- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2000

Venture capital firms eager to invest in start-up technology companies are having an increasingly difficult time when it comes to knowing for sure when they have found an attractive candidate.
That's where Ventera Corp. comes in.
Ventera Corp., a McLean company that began operating in 1996, at first focused all its attention on catering to start-up companies that needed Web hosting, network architecture and systems integration.
Enter the venture capitalists at MRW Enterprises. MRW asked Ventera to assess the technology infrastructure of start-ups in which it planned to invest.
"They [MRW] found that coming to a company that actually builds these systems and software aspects would be the perfect company to come in and do a technology assessment," said Brian Stygar, chief technology officer and founder of Ventera.
Now, in addition to Ventera's primary business of installing information technology systems, it analyzes the technology and thus the potential of some of the area's newest technology ventures on behalf of venture capital firms.
Mr. Stygar said the company also interviews the technology team and management. "We will go in and interview from the chief technology officer all the way down to the application programmers and developers to determine if they have the right team in place."
Sometimes, he said, the companies don't "pass" the assessment. Mr. Stygar cited the example of a hosting facility that had a water-based sprinkler system in case of fires. Ventera realized that even during a false alarm, the sprinkler systems could activate, damaging thousands of dollars worth of company equipment. Ventera warned the venture capital firm against investing until the company changed the systems.
"We need to look into all those things," Mr. Stygar said.
The start-up will often ask Ventera to help it correct any problems.
"On some of these, we've been asked to come back, that's why it was sort of a no-brainer to get in this business," he said. "Potentially, the start-ups may need help in providing the fixes."
In that regard, Ventera acts as a consultant as well, Mr. Stygar said.
Douglas Koelemay, vice president of public affairs for the Northern Virginia Technology Council, said there is plenty of money to go around to start-ups, but venture capital firms simply do not have the time to investigate every start-up proposal that crosses their desks. So, a company like Ventera can be invaluable.
"A lot of what is called a shortage of venture capital is a shortage of time to investigate," Mr. Koelemay said.
Mr. Koelemay said Ventera, by expanding its services, is responding to a convergence of technology. He said businesses are continually redefining themselves to serve their customers.

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