Last week, I attended an informal gathering of venture capitalists, start-up chiefs and assorted press. Over crackers and a few cocktails, we talked about where the industry is headed.Needless to say, the VCs I spoke with were cautiously optimistic. Though they had clearly been burned by the dot-com era, they were trying to assimilate what they learned and move forward. The biggest lesson was don't put all your eggs in one basket.During the boom era, VCs were laying claim to certain areas of investment such as mobility, CRM, or other such hyped words. They would fund several start-ups in that area, hoping to create the ultimate incubator. However, they learned quickly that when the industry around that topic tanked, their investments went with it.Now, you hear of VCs spreading their money around - funding a few edgy companies and a few no-brainers. The biggest thing you see with the VCs is how involved they are now. Before, they were funding too many companies to keep track of, instead relying on a few wet-behind-the-ears inventors to lead the business plan. No more. Instead, they seem to be hands-on the whole way through the process. They also seem to be able to speak fluently on the companies they are backing, showing equal enthusiasm and knowledge for each. Good to see.As for the entrepreneurs, they are back in the basement, toiling away at their inventions. No more plush offices just for having an idea. Instead, they are having to earn their way in the door. And it seems to have made them more focused. They are talking products and features rather than stock options, benefits and Porsches. They have that passionate gleam in their eyes that only an era of humility can bring. They also seem to be working on real offerings rather than spouting off about never-to-be-seen vaporware.All in all, the feeling was positive... cautious but positive. It gave me definite hope that the right people are in the driver's seat to usher in this new era of innovation.