Techweek co-founder Jonathan Pasky is back, launching a new conference this fall targeting early-stage startups and investors.
Fund Conference aims to draw startups, speakers and investors from around the country to Chicago to discuss trends and identify business opportunities.
Pasky said investors are looking for new ways to back startups outside the traditional venture capital model. He noted that angel syndicates, equity crowdfunding and other concepts are gaining traction.
“What’s happening now is you try to throw your money out there in a lot of different areas and hope for some smaller wins across the board,” instead of the rare big wins venture capitalists shoot for, Pasky said. “This new model is starting to work, and I think there’s a really interesting conversation that Chicago can lead nationally.”
The daylong conference will take place Oct. 7 at the UIC Forum, with 1871 CEO Howard Tullman ⇒ delivering a lunchtime keynote address.
Pasky, an attorney and CEO at startup-focused law firm Pasky Gruber, said the event will be co-produced by his events company, Dev Network, and Chicago-based Venture Connects, which hosts events for entrepreneurs and investors. "This conference is a larger scale of what we are currently doing," Venture Connects CEO RJ Pahura said in an e-mail.
Tickets are currently on sale for $97.50 apiece, but will rise to $195 as the date approaches, Pasky said. Entrepreneurs who want to exhibit at the event can apply through Fund Conference’s website.
Pasky said he sees Fund Conference as complementary to J.B. Prtizker’s ⇒ Chicago Venture Summit, which is expected to return for a second time this fall.
“We’re a step below that,” Pasky said. “How do we grow the ecosystem so that we get there, or so that companies will stay here so they can get to there in two to five years?”
Pasky said he is interested in seeing reinvestment from Chicago’s community of successful entrepreneurs into the city’s newest companies.
Fund Conference will also differ from Techweek, the annual weeklong conference and festival Pasky co-founded in 2010, in scale and focus, Pasky said. He is hoping for 500 attendees, and wants to see geographical diversity in the event’s attendees, speakers and exhibitors.
Pasky left Techweek in 2012 to start his own law firm. He said he did not agree with investors’ decision to host Techweek festivals throughout the year in different cities. Rather, he envisioned one major conference that would draw interest to Chicago from around the country.
With Fund Conference, Pasky hopes to finally carry out that vision.
“If we can get 15 to 20 percent of attendees from outside of Chicago, that would be a great success,” Pasky said.