Now going on its 35th year, the CED Tech Conference will host entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders from North Carolina and beyond next Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 25-26, at the Raleigh Convention Center to help shine a spotlight on growing startups and early-stage companies.
CED’s Director of Entrepreneurship Jay Bigelow said that from the start in 1984, this venture-type conference has served to highlight the entrepreneurial community in the Triangle.
“Over these years the conferences have evolved and changed, along with the companies and investors,” Bigelow said. “But at its core, it’s about highlighting the best and emerging companies in the region and trying to get investors and corporate partners to come to check them out.”
The Tech Conference was originally supposed to be held on Sept. 12-13 until Hurricane Florence scuttled those plans. Now it will run back-to-back with the annual CED Life Science Conference, which will pick up on Tuesday at the Raleigh Convention Center right after the Tech Conference ends before lunchtime and then continue through Wednesday.
Tech and life sciences were originally combined in a single conference, explained CED’s CEO Ravila Gupta, with about 200 attendees at the first event. That has grown into two standalone conferences with about 900 attendees each for the past couple of years.
Gupta said she’s excited to hear from thought leaders at the Tech Conference, such as Pendo’s Founder and CEO Todd Olson and Avid Exchange’s COO and SVP Steve Boehm. She’s also excited to hear from Wall Street Journal writer John Carreyrou, the author of the book Bad Blood about the fall of Theranos, at the Life Science Conference.
“But I am most excited to see the community come together in such a supportive way,” said Gupta, “which allows us to showcase this region.”
The conference will give attendees the opportunity to attend workshops, reverse pitch sessions, diverse panels and more. A new feature of the conference will be the TechCon AfterParty that will be hosted by Pendo at Raleigh’s Lincoln Center, which will help attendees make more connections and bring the community together. The event is open to tech company founders and employees even if they aren’t attending the conference.
Bigelow said in the future he hopes that they can try to have more companies that don’t necessarily need to raise capital come to the conference, and to make the event a bit more broad in what it offers for attendees.
Bigelow also explained that these conferences are not only about growing early-stage companies and networking but also about attracting more national exposure to show the great companies that are in the Triangle and North Carolina as a whole.
“Having these signature large-scale events where people come together from within and outside the region allows people to get a sense of the (entrepreneurial) ecosystem,” Bigelow said. “Which helps raise the profile of the ecosystem on a national scale.”