RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – When the Southeast Venture Conference discloses final plans for its 2009 event, Southern Capitol Ventures partner Jason Caplain strongly suggests that entrepreneurs plan to attend.

The Skinny couldn’t attend the second SEVC event, which took place a couple weeks back in Tysons Corner, Va. So we asked Caplain to offer some thoughts about the event both as a potential investor and an avid technologist.

How did you benefit most from attending the conference?

The best thing about the SEVC is the coming together of the technology community from a larger region. Not only was there incredibly strong participation from folks throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, but the conference attracted leading entrepreneurs and investors from Boston and Silicon Valley.

Despite the current economic situation, did the investment climate strike you as a good one?

I’ll let the sharp increase in attendance from 2007 to 2008 answer this question (More than 600 people showed up.) Clearly, there is still a lot of capital on the sidelines and investors continue to look for great entrepreneurs. We believe the markets are very efficient and great ideas or companies run by great entrepreneurs are still able to attract capital.

The event drew investors representing some $50 billion in capital – is there a lot of money to be invested and do you expect a good number of deals in the SE this year?

The Southeast continues to attract interest from venture capitalists in other regions and that interest level is strengthening every year. This should fuel a great year in the Southeast.

What companies created the most buzz?

Several of the companies drew some strong buzz. One in particular was Charlotte-based Yap, which is developing a voice-to-text translation platform for mobile phones.

What struck you most among the types of technology that you saw?

I think overall the conference highlighted how strong and diverse the southeast technology innovation community is right now.

Does there appear to be one, or perhaps two, areas in which the region is showing particular promise?

The region seems to be strong in mobile oriented applications and this was highlighted at the conference with several companies from that space. Defense and new media are also areas that are strong in the region.

Overall, what was the caliber of the presenting companies – more promising than last year?

This was one way in which the conference really stepped up. Not only did the event showcase more companies this year, the companies were the stars of the show. This is where the emphasis should be.

Most of the companies truly had high caliber management teams, unique technologies and in most cases have already proved investment worthy with the 40 presenting companies already having raised over $400 million collectively. It was really a showcase of the region and justified attendance from investors from all over the country.

Comparing SEVC to other venture conferences you have attended, is this an event that should be on the calendars of VCs and entrepreneurs?

No doubt about it. From the speakers, to the presenting companies, to the quality of attendees, I think SEVC has earned the well-deserved reputation of a ‘can’t miss event’ for investors and entrepreneurs.

(Note: The SEVC is put on by Eric Gregg and his team at SoutheastTech Journal, so a tip of the hat from The Skinny to our friendly rivals for a well-done event.)