There was really only one place for Atlanta entrepreneurs and small business owners to be on Wednesday, August 14th: Access to Capital: Money to Mainstreet in the ballrooms of the Hyatt Regency. Jammed with over 300 small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs all striving to acquire funding for their ventures, the atmosphere virtually hummed with ideas and determination.

The event could never have happened without our wonderful sponsors and supporters. Special thanks to sponsors Bank of America and Microsoft, and gratitude to supporters Association for EnterpriseOpportunity (AEO), eVerifile, Frontier Capital, LegalZoom, and Merchant Cash & Capital. We hope you got a chance to meet with them and see how they can benefit your small business or startup.

By 9:30am, when the Traditional Lending panel began, nearly every seat was occupied within the Town Hall area. Attendees sat poised with pads of paper, ready to pen down – at breakneck speed – tips from bank executives. Just one ballroom over, in Town Square, others started conversations and began relationships in one-on-one meetings with lenders that could land them funding down the road; or they vetted their startups through the wringer that is the lending industry, learning first-hand what they might need in order to be considered a good investment for a lender. And the thing is, the pace never slowed down. Even the crowdfunding panel, the final panel of the day (let’s face it – the final presentation at any event is often lacking in attendance), drew a significant number of interested attendees, with over 3/4 of the room filled. Georgia has unique laws when it comes to crowdfunding, namely that debt- or equity-based crowdfunding is legal.

Panel Recap:

Traditional Panel: Lead by veteran television reporter and anchor Melissa Long with panelists Rob Farinella, founder and president of Blue Sky Agency; David Brindley, SVP Small Business of VantageSouth Bank; Shamonda Gilbert, VP Small Business Banker for Bank of America; Terri Denison, District Director for the SBA; and Tripper Mansfield, SVP of Georgia Commerce Bank, this panel delved into the murky world of bank loans, uncovering the criteria banks use when deciding whether to lend to a business or not.

Strategies from Entrepreneurs: Moderated by Daryn Kagan, creator and host of, with panelists Sigmund Mosley, managing partner at Mosley Ventures; Daryl Dollinger, president and co-founder of Big Game Brands (previously Raving Brands); Andrew Lindner, founding parter at Frontier Capital; Michael Tavani, co-founder of  Scoutmob; Lance Weatherby, COO nCrowd Inc.; Mark A. Wilson, president and CEO of eVerifile Inc., the panel shared insights and tips that these entrepreneurs picked up on their way to creating successful businesses.

Alternative Funding: Author Phil Town directed panelists Tammy Halevy, SVP of New Initiatives for AEO; Robert Gloer, President and COO of IOU Central; Gavron Campbell, CEO and founder of Bigwood Wood Boards; Stephen Sheinbaum, president and CEO of Merchant Cash and Capital; and Shannon Smith, founder of ShaMari Hair Salon in providing insights on where business owners and entrepreneurs can find different sources of funding than bank loans.

Crowdfunding: True to the topic, the crowdfunding panel wasn’t moderated by a single person; rather, with a little direction from Knox Massey, Asset Manager for Keith-Massey Family Investments, panelists Jeff Bekiares, COO and co-founder of SparkMarket; Mark Feinberg, CEO and co-founder of URUUT; and Adam Lee, co-founder of Bohemian Guitars spoke amongst themselves about the still uncertain landscape of crowdfunding, dismissing hearsay and informing attendees that in Georgia, unlike many other states, debt equity is a legal form of crowdfunding.

If you missed the event, we’ll be posting videos of each panel in entirety online soon. Subscribe (sidebar, near the top) to get alerts when new posts are published.

Want to attend the next event?

Our next stop is Seattle on November 12th. If you’re in that area:

  • Mark your calendars (or the virtual equivalent), grab a ticket, and we’ll see you there!

Not in Washington state?