J. Kelly Hoey

Don’t Get Your Innovation Knickers In A Twist Edition

This is what a founder looks like:

Just back from Nashville and participating in the 36/86 Conference. After several rounds of pitches, audience voting and a final 5-minute pitch to a panel of 8 early-stage investors, Partpic founded by Jewel Burks, won the 36|86 Blackstone Award of $36,000 for best startup overall.

What is Partpic and why am I so ecstatic that Jewel won another pitch competition?

Jewel is busting stereotypes and building a scalable enterprise-focused technology company.

Partpic is an Atlanta-based startup designed to streamline the purchase of maintenance and repair parts using computer vision technology. Partpic has raised over $1 million in seed funding. As I noted, 36/86 was not Jewel’s first pitching success. Partpic was the winner of the 2015 SXSW Accelerator Enterprise/Big Data Division plus she’s won or come in close at pitch competitions such as LDV Vision Summit and TechCrunch Disrupt. If founding a scalable tech company wasn’t enough, Jewel also serves as an Entrepreneur in Residence for Diversity Markets at Google.

Will I return to Nashville for 36/86 in 2016? Most definitely — as long as LaunchTN sends me the dates before my calendar fills up! 36/86 was a well-orchestrated conference that was as equally valuable for attendees as it was for the speakers / panelists. I immersed myself in the conference for the one-day I was able to be there — moderating a feature panel on the main stage in the morning, then an afternoon salon session before taking my seat as an investor judge for the closing pitch final.

Let it be known: I moderated an all-male panel at 36/86.

However, before you give my M&A panel a congratulatory thumbs-up from The Hoff, take this into consideration:

  • The panel was an M&A case study: several Nashville-based tech companies (financial services and healthcare) have become part of the Blackstone Group through various high-profile M&A transactions — three of these transactions occurred in 2014.
  • Blackstone bought NYC-based Ipreo in August 2014 and Ipreo acquired Shareholder Insight, the Nashville based startup, in November 2014.
  • FYI: Blackstone is Shareholder Insight’s biggest client and when your biggest client expresses an interest in purchasing you, well, I want to talk about it.
  • Blackstone bought Nashville-based Emdeon, a publicly traded company for $3 Billion in 2011. Emdeon in turn bought Change Healthcare, a 7-year Nashville startup, in November 2014.
  • On stage, all suited-up, I had all of the relevant decision makers behind these four acquisitions: Blackstone’s Managing Director, Investor Relations & Business Development plus the CEOs of Ipreo, Shareholder Insight, Emdeon and Change Healthcare; and
  • I controlled the questioning and direction of the conversation. As moderator, I love diving in deep with a case-study conversation and ensuring the audience gets valuable insights — and the composition of this panel enabled me to do just that.

Do I wish my M&A panel was more diverse than simply in age, hair color and experience?Absolutely — and that’s because I want to see more female founders building scalable companies and having wildly successful exits!

However, let’s not lose sight of the context and content for the M&A panel I moderated at 36/86. Any founder who listened to the panel’s remarks would have had a pretty good idea at the end of the conversation of the pros/cons of being the CEO of a private-equity backed company and what you have to accomplish if as a founder, you have your eye on an M&A exit to a purchaser like Blackstone. I absolutely had the right panel on stage for that discussion.

Before heading to Nashville, I was on the Upper Eastside of Manhattan, addressing the Class of 2015 from Marymount School of New York. Perhapsmy remarks will encourage one of the 52 graduates (or their siblings in the audience) to become a serial entrepreneur, building scalable technology companies that cause by the likes of Blackstone to pull out their checkbook.

This post originally appeared in Innovator Insights, Kelly Hoey’s weekly newsletter. To get insights in your inbox, sign up here.


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