Some of the region’s sharpest Internet minds converged at the Friday Center on Wednesday to actively network and unlock some of the secrets of performing profitable business on the Internet.

The inaugural Internet Summit hosted by TechJournal South, which was a sell-out, covered virtually all aspects of living and working in a connected world. The economy, innovation, business intelligence, forward thinking and the importance of leadership were among the underpinning themes.

Even in a volatile economy, more than 600 business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and marketers still see dollar signs and opportunity with new and evolving Internet trends, Web 2.0 technologies, and how industry as a whole can capitalize on shifting economic dynamics.

While many panel discussions noted how the economy continues to have an adverse affect on business, most remained optimistic that the Internet will remain profitable and continue to grow.

"In times like this, how do you remotivate yourself," pondered Bob Young, CEO and founder of and former leader of open-source pioneer, Red Hat. "If it’s not about growth, what is it in this economy? It’s really about execution.

"That’s what recessions are for … If you think of it from a society sense. It’s an opportunity for us to spend less time building mansions and more time on building, well-engineered products."

The Internet economy continues to grow and evolve with new business models, innovative ideas and new technologies. The Internet Summit spotlighted the spirit of prosperity in these areas.

"I’ve decided to come here today and meet some new people, share some ideas, see what everyone is doing and possibly find some new partnerships," said Don Kozak, chief technology officer at Lycos, who traveled from Boston to be a panelist in the social networks and communities portion of the event. "This has been a great event and very informative."

The event agenda was designed to cover all aspects of the Internet. Two rooms had consecutive topics going on throughout the day as attendees cherry-picked the most interesting discussions.

A keen point of interest surrounded financing – the availability of venture or angel funding and how startups can survive in a difficult financial environment.

“Venture capitalist companies absolutely must become cash-flow positive as quickly as possible,” said Kip Frey, an entrepreneur himself and now a venture partner at Intersouth Partners in Durham.

“There is less capital available right now and a lot less certainty in what funding will be available this round or the next,” he added. “We haven’t had any issues from our current portfolio making capital calls, but for new companies looking for funding, it’s a completely different world.

“My advice to companies looking for VC right now: have a plan that gets you to cash-flow-breakeven as quickly as possible with an investment syndicate that can arrange around the company.”

Subjects included blogging and new media, software-as-a-service, the Internet venture outlook, e-commerce ROI, marketing in a 2.0 world, Internet law, Internet entrepreneurship, social networks and communities, next-generation e-mail marketing, best practices for the modern infrastructure, the present and future of Internet search and mobilizing the Internet.

Each discussion provided insight into what’s happening now and what may happen later.

Presented by TechJournal South, Southern Capitol Ventures and the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED), the Internet Summit supports Web-oriented entrepreneurial activity, innovation and the resulting economic development of the Southeast.

With a sell-out in its first year, sources tell LTW that plans are in the works to put it on again next year.