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David Kaufman covers top trends from 2013 InvestMidwest

April 25, 2013

Chicago Corporate and Securities Partner David Kaufman published an article this week outlining the top five trends he saw at this year’s InvestMidwest Venture Capital Forum. The April 3-4 event, held in Kansas City, brought together 80 investors and 41 presenting companies, each touting their innovations in the fields of life science, technology, and food, agriculture and biotech.

Kaufman has worked in the start-up arena for more than two decades and has helped lead a number of companies from conception through public offering and sales. But as a new partner at Thompson Coburn and a first-time attendee at Invest Midwest, he brought fresh eyes to the event.

Here are the trends he saw. Click here to read Kaufman’s full article.

Entrepreneurship is alive and well
We may live in a still-rebounding economy dominated by large global public corporations and entrepreneurs on the two coasts, but the startup spirit thrives across the Midwest. These start-ups are not run by lone inventors holed up in basements. They are sophisticated, well-researched companies that solve real world problems and are ready for the next step.

Ecosystems support innovation
It’s not enough to have a great idea. You have to construct a supportive environment around an entrepreneur to enable him or her to push an idea from conception to execution. Investors inject capital, expertise and credibility. Lawyers and accountants step up with critical technical advice, professional services and business counsel.

We still need plenty of solutions
People like to believe that “everything that can be invented has been invented.” But from the incredible breadth and depth of InvestMidwest presenters, it is readily apparent to me that this belief would be mistaken. Presenters offered incredible technologies that support live-altering drugs, procedures, and products. Other innovations, like those from companies I saw related to fishing and travel, tackled problems that crop in more everyday activities.

‘Narrowcasting’: The new key to success
Let’s face it: Not every company can be Facebook. But for many start-ups, generating one billion users is not the end goal, nor should it be. This year’s InvestMidwest attendees talked a lot about “narrowcasting.” Instead of “broadcasting” your innovation to the widest possible audience, do some research and identify the smaller segment that needs/wants/cannot live without your product or service.

Capital is calling
My final trend is the one that may matter most to these and other innovators: There is plenty of money to be invested in the start-up arena. This year’s InvestMidwest was attended by investors with billions of undeployed dollars in capital.