Editor’s note: February is “State of Venture” month at WRAL Tech Wire. Watch for special coverage about the state of the VC industry all month capped by the Southeast Venture Conference in Tyson’s Corner, Va. The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Eric Gregg, who heads Triangle-based Tech Media, has another capacity-crowd event to manage on Wednesday and Thursday at the Southeast Venture Capital Conference in suburban Washington.

The sixth annual event has become a “must attend” showcase not only for startups and emerging companies seeing growth financing but also for venture capitalists trolling for fresh blood. More than 60 companies – an event record – are expected to make presentations in hopes of landing investors.

The Skinny caught up with Gregg, who also runs the news site Tech Journal South, to get an inside look at the big show.

This is your sixth event. Given the perspective of that much experience with the event, entrepreneurs and investors, what are some of the biggest changes you are seeing in this “ecosystem”?

One key dynamic that has changed is the cost structure it takes to launch a digital company today. With the development of the cloud, open source and other technology advancements – the time and cost to build out the technology behind a new Internet or other digital startup continues to fall. I think this along with the new “App Economy” is creating a nice wave of new startups in the digital space.

A quote from one of our keynotes that also speaks to that.

Marc Randolph, co-founder and former CEO of Netflix and currently a big seed stage angel investor in Silicon Valley says:

“To get Netflix off the ground it took eight months, more than a dozen people, and several million dollars. Today, any reasonably competent team of ‘twenty somethings’ could do the same thing in a long weekend. But while the speed, ease and cost-efficiency of starting companies has dramatically increased the number of new businesses, it has created a whole new set of challenges for those of us tasked with actually making those companies successful – not to mention the people responsible for funding them.”

Since the first dot com boom, you’ve seen institutional investors (venture capitalists) increasingly move away from the early stage investments, as they focus on making larger deals with larger funds. Fortunately, entrepreneurs have adapted by getting their companies to cash flow earlier in the process and as we discussed earlier taking advantage of the new cost structure to launch and build.

That said, there is still a capital gap for the growth capital many of these companies seek to get to that first round of venture capital.

We’re seeing angels and angel groups stepping in to help fill that capital bridge.

What are the most dominant themes entering the event? What do you think will be the highlight?

While Green-tech was the buzz a few years ago, digital and mobile are back at the forefront this year. We’ll have a number of exciting companies presenting and speakers like Netflix cofounder, Marc Randolph that will provide some unique perspectives so tough to narrow down to one anticipated highlight but personally I’m looking forward to just connecting and conversing with some very passionate and smart folks over the two day conference.

There seems to be as much if not more startup excitement in the Triangle than ever. Do you see similar situation across the southeast?

Sure, I think the Triangle is very fortunate to have the technology talent and resources in place to take advantage of this next wave of digital startup growth. We see strong startup activity as well in Atlanta and the greater D.C. market right now, but the Triangle area has some exciting things going on that is unique to this area.

I think we’re on the front edge of seeing the Triangle perception changed from that of a big corporate and University research driven tech community to one more driven by new growth companies – which is a great thing in my opinion.

What’s the mix of entrepreneurs, investors and service providers among attendees?

Attendance typically breaks into thirds between investors, entrepreneurs and other executives in the region’s innovation community.

We have attendees coming from around the US, good representation from up and down the east coast and even a few folks coming from Europe.

What were the criteria for picking presenters?

We try to provide a range of technologies and company stages that ultimately investors will find attractive.

How much help does Southern Capitol Ventures in Raleigh (primarily Jason Caplain and David Jones) provide in recommending and securing presenters and speakers?

We have a great partnership with them and as always, they provide some good insight on potential companies and speakers to have involved.

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