RALEIGH, N.C. – As an entrepreneur, it’s not easy to separate yourself from the pack; it takes determination, laser focus and a whole lot of heart. For those who rise above, new challenges inevitably arise to stay relevant and scale against the odds.

For 30 years, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) has connected North Carolina entrepreneurs to the network, resources and capital they need to build successful companies.

This year’s CED Tech Venture Conference is scheduled for Sept. 16-17 at the Raleigh Convention Center.

The deadline to apply for this year’s event is Thursday. Click here for details.

Six hundred of the region’s most promising early-stage and high-growth companies, leading investors, and tech enthusiasts are expected to explore how the ubiquitous “Internet of Things” paradigm is increasingly blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds.

This is an opportunity to learn what the future holds for a variety of industry sectors such as Digital Health, Ecommerce, New Media, Big Data, and Ed Tech – areas which are poised for disruption and will have a significant impact on how we live and work in the years to come.

Below are four North Carolina entrepreneurs explaining the value of the CED Tech Venture Conference:

Justin Benson, Spreedly

“Spreedly has presented at the last two CED Tech Venture events. While we ultimately raised our seed round with money from outside the Triangle, the conference helped us build important connections to VCs with an eye on a Series A round. There are several other reasons why we find the event to be very helpful. First, it’s very hard to replicate the invaluable experience of telling your story live on stage in front of a group of investors and other participants. Second, you are also presenting to possible future employees and/or local partners- the HR and sales side should not be ignored. Finally, the more interesting and high-caliber companies that present, the more likely the visiting investor pool is to grow in the future. So it’s also a “pay it forward” strategy. See you at the conference this year!”

David Rose, PRSON

“Thank goodness I didn’t let the CED Tech Venture Conference 2013 fly past. Putting PRSONAS front and center at the two-day Raleigh gathering was one of the best decisions I’ve made . . . as a result, our young company generated: 1) More than 100 in-depth interactions; 2) 10 new potential partner and solid customer leads; 3) A radio interview with Business Radio X; 4) A speaking invitation at a prestigious industry conference; 5) An invitation to write this guest blog you’re reading right now; 6) Timely and relevant material for three company-generated blogs and 10 social media posts which will be read and shared for weeks to come. That’s a lot to accomplish for a two-day event! If only all my decisions turned out that well, I’d sleep a lot better at night.”

Matt Williamson, Windsor Circle

“It is often said that investors look for lines, not dots. Seeing an entrepreneurial company for the first time is a “dot.” Seeing that same company several more times provides more “dots.” Connect those dots and you have a line. When Windsor Circle first launched in 2011, we participated at the CED Tech Venture Conference as a Demo Company and provided our first “dot”. Our team and our seed investors provided some nice buzz and put us on the map as a company to watch. In 2012, we were excited to present at Tech Venture again to provide our next “dot” . . . being a Demo Company at CED Tech Venture has been a powerful tool for helping us establish our line, and we’re excited about what lays ahead.”

Phil Verghis, Klever

“Sept. 17, 2013 was a big day for us at Klever (Knowledge Lever). This was the day we were planning to exit our beta, go live, and the day we spoke as one of the 2013 CED showcase companies. Though it took a lot of time to prepare for both events, I dont: regret it one bit. Here’s why: 1) Exposure: As a relatively recent transplant from Boston, it was a good way to meet people in the local startup ecosystem; 2) Connections: On the demo floor, we met with two executives who have since taken an active part in giving us continued feedback. We made connections with prospective customers/investors/service providers; 3) Paying it forward: Another good reason to participate is connecting with fellow entrepreneurs who are in the same boat. It’s easy to share and give back when people are at different stages in their startup journey. We are looking forward to coming back in 2014!”

To be considered for a main stage Showcase Company pitch, all interested companies must apply by Thursday’s deadline.

A selection committee will review all applications and the official lineup will be announced in early August.