Open Angel Forum NYC Recap

Last week, I got a chance to be the guy on the ground for Open Angel Forum NYC.  First off, I have to thank those who made it possible—namely our sponsors and our host.  Six companies and twenty angels were able to connect up without the friction and artificial scarcity created by the “pay to play” model and it was all made possible by the good folks at Joyent, Cooley, and Winter Wyman.  Kudos to Joyent for just being generally aware of what was going on in the startup scene—they came through on the self-serve sponsorship page without even being pitched.  We were like, “What…  We have a sponsor already?  Really… oh, look at that!”

The team at Cooley is really ramping up their NYC presence.  Already a strong venture law firm in the Valley, they just recently picked up Bo Yaghmaie to help lead their Big Apple venture practice, so when I asked Bo for Cooley’s support, they were all over it.

Winter Wyman, a top local recruiting firm, has been a continual supporter of the tech community and their participation was much appreciated.  You can follow Mike Fitzgerald on Twitter.

We also owe much gratitude to the Jon Steinberg at Polaris Ventures, who hosted us in the Dogpatch space—and did the legwork for the catering. 

Once we got started with the pitches, one thing was immediately obvious—and pleasantly surprising.  Three of the six companies were led by female entrepreneurs.  That wasn’t done on purpose—we just sought to pick the best of the bunch—but it was encouraging to see.  Hopefully, it’s a trend!

The business models were equally diverse.  We had some seriously hardcore technology up and running, as well as some innovative business models where  the tech wasn’t the value at all.  In order to give the angels who where there an opportunity to talk with these companies before things get frothy, I’ll refrain from naming all the companies here, but it was a really solid offering.

This is something I was excited to be a part of, and I look forward to iterating on it throughout this year.  I certainly do have some concerns about the model—like scale.  We had a ton of great companies that we couldn’t invite.  What do we do with those?  Even more problematic was the number of angel investors who wanted in that I had to say no to.  That was really difficult, as many of them I had good relationships with—but others I didn’t know and wanted to meet.  We’ll have to figure that issue out, because NYC has a lot of experienced angels that aren’t well known that I want to get out in front of more startups.

Looking forward to doing at least two more of these in 2010!