If watching software executives sweat is your idea of a good time, the Massachusetts Software Council (MSC) has a conference for you.The industry group\u2019s annual Investment Conference for Private Companies (held this year on March 29 in Boston) focuses the microscope on small software companies eager for funding from an attentive audience of venture capitalists. The action starts fast. Each software exec gets a mere 30 seconds at the center-stage microphone to convince the investors to attend 10-minute presentations later in the morning. The execs hope to generate enough interest for further meetings\u2014and maybe even a check. It\u2019s a pressure-cooker environment that quickly separates entrepreneurs with a focused vision\u2014and no fear of public speaking\u2014from those that need a few more months polishing their elevator pitch.This year, 22 companies, ranging from the vendor of a business intelligence application aimed at senior executives (Optimum Outcomes) to a startup trying to revolutionize Internet radio (Ressen Design), vied for the attention of some 75 investors. Vendor execs ranged from hired-gun CEOs showing off their latest startup to technologists hoping to take their life\u2019s work to the masses.Venture capitalists say the format provides an exceptionally quick overview of where software innovation may be headed in the near future. "Ten minutes is all you need to get a feel for the entrepreneur and the opportunity to determine whether it makes sense to dig deeper," said attendee Austin Scee, a senior associate at Advanced Technology Ventures.For IT people, attending such an event enables a quick look at technologies that could prove valuable to their companies, either for IT or investment purposes. The MSC says that anyone willing to pony up the $350 registration fee is welcome. Similar events are sponsored by numerous venture capital firms as well as by the Southern California Software Council and FundingPost, which organizes more than a dozen events across the United States each year.