May 17, 2004

Los Angeles — Morning keynote speaker Marc Benioff set an appropriately inspiring tone for the rest of the day during his kickoff speech at the Entrepreneur Association’s 2004 Entrepreneurs Conference held on the UCLA Anderson campus Friday, April 30th. The entrepreneur and software industry veteran best known for founding gave a 40 minute talk to a Korn Hall audience of local entrepreneurs and UCLA Anderson MBA/FEMBA students, alumni, and faculty. Benioff’s speech offered vital lessons about people skills and the mechanics of business learned from being a teenage entrepreneur, working 13 years at Oracle in various leadership roles within sales, marketing, and product development, and then forming his own web-based software utility company. However, Benioff stressed social responsibility as the most important element to success. He touched upon his own extensive philanthropic work, outlined in greater detail in his book Compassionate Capitalism, which was distributed to early arriving registered participants of the conference.

The conference was divided into three main sessions, during which time participants chose from a wide variety of topics and workshops - ranging from sales and presentation techniques to biotech and retail management and interact with industry experts.

In a lively discussion moderated by second year student and resident wi-fi expert, Scott Miller called, “It’s Getting Hot In Here: The Business of Wireless Hot Spots,” executives and entrepreneurs from companies such as Boingo Wireless, Pronto Networks, Tropos Networks, and Café.com offered their thoughts on the opportunities created by the emerging wireless infrastructure.

“Digital Convergence & the Impact of Technology on Entertainment,” moderated by Professor George Geis, focused on wireless content and the effect of changing technology on the music, television, and film industries. Executives, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists from JAMDAT Mobile, THQ Wireless, Digital Cinema Initiatives, Yahoo! Music, and Shelter Capital offered their provocative thoughts on the changing media landscape and its implications on the global market.

A discussion on burgeoning opportunities in wireless content continued with UCLA Anderson alum and JAMDAT Mobile co-founder Austin Murray and THQ Wireless President Tim Walsh sharing their thoughts. Walsh noted that the conference, “is a great way to get people connected. This is how people come up with new ideas and build alliances that turn into great companies later on.” Murray commented, “The EA continues to stay on top of the cutting edge in new business developments, as shown by the valuable commentary during today’s panel. I was very happy to be a part of this exciting event.”

Arguably the hottest and most misunderstood technology today – nanotechnology was the topic of the session, “Think Small, Do Big: The Rise of Nanotechnology.” The session included an intellectually formidable group of scientists, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists, moderated by California Technology Ventures Managing Director and UCLA School of Medicine professor Gary Lazar. The group attempted to provide a clear answer to the daunting question, “What is nanotech?” The group offered advice about how interested MBA students and entrepreneurs could get involved. Many stressed that they avoided investing in opportunities that were, “nanotech for the sake of nanotech,” but instead offered clear and compelling solutions to current needs.

The conference closed with remarks by Linda LoRe, President and CEO of Frederick’s of Hollywood. Employing her past experience with the luxury brands at Giorgio Beverly Hills, LoRe oversaw Frederick’s Chapter 11 reorganization and subsequent recovery and growth. Her presentation told a compelling story of how she developed a strong brand from a dying company. Her change strategy worked because LoRe built upon the core values and strengths of the company, instead of doing something completely different and unrealistic. The speech impressed first year Vidya Sundaram who made the insight that, “I think (LoRe) could do that because she values the company’s traditions, and I could see how she was able to build the support and confidence of her staff because of it.”

According to second year student Emmy Huang, this year’s conference broke attendance records for the EA with over 377 attendees including panelists and speakers. This year’s conference also represented the first time that sponsorship came entirely from external sources. These included Focal Point Partners, Shepard Mullin, Rustic Canyon Partners, Palomar Ventures, Holthouse, Carlin & Van Trigt, Wells Fargo Foothill, and UCLA CIBER.

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