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Irvine Entrepreneur Forum returns next week

The third annual event features presentations, discussions and networking opportunities

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: February 23, 2012 10:15 AM

Next week, entrepreneurs, investors and local business owners will gather for the third annual Irvine Entrepreneur Forum (IEF), an opportunity for enterprising business men and women to present their ideas and possibly win venture funding. The event takes place on March 1 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Irvine, and this year’s forum will feature a keynote from Drew Clark, co-founder and director of strategy at IBM Venture Capital Group.

As in previous years, the forum will feature a “Shark Tank”-style format, with six startup companies pitching their ideas to a panel of angel investors and venture capitalists. The daylong event will also include a Tech Expo, networking opportunities, and topical sessions on a number of subjects, including business planning, finance, innovative marketing and others intended to inform and advise startup businesses. More than 300 attendees are expected at this year’s event, which aims to lower the bar for entry for entrepreneurial startups.

"The Irvine Entrepreneur Forum is designed for entrepreneurs to roll up their sleeves to learn about startup business strategies and tactics that will deliver results to emerge businesses, find funding or an investment," said Christopher Lynch, vice president of business and economic development for the Irvine Chamber of Commerce.  "It is about current companies and service groups coming together to support entrepreneurs with mentoring and services to help them launch their companies."

The six presenting startups were selected from a field of 52 business plans submitted for the Shark Tank competition. Visitors to the Irvine Entrepreneur Forum website were invited to vote on video presentations for their favorite companies, with the top company in each category invited to present to the panel at the event. The top two companies selected by the board of venture and angel investors will receive $10,000 in cash to fund their growth.

This year’s keynote speaker, Drew Clark, has a range of experience in the field entrepreneurial startups. Clark has founded and led a number of internal startup efforts during his career. Known as IBM’s “Search Czar”, Clark played a key role in the formation of IBM’s Internet Division, and later led its search, knowledge-management, social media and Web 2.0


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