SPELLNET Capital exists to help launch the next wave of great technology companies. We say, “Together we change the world”, but how does this really happen? TOGETHER is the key word. In my view TOGETHER a four part process: 1) connecting 2) listening 3) sharing 4) taking action. TOGETHER is easy to think about, talk about, and write blog posts about. In reality, it is NOT that easy to make TOGETHER happen. The effort requires a certain global focus, active participation, and a commitment to improve the lives and businesses of others.

I have found Mike Segal to be such a person in the world of private equity investing. Mike presides over an environment for connecting investors and entrepreneurs that is extraordinary, known as the MJ SEGAL NATIONAL BUSINESS INNOVATION & GROWTH CAPITAL FORUM. In its 18 years, the Forum has helped scores of companies with their fundraising and has contributed to the financial success of many professional angel investors and venture capitalists, myself included.

Moreover, Mike does it with a unique sense of style and integrity. There are so many things happening at the Forum that when it all comes together, I experience it as a symphony of connecting, listening, and sharing. That’s why I have given him the nickname “The Maestro”.

Here’s how a typical performance rolls out:

  • Dress up for the occasion: suit, tie, and good shoes are a must in NYC.
  • Arrive at the Yale Club no earlier than 11:30 so as not to be in the way as final preparations are
  • Check in and let the networking commence. Introductions and stimulating conversations
  • Lunch is served as Mike welcomes all to the Forum and the audience settles down.
  • Mike kicks it off with a review of the agenda and introductions of non-presenting companies.
  • There are 3 flights of 4-5 companies with 45 minutes of networking time between flights.
  • Entrepreneurs get 5 to 10 minutes on the big stage. Allocation of time is strictly enforced.
  • When all presentations are concluded, investor feedback questionnaires are collected.
  • The formal program concludes with a raffle for investors who submitted feedback.
  • The group reconvenes in the library for an evening of conversation, refreshments, and live jazz

One fine day at the Forum, I discovered Alyce.com, now our #1 private equity investment. For that story please read my blog post titled Alyce is Redefining Direct Mail, and it’s Magical.

On a more personal level, in the aftermath of successful business acquisitions in 2010 and 2012, I was feeling a void in my professional life. It was around that time that Mike invited me to come to New York. After my first Forum event in 2011, I realized that I had a lot to learn about private equity investing. Mike and I spent some time together and got to know each other. He surprised me a few weeks later by inviting me to a holiday lunch where he introduced me to Chuck Chesler and Jim Nichols. We subsequently became fast friends and colleagues in the ARC Angel Fund of NYC. Somehow, Mike sensed that I was ready to connect, and he made it happen without any expectation of personal gain.

SYNERGY comes when your energies are combined with others’ energies yielding unexpected results. SUCCESS comes when you take a chance on others, face the challenges together, live the dream, feel the energy, and experience the beauty.

Speaking of beauty, there is another side of Mike Segal that I am eager to share. TO BE CONTINUED …