In its second year the Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies is expanding its horizons.
PACT, created by the merging of the Eastern Technology Council and Mid Atlantic Capital Alliance last year, is hosting its marquee IMPACT conference this November with a focus on luring in companies and content from other Mid-Atlantic cities. The conference has also partnered with AlwaysOn, a national technology news outlet.
We sat down with Conference Chairman and Duane Morris Partner John “Jay” Coogan to talk about his irrational love for the New Orleans Saints, the challenge in creating a conference this large and whether PACT is having trouble identifying with the early-stage startup.
What are your roots in the Philadelphia area and did you get involved in tech?
I came from NYC in 1992 to work for Novacare, but I wanted to be back in a law firm. As someone who parachuted into the market in their 30s with no connections in the [Philadelphia] market, I gravitated towards people without lawyers. Which is emerging and early stage companies.
We’ve never been to IMPACT. What should we expect this year?
You can expect to meet a range of players in different constituencies. There are entrepreneurs trying to make introductions and position themselves depending on where they are are in the arc of their capital-raising process. There are investors that will trade notes about the companies in the market. We’ll have industry panels on trends. There’s the vendors and service providers that want to do business and network with friends and clients.
It helps to know people there like any other group, but for the first time attendee there’s interesting companies giving presentations and high-end panel discussion where you will learn some stuff.
At the conference’s kickoff event last month, you mentioned that this year’s conference will have a more regional focus. How will you accomplish this, and why aim for outside of Philadelphia?
Thomas Friedman says the world is flat and one of the things on our to do list is to attract interest and capital from other regions while extending our cities reach beyond Philadelphia. It’s in everybody’s best interest to publicize the region, especially in emerging markets like Baltimore and Virginia to the south and New Jersey and New York to the north.
We often cover the very small business or startup. I notice they have a hard time identifying with PACT. Are you trying to attract this breed of entrepreneur? Or do you view it as a separate group?
We do want to attack the early stage entrepreneurs. It’s tough to do a one size fits all in a day in a half and you end up pleasing nobody. We do have special deals for entrepreneurs and we do deals through incubators like the Science Center.
If nothing else, a young company working on a kitchen table in an apartment in West Philly is probably not camera ready yet. But they can always to exposed to new ideas or a mentor that will give time or money. One thing I’ve learned about Philly is that the local VC’s want to see you a bunch of times before funding you and its never too soon to start.
Lastly, can I get a New Orleans Saints prediction?
I think we’re going to Indy [where the Super Bowl is hosted this year]. I’ll see you in early February.
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