What’s the key to eventual success as an entrepreneur? “Keep the faith and remain dogged,” Accel Venture Partner Alex Estevez said at the Bull City Venture Partners 2017 Venture Outlook event Thursday.

Estevez, who also keynoted the event, was part of the venture capital panel that concluded the morning. “I know so many examples of 10-year overnight successes,” he said. “It’s hard for everybody. Focus on your customer and keep at it.”

Accel, a $10 billion fund that started in the San Francisco Bay area and invested in big winners such as Facebook, now has an office in South Carolina and is looking for regional deals. “We like to write bigger checks because of the size of our fund,” he said.

Characteristics of a business that would interest Accel, he said, include entrepreneurs with “Go-to-market experience, the team experience and one where the customer provides the advertising and promotion.”

The entrepreneur and team experience are actually more important than the company’s product to Accel, he noted.

Michael Cristinziano of Citrix, which bought Raleigh-based ShareFile, said “We are primarily a merger and acquisitions company. We acquired 55 companies during my tenure.” Citrix also does corporate venture investing, but did only 25 deals over the last 10 years “With various levels of success.”

Cristinziano said Citrix “Likes to be a champion for our portfolio companies.”

Intel Capital’s Mark Rostick said, “We are a thematic investor,” meaning Intel puts its money in deals relevant to its own business, such as digital infrastructure and cloud companies. “We like to create a symbiotic relationship where we help a company take advantage of what Intelis doing and visa versa.”

IPO market to open up

Lisa Calhoun, a founding partner at Atlanta-based Valor Ventures, which invests in early stage companies and publishes Female Entrepreneurs magazine, said, “We’re very active with portfolio companies. We bring collaboration to the table.”

Rostick advised the entrepreneurs in the audience that “When you are looking for funding and talking to firms, you should be judging us as we’re judging you. Who are you bringing into the family? I’m not saying economics don’t matter, but it’s also about whether we are going to work well together.”

He also said entrepreneurs need to know who else in the world is trying to solve the same problem they are and why they’re better. “We invest in worldclass companies so show that kind of perspective.”

Cristinziano advised, “Don’t be shy. If you have an idea relevant to Citrix, I’ll get back to you if you email me or come up to me at an event like this. “

Looking ahead to 2017, Calhoun said, “I think it’s going to be a horrible year for early stage companies. A quarter of venture funds are too large to write early stage checks and last year angels invested 25 percent less than previously because the size of rounds increased. “Know what you are up against,” she said.

Cristinziano predicted that the IPO market “Is going to open up.”

Estevez predicts we’ll see “Continued activity from mainline businesses putting the cash on their balance sheets to work.”

Rostick, however, said cloud technology is driving massive disruption of industries. “It’s almost hard for venture capitalists to keep up. “ He also warned that “Global uncertainty” is a factor. “I don’t expect 2017 to be as robust as the 2013 to 2015 period,” he said.

Calhoun said she expects to see “More startup rollups,” which won’t necessarily be bad for entrepreneurs. But 70 percent of venture capital last year went into follow-up rounds, she pointed out. “They’re still building companies and first check writers are rare birds. Cultivate them.”

The VCs were skeptical of crowdfunding. “We haven’t seen a huge impact from crowdfunding,” Rostick said. He noted that some high profile crowdfunding failures in which products never shipped haven’t helped.

“Some crowdfunding investors are going to lose their shirt,” Estevez said. “I’m a little concerned about how they’ll deal with failure.”