What to expect at expos: AutoTech Investments, a who’s who forum for investors, tech founders, dealers and OEMs

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After years of attending industry events, April Rain identified that most events did not adequately support new entrepreneurs or allow them to effectively engage with investors. She researched the marketplace and solicited ideas from industry experts like Steve Greenfield, founder of Automotive Ventures.

Rain found that the current pace of innovation and evolution in automotive requires the four major constituents — dealers, OEMs, technology suppliers and investors — to work together. Current industry events were not offering the right combination of roundtable, networking and strategic dialog to facilitate the needed engagement.

So, she made one. Rain, industry veteran and entrepreneur, created AutoTech Investments (ATI) to provide a value-based event series to explore the latest tech trends, forge strategic partnerships, and uncover new investment opportunities. Her vast network, industry experience and marketing chutzpah paid off with a successful, standing-room-only first event at NADA Show 2024.

The second event will take place June 10 at the Ritz Carlton in Marina del Rey, Calif., the day before another high-value event, CXAUTO, kicks off. The venue is luxurious, with plenty of beachfront options to keep the family entertained if attendees want to double the trip as a family vacation.

In collaboration with Greenfield and supported by companies like TradePending, TD Securities, Informativ, FM Capital, HopDrive, TruVideo, RevDojo, Rejoule, Bizzycar and others, ATI is laser-focused on connecting automotive technology companies with the investors and resources they need to drive innovation and growth as well as the customers of that technology — dealers and OEMs.

It’s designed as an educational networking event with afternoon sessions, a VIP dinner, and a reception. It is ideally situated for West Coast dealers and OEMs who do not have the time to travel to two-to-three-day events.

To attend, you need to request an invite. It’s not one of those events that you can just pay your way into. Tickets are complimentary to dealers and OEMs. ATI organizers expect to reach capacity early — over 350 registered for the 150 seats at the NADA event.

Michelle Denogean, former CMO for Roadster and current CMO for Mindtrip, said, “ATI is a confluence of progressive dealers, innovators and investors. It’s the bridge that brings these people together for discussions, networking and learning.”

At this year’s event, Denogean will lead a presentation about growth based on her personal experience leading the marketing for technology start-ups in two industries. She will present material from her new book entitled Grow Up, which seeks to advise start-up founders on the skills needed in every phase of growth and development of a new business.

Likewise, Charlie Vogelheim, host pilot of The Flying Car and principal of Vogelheim Ventures, attended the first event and is scheduled to moderate several sessions at the June event.

About the NADA event, Vogelheim said, “ATI is on the cutting edge in how dealers operate. The technology is disruptive and may even challenge the norms of today’s dealership operations. Dealers need to be at the forefront of these changes in order to benefit the businesses, employees, customers and communities they serve.”

The event features Shark Tank pitch sessions, meticulously curated audiences, and insightful panels aimed toward investment and integration opportunities. The Shark Tank, sponsored by DetectAuto and Gather, allows early-stage automotive technology companies to present their innovative solutions to a panel of esteemed judges from investment firms and dealership groups. The judges will provide valuable feedback and insights, potentially unlocking new investment and partnership opportunities for the participating startups and dealers.

Chase Fraser, managing partner at FM Capital, will moderate a fireside chat titled, “Disruptors in Technology.” He noted that “the Shark Tank pitch session allows start-up founders to test their messaging in front of VC judges and the broader industry.

“This exposure is great for their presentation skills and their ability to condense their company’s value proposition,” Fraser said.

From an entrepreneur’s perspective, the event offers invaluable education. Tech founders have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with investors of all stripes — venture capitalists, private equity, angel funds – and learn what types of investors they need to move their business forward.

Guided by industry luminaries such as Steve Greenfield and Glenn Mercer, the presentations and panels will delve into the latest mergers and acquisition trends, as well as cutting-edge industry analyses.

According to Greenfield, “this event is different because the content is highly curated and moderated. It’s important to ensure that the information is relevant to everyone in the room, and that it is timely. Not a sales pitch.”

Nick Mottas, co-founder and CEO of HopDrive, is an advocate for ATI.  With six years under his belt at HopDrive, Mottas said that “ATI helped us find our voice and transition from being a start-up to a business with leaders who are experts both in automotive transportation and also  the business of business.”

Greenfield advises that dealers who want to see the latest technology and industry trends need to be in the room.  He added, “likewise, established businesses interested in growing their tech stack and solutions for dealers and OEMs benefit from the contacts and conversations.”

Register now for the ATI event on June 10th by visiting www.autotechinvestments.com.  The timeframe is 1 to 8 p.m., making it easy to get to whether you are flying in or navigating LA traffic.

Attendees at ATI receive a 50% discount to the immediately following CXAUTO event at the same venue.

For those interested in attending or learning more about ATI, visit the event’s website (www.autotechinvestments.com) or follow them on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/auto-tech-investments/about/.

Jennifer Sanford is an experienced SaaS marketing leader passionate about the retail automotive experience. Jennifer is the founder of Sanford Marketing Group, an agency specializing in B2B marketing strategy and project management. Jennifer loves a well-designed conference. She helps her clients maximize their brand presence and ROI at every event they attend.