April 03, 2009

By Roey Gilberg

UCLA Anderson hosted its second annual Entrepreneurship Week last month, organized through the Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, to bring together high-profile entrepreneurs from different fields for "a cross-campus pollination of ideas, discussion and collaboration." The event's daily agendas included a variety of speakers from different fields, as well as collaborative ventures with other UCLA graduate programs, including the UCLA School of Engineering. Among the week's highlights were a Fast Pitch Competition with the Tech Coast Angels and lunch discussions with former Media 8 Entertainment President/COO Richard Kiratsoulis (who spoke about financing, distribution, strategic planning and business affairs), and American Business Gateway Director Lily Steiner (who described the pros and cons of family/friend loans versus VC funding).

The keynote speech was given by Kelly Perdew ('95), CEO of Rotohog and the second season winner of NBC's hit show "The Apprentice." Perdew discussed some of the principles detailed in his book, "Take Command: 10 Leadership Principles I Learned in the Military and Put to Work for Donald Trump." In particular, he focused on impeccability, planning, and passion, and stressed the importance of networking at all times. Having been involved with the development of seven start-ups himself, he emphasized the importance of entrepreneurial activity, especially during difficult economic times. "The lifeblood of this country is the entrepreneurs," he said. "They will help the U.S.A. survive and thrive."

Later in the week, topics focused on the entertainment industry, and included an evening discussion with Mike Medavoy, a long-time film producer and current chairman of Phoenix Pictures. Since beginning his career at Universal Studios in 1964, he has been involved in over 300 movies, 16 of which have been nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, and seven of which have won. During the discussion and subsequent question and answer session, Medavoy covered a wide variety of topics, from decision-making to politics to the current economic climate and its consequences for film. He also advised the audience to be aware of their individual strengths and weakness. "Know what you're good at and what you're not," he urged.

The Woo Conference
The event culminated with the third annual Wilbur K. Woo Greater China Business Conference. This year's conference was titled "China: Redefined on the World's Stage." Highlighting the morning session was a keynote address by James Zukin, Chairman of Asia and Senior Managing Director at Houlihan Lokey. Zukin shared his expertise regarding doing business in China and with Chinese companies. He told a capacity Korn Hall crowd to "create a relationship based on mutual trust."

"Get to know your partners," Zukin emphasized. "Things don't always get done when you're moving too fast." Zukin also noted that though "China is ready" to do business with U.S. companies, only about 15-20% of deals with Chinese companies actually close.

The closing keynote address was delivered by Cheng Si-Wei ('83), former Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China. In his address, Cheng discussed the present global economic downturn as it relates to China, and the efforts of the Chinese government to stimulate the country's economy. 

While acknowledging the current downward economic trends, he also expressed optimism for the prospects and implications of economic recovery. "In Chinese ... crisis means threat plus opportunity," he said. "So we need to look for the opportunities." Such opportunities for China, he said, include improvements in industrial structure, energy saving, and environmental protection, as well as improved economic relations with other countries.

"During the financial crisis, we are in the same boat," he said.  "We need to unite together in dealing with [it]."

Since its inception last year, one of the underlying goals of Entrepreneurship Week has been to provide networking opportunities to attendees. Josh Covey ('10), one of twelve Anderson student organizers, emphasized the various networking options organizers sought to provide, including collaboration with UCLA graduate programs besides Anderson. "It's not just an Anderson thing," he said. "It's a UCLA-wide thing. It's a chance to make connections with people from other schools and gain access to other industries."

In addition to this year's collaboration with UCLA's Theater, and Education programs, Covey, who will be involved with organizing next year, hopes to increase participation with other UCLA schools, such as Medicine and Law.  "We'd like to establish good relationships with other schools that are enduring and transferable to the next generation," he said.

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