Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fledgling Tech Firms Make Pitch to Venture Capitalists

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fledgling Tech Firms Make Pitch to Venture Capitalists

Article excerpt

On Tuesday afternoon in Pittsburgh, it was all about passion for Christopher Langford.

Mr. Langford, 36, who is director of Lowe's Venture Capital, said that only a minute into any given entrepreneur's pitch, he can tell whether the idea has any value. In the next two allotted minutes of such presentations, he wants to know how well the startup company's principals can work together and whether they have a real commitment to the idea they're trying to fund.

"I've heard the same ideas many times," said Mr. Langford, who crisscrosses the country in search of investment opportunities on behalf of the Mooresville, N.C.-based company best known for patio furniture, dehumidifiers, drywall and other building supplies. "Do they have real passion, the drive to solve a problem?

"For us, that's huge."

It was Mr. Langford's third trip to Pittsburgh to sound out investment opportunities at the Three Rivers Venture Fair held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, and knowing what was going on inside his head as he listened to pitches for new companies would be valuable information to have. He was feeling optimistic.

A record 700 people registered for the two-day event, which included about 150 people with an idea for a new business. The Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association sponsored the event meant to connect entrepreneurs and people like Mr. Langford. Tech companies showcased since the fairs began in 2002 have gone on to raise more than $675 million in capital, according to the Bridgeville-based association.

Among those hoping to score backing at this year's event was physician-turned-entrepreneur Craig Liden of Gibsonia, CEO and co- founder of Obsevera Inc., an online test that can "objectively assess the risk and enhance the treatment of attention deficit disorder in individuals 5 to 95," according to a marketing brochure.

Dr. Liden, who said he runs what is probably the biggest attention deficit disorder clinic on the East Coast, delivered his three-minute elevator speech about his company to Adrian Fortino, partner at the Houston, Texas-based Mercury Fund, a seed and early stage capital investment firm. …

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