In the venture capital community there is always a buzzword, a hot topic that fledgling companies pepper their business plans with in the hopes of getting much-needed funding. Java appears to be the topic of this year, as the internet was last year. At this week’s Java Internet Business Expo in New York, a day-long event on Monday was devoted to the relationship between companies with a Java focus and the investors they seek. But while Java is a hot enough property to inspire Bay-area venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Beyers to set up a $100m Java investment fund, it doesn’t guarantee the interest necessary to win funding. The conversation at the Jacob Javitz Center quickly turned from technology to hardcore investment strategies, as people with money to invest aren’t likely to be swayed by buzzwords thrown at them. The odds are never great to begin with, as venture capitalists only strike a deal with about 1%-2% of the start-ups that seek funding. The assembled panel of venture capitalists were unanimous in stressing that proof of a product that solves a recognized problem, a demonstrable market for that product and the right people to get the product to market are what really concerns them. If your business plan doesn’t lead you into direct battle with an industry giant, that helps, too. The message of the day seemed to be that Java is certainly becoming an important area for investment, but it is not yet fully trusted. One only needs to look back at the adventure that Jyra Research Inc’s shares went through last week (CI No 3,230) to realize the current hype about anything Java-based. If a company can earn its keep for now without relying solely on Java-based products it can eliminate more of the risk for an investor, and that is what counts in the venture capital game.
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