Best Ever ACA Leadership Workshop Attracts 170 Attendees


By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

Last week’s ACA Leadership Workshop was the best ever, with a combination of great content, connections among investors, corporate leaders, and ACA sponsors and partners, and the opportunity to see how well the startup ecosystem in Ohio works. The Columbus Dispatch wrote that having the event in Columbus was good for the Midwest, but ACA would say that Columbus was good for ACA members regardless of their location.

I heard from so many attendees about the program and pull out these highlights:

  • Ohio TechAngel Funds dinner – ACA member and Leadership Workshop host moved the timing and location of their monthly investment meeting to coincide with the ACA event.  The result was a combined attendance of 200 plus in a fantastic room in the Ohio state capitol building.  It is always fun to see how different angel groups run their monthly meetings and this group does an exceptional job. We also had the chance to hear status reports from a few of OTAF’s portfolio companies – let’s just say they appear to be doing well and on their way to good exits. One of the entrepreneurs noted how interesting it was to talk below an exit sign (as in how to exit the building).

  • Keynote by Mark Kvamme – This alum of Sequoia Capital was based in California his whole life until he got an invitation from Ohio’s governor to run Jobs Ohio, an economic development initiative.  Mark recounted his many discoveries of smart investors, promising entrepreneurs, innovation at Ohio State University, and the quality of the ecosystem to support innovative entrepreneurs.  Not only did he accept the invitation, but he is now leading Drive Capital, a $250 million VC fund aimed at investing in the Midwest.

  • Buzz at Innovation Office Hours – It was a first-time experiment to connect corporate development experts with ACA member angels to discuss building relationships with portfolio companies, but judging by the energy in this room with private meetings, we’re off to a good start. Special thanks to Steve Baggott of Procter & Gamble for working with ACA on the idea and to the other five corporations that joined us – Autodesk, Cardinal Health, Dell, Dow, and Nationwide Insurance.

  • Great sessions and a library of 125 documents angels can use – There were interactive sessions on a number of important topics, from top M&A tips for angels to introduction of a new ACA certification program (to use for generally solicited deals), to supporting portfolio companies, to emerging best practices and tools for angel groups.  I particularly enjoyed  hearing Jason Kos, an expert in finding the right talent for many types of business, go through a personality analysis of angel Tony Shipley as an example of how to think through how personal traits fit for leadership of a fast-moving company.  The documents will soon be available for all ACA members in the ACA Knowledge Center.

  • Ohio State University – There is nothing like being on a university campus to see energy and activity.  ACA had the added fun of being at the Ohio Union, with a students, professors, and other guests teaming through the building.  The Ohio Union staff were especially supportive, the facilities were beautiful and comfortable, and we had several entrepreneurial students helping us operate the event.

Thank you so much to John Huston and Parker MacDonell, leaders of the Ohio TechAngel Funds, who led the event.  They brought great content, fun and local support to the event.  We also appreciate local host organizations which made the Leadership Workshop possible – TechColumbus, Columbus 2020, and the Technology Commercialization Office of The Ohio State University.

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