Big Money Venture Investors and Trailblazing Corporate Founders to Gather for Vator Splash Oakland

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$10 billion in assets under management will be represented by notable VCs and super angels. Inspiration and education delivered from highly-funded tech companies JustFab, Indiegogo, Thumbtack plus Mayor Libby Schaaf on panel with tech diversity champions from Google, Pandora, Kapor Capital, Black Girls Code.

Founder, Thumbtack

Marco Zappacosta Founder/CEO, Thumbtack

Winning Vator’s first competition helped launch Thumbtack," said founder and CEO Marco Zappacosta. "It’s great to return on stage five years later, and hopefully inspire the people who stood where I did.”

Vator, one of the largest business and social networks for entrepreneurs and investors, will feature an ambitious array of top venture funders and groundbreaking company founders when its Vator Splash event returns next week to Oakland, California, which is receiving accolades as a fast-growing tech hub and closely-watched laboratory for addressing national concerns around tech diversity and equity.

Held April 22-23 at the Kaiser Center and the Port Workspaces at Lake Merritt in Oakland’s bustling Uptown district, organizers have attracted influential VCs and active angels to educate both startups and their investor peers. They will also be on stage as judges for Vator’s popular startup competition. A limited number of tickets are still available.

New on the agenda at Vator Splash this year is a Breakout Session Day, including an afternoon of what Vator founder Bambi Francisco calls “semi-private lessons” from prolific angels, venture capitalists, and seasoned founders and CEOs. To be held at the Port Workspaces at the Kaiser Center, the workshop day will consist of three tracks, holding between 40 and 100 participants.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors to be in an intimate setting with some of the startup ecosystem’s biggest influencers today,” said Francisco. “The chance to learn and connect with this powerful network is huge for our participants, as are the main stage presentations from top corporate founders who hit the jackpot and the investors that helped get them there.”

Panelists, judges and presenters include founders and partners from Khosla Ventures, Greylock Partners, Javelin Venture Partners, DFJ, SoftTech VC, Scale Venture Partners, Shasta Ventures, Base Ventures, Maven Ventures, Kapor Capital, Better Ventures, Illuminate Ventures, Structure Capital and Comcast Ventures. Also on hand are several leading “Super Angels,” (investors who use their own money to serially fund early-stage companies), including Ariel Poler and Gil Penchina. A “Startup Toolkit” track will offer a slate of speakers who will cover key topics for early and mid-stage startups, including building founding teams, legal, accounting, planning for office space, creativity, branding and more.

Highlights of the April 23 main day include:

  • Keynotes and fireside chats with startup founders including Adam Goldenberg of online fashion retailer JustFab, valued at over $1 billion; Slava Rubin of Indiegogo, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform and Marco Zappacosta of Thumbtack, the online local services platform that recently received $100 million from Google Ventures. (Thumbtack won Vator’s inaugural startup competition in 2009.

“To be back on stage at a Vator event at this exciting time in Thumbtack’s history is a kind of homecoming for us. Winning Vator’s first competition helped launch Thumbtack," said Marco Zappacosta, Founder & CEO of Thumbtack. "It’s great to return on stage five years later, and hopefully inspire the people who stood where I did.”

  • Accelerator Nation, a panel discussion featuring founders of four Oakland-based startup accelerators with unique business models. Included are ZooLabs (Vinitha Watson), DevLabs (Jose Lopez) Uptima Business Bootcamp (Rani Croager) and SfunCube (Emily Kirsch).
  • “When Will Tech Look Like America?", a panel discussion that includes Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Nilka Thomas and Lisa Lee, executives heading Google’s and Pandora’s diversity initiatives, and Kapor Center for Social Impact co-founder Freada Kapor Klein. Fast Company’s Evie Nagy moderates.
  • The top 8 startups in Vator Splash’s Finalist Showdown will compete on stage for $40k-plus in in-kind prizes as well as round-trip tickets on Alaska Airlines, plus 10 sit-down meetings with VCs.

“I’m proud to help produce an event that will continue to catalyze Oakland’s own tech ecosystem,” said Vator Splash executive producer Karen Wertman, who also co-chairs 2.Oakland. “It’s gratifying to offer programming that not only educates and helps launch great startups, but isn’t afraid to address tough questions that have global impact.”

National and local sponsorship of the event is being provided by KPMG, Kapor Center for Social Impact, Wendel Rosen Black & Dean, Javelin Venture Partners, Rackspace, Port Workspaces, Alaska Airlines, the City of Oakland, the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Gensler, Parelius, Bread & Butter Wines, the Lake Merritt Uptown and Downtown Oakland Associations, the Swig Company, Avison Young, Illuminate Ventures, Structure Capital, Base Ventures, Better Ventures, Scrubbed and Stratpoint. Other partners include Impact Hub Oakland, 2.Oakland.

Vator Splash - The international start-up competition and venture capital conference series brings together entrepreneurs, angel investors, VCs and high-tech influencers to discuss the current state of technology, innovation and investment.

Vator - Founded in 2007 by award-winning finance and technology journalist Bambi Francisco, the Vator media family includes Vator Splash; VatorNews, a news site boasting over 500 contributors covering the business and trends of high-tech innovation; Vator, one of the largest business networks dedicated to entrepreneurship and investors, Vator Competitions, a competition management platform and investment platform.

PRESS PASSES: press(at)vator(dot)tv

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Karen Wertman
Vator, Inc.
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Bambi Francisco Roizen
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