Event Recap: AZEC12 – The End Of Business As Usual

With the reality of “business as usual” being gone by the wayside, AZEC12 gathered a talented lineup of speakers to challenge today’s entrepreneurs, investors, and organizational leaders to begin seeing things differently. They brought a new perspective, and good insights into how we can operate, profit, and flourish in today’s technology-driven, fast-paced “social sharing economy”. Here is a quick summary of the presentations (you should have been there!):
Crowdfunding: Yes or No
Speaker: Tom Curzon, Osborn Maledon
Tom shared a legal view in regards to crowdfunding online. He spoke on Kickstarter, their success, and the current SEC guidelines that will continue to shape this new form of capital raising.
Propel Arizona
Speaker: CJ Cornell
Elaborating on the topic of Kickstarter, CJ spoke of its vast array of challenges when attempting to become a successfully funded project. He doesn’t like that. So instead, he has created a community-based platform to raise money online, just for Arizona. It’s called Propel Arizona. CJ said during the presentation, “If local companies do well, Arizona does well.” – that is the mission of his new venture.
The End of Business as Usual
Speaker: Mike Hawksworth, MSS Technologies
Mike spoke on his leap when starting MSS Technologies and the clear and imminent risk he took as an entrepreneur with his own personal funds. MSS Technologies help organizations to 1) create a culture of innovation, 2) achieve industry-leading performance, and 3) let strategy drive decision making.
The Social Enterprise
Speaker: Rawn Shah, IBM
The need for businesses to adapt to the social economy is evident. Rawn highlighted the underlying value in doing so: 1) increase productivity, 2) generating more revenue per employee, and 3) accelerating business transformation.
The Collaborative Organization
Speaker: Jacob Morgan, Chess Media
Best-selling author of the book ‘The Collaborative Organization’, Jacob identified major inefficiencies currently happening in large enterprises, including: duplication of work, inability to find documents, inability to find subject-matter expert, lack of employee engagement in company, and misuse of technology. His consulting firm, Chess Media, helps organizations combat these issues, and become internally efficient and functional.
Speaker: Jan Ziff
Jan also took her new project launch to Kickstarter for some help. She gave us a transparent look into the many challenges that occurred during the campaign, and the time-consuming process it was. However, Heckerty – a children’s learning app was successfully funded. Raising $14,000, they are continuing to roll out new app updates, and getting much praise from media review sources.
Lifecycle Marketing: Transforming Small Businesses From Hunters to Harvesters
Speaker: Scott Martineau, Infusionsoft
We got an inside look into the beginning days of Infusionsoft. Scott shared his story, hurdles, and enlightenments when it came to new ideas for sales and marketing. Here are the seven-points to developing a lifecycle marketing strategy: 1) Attract Interest, 2) Capture Leads, 3) Nurture Prospects, 4) Convert Sales, 5) Deliver Satisfaction, 6) Upsell Customers, and 7) Get Referrals.
Announcement and Awards
Speaker: Paula Satow, Buzzuka
Buzzuka helps you “Market like a pro”, and develop your very own 30-second elevator pitch. Announcing the progress of Buzzuka, their website now has a completely interactive Pitch Launchpad and a Pitch Directory.
What’s the Next New Thing?
Speaker: Robert Scoble, RackSpace
‘The Age of Context’ was the sub-title for Robert’s presentation. He spoke on the changes taking place in the tech industry, and what he sees to come. Some highlights we made were: the inexpensive costs for sensors, new wearable computing (ie. Google Glasses), now matured social networks (ie. Facebook, Twitter), the battle for Map Services (Google vs. Apple Maps), robotics especially emerging in healthcare, and reality of how much our smartphone devices really know about our lives.
Building Companies in Arizona
Speaker: Jeff Pruitt, Tallwave
With an impressive past for other successful startups, and holding advisory counsel positions at Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft, Jeff spoke on what entrepreneurs should be thinking about when running lean. From the top, develop a 3 year vision. Ask yourself, “Where do I have to be in 1 year to accomplish that vision?” Finally, develop a 90 day action plan, and give yourself strategic brain breaks for refreshed thinking, when necessary.
A Very Successful Exit
Speaker: Alex Brigham, Corpedia
Alex just sold his startup Corpedia for well over $100 Million. The buyers assured Brigham that they would keep all employees (minus the two founders), keep it in Arizona, and continue the vision of the firm. In getting there, he shared with us his best piece of advice: Delegate to limit your work…and for all the control freaks out there, don’t worry, issues rise to the top fast enough before becoming serious problems.
Social Media Grows Up
Speaker: Bart Steiner, Bulbstorm
A brilliant social marketer, Bart has built Bulbstorm to be a platform for creating social applications. A key differentiation he made was that advertisers want engagement, not impressions. Finally, are your business posts not be seen by all your fans? This is because of Facebook edgerank. What contributes to this formula is affinity score, weight, and time, and how it relates to the algorithm of your fan base.
Cronkite Entrepreneurship
Speaker: Retha Hill, Arizona State University
Retha shared some great news regarding education in AZ. Arizona State University has finished the build out of a new media innovation lab. Journalists and computer science students collaborate to create new digital media product, and startup companies. Examples: AZ State Trails App, and Cronkite Nation.
Speaker: Courtney Klein
SeedSpot is an incubator for early stage social entrepreneurs. With new partnerships, and local support, SeedSpot has incubated their first round of 16 companies, will be taking them all through a 18-step modular program to building their business, and culminating with a “Demo Day” to local VCs and angels as these new firms launch in 8 months.
Startup Lessons Learned
Speaker: Mark Rukavina, iMemories
Mark himself has personally raised over $100 Million from VCs and Angel Investors. In going through that process, he has learned 10 key points from his experience, that he shared with us: 1) Market Power Rules, 2) Pursue Your Passion, 3) Design Matters, 4) Find Your “Onliness”, 5) Focus, 6) Recognize Your Strengths, 7) Don’t Overbuild, 8) Test. Test. Test., 9) Harness User’s Passion, and 10) Master the Pitch.
After Blackboard, What?
Speaker: Matthew Pittinsky, Parchment
As the Founder of Blackboard, and now the Founder / CEO of Parchment, Matt identified a key points for starting any business: solve a really practical problem. In the case of his new venture, Parchment solves a practical problem of electronically transferring records of personal credentials (school transcripts, certificates, etc). We live in a knowledge economy, where human capital is the most valuable, and our judgement commonly takes place by looking at credentials; we are a credential-based society.
The Importance of Kickass Design
Speaker: Ward Andrews, Design.org
Ward challenged us to use design thinking. The process of improving design also beings with failure. From there, he gave us a list of “Do’s” and Don’ts”: Do – Envision the Future, Do – the Big Thing, Do – Connect Viewpoints and Ideas, Do – Keep A Journal. Don’t – Take Comfort in Your Great Idea, Don’t – Begin with Features, Don’t – Start with Visual Design, Don’t – Let the Perfect Solution Stop You. Do – Control Time and Space.
State of the VC Industry
Speaker: Bill Reichert, Garage Technology Ventures
Bill shared the ‘Top Ten Trends in Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital’. Here they are: 1) Starting a company has never been cheaper, 2) Building a company has never been more expensive, 3) Innovation is global, 4) Venture capital is not evenly distributed, and it’s getting scarcer, 5) Seed is a four letter word, 6) Seed investing has never been stronger, 7) The intersection of cloud, apps, and social and data, 8) Green is dead, 9) Differentiate or die, and finally, 10) People trump technology. A Hint to Entrepreneurs: Make a VC fall in love with the team, the technology, or the vision!
Seeds for Autism
Speaker: MaryAnn La Roche
Seeds for Autism is the partner project for OTEF this year, and is a place to help transitioning autistic young adults. Specializing in ages 18 and above, Seeds for Autism teaches all individuals to be an active producing member of society, and how to produce quality products they can sell for profit.
It was a great event this year, and much appreciation to Francine Hardaway, Gangplank, and all supporting partners! Hope to see you next year for AZEC13.