the competition by enhancing our outreach efforts to recruit more companies across the United States and internationally. From Munich to Edinburgh, Amsterdam to Nigeria, our team members utilized their passports and met with hundreds of companies.
Many of the visits were centered around conferences that allowed our team to network and connect with the most innovative companies in our target sectors: Digital Health, Fintech, Insurtech and the Internet of Things.
We sat down with Lauren Carmody, CI’s Director of Marketing and Communications, and Doug Roth, CI’s Director of Investments, to be regaled with stories of their travels.
Q&A with VentureClash’s Global Recruiters: Lauren Carmody and Doug Roth
Where did you travel to and how many companies did you meet with?
Lauren: I traveled to Amsterdam for the Digital Insurance Agenda (DIA) Conference. While there, I met with over 30 companies. I was also lucky enough to host a luncheon with 12 companies, one of whom was a semifinalist from last year’s competition.
Doug: I went to Munich, London, Edinburgh, Dublin and Boston all in 2018. I met with dozens and dozens of companies while traveling.
Why did VentureClash choose these locations?
Lauren: DIA is a global insurtech event that was brought to our attention last year by corporate partners and our own research. We decided to attend the conference for a second year as we found last year’s VentureClash winner at the event.
Doug: My travels were all centered around conferences with relevant companies. We aimed to visit locations that are similar to Connecticut, where there is a thriving entrepreneurial environment but also an ecosystem that is struggling to keep up due to a lack of venture firms.
How is it beneficial to meet with potential VentureClash competitors?
Lauren: We have already been introduced to 90 percent of the VentureClash finalists before the competition. We have already shaken their hand, met their management team and discussed their aspirations because we had the opportunity to travel to them and promote the competition. When we invest in a company through VentureClash, we are ultimately investing in their management team.
Doug: The success of early-stage companies is largely dependent on the people managing them. As their company progresses, they need to be able to adapt their business plan quickly. This is a dynamic environment and things will change; we need to be able to take a risk on a management team’s ability to adapt, which can’t be assessed without meeting people face to face. At the end of the day, a successful investment will be an investment in the people.
What were the challenges or obstacles you heard from the companies?
Lauren: The common theme is usually questioning whether their company is ready to expand to the United States or if Connecticut makes sense due to available recourses.
Doug: Every company needs money, connections and U.S. customers. They want to expand to the States, but they want to have customers, relationships and partners before they make that leap. However, it’s difficult for them to develop those relationships and a customer base without exploring the new market in-person. They are excited about the possibility of a U.S.-based investor, not only for their network of introductions but for their knowledge of the market to make the expansion less daunting.
In your opinion, how does this year’s competition differ from previous years’ in terms of international competitors?
Lauren: The quality of companies continues to improve from year to year. The first year we were just looking for companies that had some funds raised or potential revenues. Now, finalists and winners have significant revenues and have raised several rounds of funding. I expect to see the same out of our winners this year.
Doug: The first year was difficult because no one had heard of the competition. Each year we have made contacts that have allowed us to grow. This is VentureClash’s third year, and we are continuing to build deep relationships and develop a reputation. Our past competitors are networking for us, so each year we are building momentum due to word-of-mouth relationships.