Investors and entrepreneurs alike are scheduled to descend on the JW Marriott Hotel Washington DC on Thursday and Friday for Capital Connection, an annual conference hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association.

The breadth of industries represented will be substantial, but each year organizers select one or two for a closer look. Education returns as a topic this year, along with mobility.

Reporter Steven Overly will provide live updates from the conference via the Capital Business blog and through Twitter using the account handle @StevenOverly. Start the conversation now with excerpts from interviews with two local venture capitalists who invest in those sectors.


Roger Novak

General partner, Novak Biddle

Education investments: Blackboard, where he is lead director, as well as Capital Schools, 2tor, Intelliworks, Parchment, among others.

What key trend are you watching?

“The ability to recognize how children learn, and teaching them that way and at their pace is going to be in vogue. We do that right now for special education kids, but you’re going to see the day when every kid can have their own individual education plan.”

On childhood education:

“We’ll look at opportunities in K-12 but we look at them with a jaundiced eye because the sales process can be long and political and the best technology may not win.”

Is there an exit market for education companies?

“It’s hot as can be. That’s the one thing that worries me is all of a sudden there are a lot of people who have become interested in education. So does that mean prices are getting bubbly? I don’t see that yet.”


Charles Curran

General partner, Valhalla

Mobile investments: Jumptap, as well as several undisclosed firms

What key trend are you watching?

“The intersection of mobile advertising and mobile commerce. Mobile advertising is already proven. The money is just bigger in commerce than in advertising.”

So will people buy items using mobile phones?

“That’s the dream, but it doesn’t need to happen today for the market to be exciting. We think driving commerce . . . will be very monetizable. You don’t have to buy the Volvo on your iPhone to be a big business, but if you can influence the decision because you’re driving people to the Volvo showroom, you can make a lot of money.”