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My View: Entrepreneurship Conference offered many gems

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Date: Sunday, November 18, 2007, 10:00pm MST - Last Modified: Wednesday, November 14, 2007, 4:00pm MST

Those who missed last week's Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference should be kicking themselves right now. The event drew 250 of the Valley's most interesting entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts for a day filled with workshops, networking and inspiration.

The conference was organized in large part by local business leaders Francine Hardaway, Joan Koerber-Walker and Steven Groves. Proceeds go directly to the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation, a Valley-based organization that provides training and support to help at-risk youth and adults improve their lives by creating and growing entrepreneurial ventures.

Pat Sullivan of ACT and SalesLogix; Marc Canter, co-founder of Macromedia; and Dan Morrison, CEO of ITtoolbox Inc., presented keynotes that provided practical knowledge for entrepreneurs to help them prepare their companies for acquisition.

Morrison's company recently was acquired for $59 million, but he noted that selling a company doesn't happen overnight.

"A lot of companies think they are going to get a call from an interested buyer, and then the next week the deal will be done. It doesn't happen that way," he said.

A conference gem was the "Women as Entrepreneurs" session, which touched on how women build companies while simultaneously keeping their families high on their priority lists.

Shay Pausa, founder of Chikii, which creates television content for women, believes anyone can have a family life while running a company. Involving her family in the process of building Chikii was the key to keeping her family close while maintaining focus on the business, she said.

Other sessions addressed funding, innovation, green business and exit strategies. "E-Myth" author Michael Gerber and Ingrid Vanderveldt, host of CNBC's "American Made" and CEO of the Club E Network, also were on hand to share their entrepreneurial stories.

Vanderveldt learned some very important lessons about leveraging her network of contacts to get things done.

"Every entrepreneur wants to move their business forward," she said. "To do that, you most likely will need the help of others who can hook you up with the right people or the right deal."

Gerber talked about the entrepreneur's role in society.

"The new entrepreneur will transform the economic reality of the world," he said, adding one key lesson: "The most important thing about a business is its meaning. If the meaning behind your business is, 'We're all going to get rich,' it's a dumb idea."

Corey Kossack is president of Club E Tempe. He can be reached through Club E's Web site, www.clubenetwork.com.

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