This sponsored post is produced in association with Nvidia.

In startup land, financing is getting harder. Valuation inflation is dissipating, and investors are demanding profitability, and fast. The pool of resources required to build a successful tech company is also larger than ever as the technology industry matures and the demand for vertical integration booms.

“Even if you have great technology and people, even if you’re in a big market space, sometimes you still don’t make it,” says Jeff Herbst, vice president of business development at Nvidia. “Getting your voice heard, getting funded, getting the attention of and partnering with companies like Nvidia is not always easy.”

Nvidia decided to tackle that challenge in their arena by adding the Emerging Companies Summit, which features the Early Stage Challenge, to their annual GPU Technology Conference.

For new startups, conferences are an essential investment, offering opportunities to network, gain insight from peers, critique from leaders in the space, and build the vital connections a company requires to grow.

But a more focused conference, Herbst argues, has an even stronger value proposition. “Our GPU Technology Conferences and Emerging Companies Summit are amazing because all the folks who come, they share a very deep, common technology interest,” he says. “They’re using a GPU-based platform, or they desire to use a GPU platform, in some shape or form.”

It’s a scenario that seems to offer unmatched visibility for GPU-based companies in front of investors, customers, and partners — a platform to deliver their message directly to the people who matter the most. For the 12 companies chosen to present in the Early Stage Challenge, it’s a chance to leverage the notoriety of Nvidia, even if they don’t win the $100,000 prize.

The conference is also an opportunity to spotlight companies dominating the fast-surging trends in the industry. This year they’re focusing on China’s startup explosion with the China in Focus event, and the major growth in the virtual reality ecosystem with the VR Showcase, which allows new companies like BioflightVR to reach a broad compliment of technologists, artists, technicians, and dreamers in the VR space.

BioflightVR will demonstrate its virtual reality platform, designed to revolutionize medical diagnostics, training, and education to the people who matter the most. “GTC and ECS are critical to support and grow the VR community,” says Bioflight CCO Rik Shorten. “At an event like this, we get all the stakeholders in one place for a week to discuss where we want to take this industry together.”

Co-founder of EASE VR, Fred Spencer, agrees. “We’re extremely excited to share what we have been working on to such a large, focused audience,” he says. “In many ways, this is our public launch. Our ideal is to expose as many people as possible to our vision and revolutionary analytics experience engine technologies.”

The scope and opportunity of the conference brings back previous attendees, too. “As runner up of last year’s Early Stage Challenge, we wanted to come back and showcase all the progress we have made over this past year,” says Faris Alqadah, co-founder and CEO of QM Scientific, which leverages deep learning and computer vision for their predictive shopping brainchild. “ECS is a great opportunity for getting publicity for our venture, honing in on leads for strategic partnerships, and meeting great entrepreneurs.”

With their GPU technologies, Nvidia is providing a platform for companies to innovate on top of. It’s not just a chip, but a complete platform that involves tools, technology, and APIs, as well as developer and marketing support.

“We’re actually taking a lot of business and technology risk out of the equation for them,” Herbst says, “and letting them just innovate and go serve the markets or the opportunities that are most interesting to them.”

This has resulted in some extraordinary, creative projects that are pushing the boundaries of the technology.

During the Emerging Companies Summit and the VR Showcase, startups will have the opportunity to pitch their work in front of a live audience of VCs, technology executives, and press, and take home major cash prizes.

Showcases like these, where young companies have the opportunity to lay out their business plans and their ambition have given Herbst a unique view into how startup companies need to evolve.

“One thing I have observed about business plans and projections is the first couple of iterations almost never get it quite right,” he says. “And many companies often end up in a very different place from where they started. Be willing to pivot. Listen, learn, and be responsive.”

The Emerging Companies Summit, part of the annual GPU Technology Conference, takes place Wednesday, April 6, 2016, at the San Jose Convention Center, in Silicon Valley.

Sponsored posts are content that has been produced by a company that is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with VentureBeat, and they’re always clearly marked. The content of news stories produced by our editorial team is never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way. For more information, contact