Sample Conference Sessions

Creating Opportunity in Uncertain Times

Katheen-AllenKathleen Allen – Professor of Entrepreneurship, USC

The days of writing in-depth business plans before executing a new venture are over.  An uncertain economic environment, global competition, and chaotic markets require that entrepreneurs engage in sense-and-respond experiments to recognize opportunity, develop business models, and design sustainable businesses. Dr. Allen will present a micro-experimental approach to assessing the feasibility of new ventures and rapidly achieving proof of concept.

Dr. Kathleen Allen is the author of more than 15 books in the field of entrepreneurship and technology commercialization.  She is a professor of entrepreneurship and the Director of the USC-Marshall Center for Technology Commercialization. Allen has started and operated four companies, including two technology ventures, and is a director of a NYSE company.

There's an Easy Way and a Hard Way:  The 5 Concepts an Entrepreneur Must Understand

tomTom Tsao – Hi Tech Entrepreneur

Abstract: The path a start-up takes is stochastic, not deterministic. The key is to make choices that have high probabilities of success. Despite having an extensive history available to them, many first time entrepreneurs make the same crippling mistakes made by their predecessors.  Using actual examples, this presentation will give the rationale behind the best advice that is often ignored.

Dr. Tom Tsao is an experienced high tech entrepreneur who has raised capital from both venture capitalists and the government.  He has aided over a dozen high tech start-ups evolve from concept through funding and product development.  He guest lectures at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and teaches a seminar on raising VC capital at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.  He received his PhD in electrical engineering from Caltech.

How to Establish a Start-up with SBIR Funding

fredFred Mohamadi – CEO, Tialinx

Establishing a start-up that can benefit from SBIR funding as an alternative to raising seed from venture capital will be elaborated with focus on how to use effectively the entity’s intellectual properties.  Challenges in continuation of funding, dealing with the contracting offices, meeting the funding agency requirements and expectations, maintaining the pipeline of IPs while focusing on generating revenue through productization will be addressed.

Dr. Fred Mohamadi is the CEO of TiaLinx, Inc. He has held senior and executive management positions at National Semiconductor, Lucent technologies, Broadcom Corporation, and start-up companies involved with the development of radar and communication component and products for thirty years. He received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. He also holds an MBA from Santa Clara University. He founded TiaLinx, Inc. envisioning convergence of smart antenna beamforming technology and wafer scale integration for ultra wide bandwidth (UWB) wireless applications.

Developing the perfect investor pitch

JohnJohn Sweet – Senior Licensing Associate, USC Stevens Institute

Tips will be given on how to construct presentations that succinctly answer investors' most important questions and maximize the chance that you'll get funded.  If your hope is to attract venture capital or other sources of funding from investors who you don't personally know, then you will certainly need a salient presentation that portrays who you are and why you are deserving of investment.

Mr. John Sweet is a Senior Technology Advancement and Licensing Associate for the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation at USC.  He is also an active member of the Pasadena Angels, a network of early-stage angel investors in Southern California.  He was a software engineer and entrepreneur in Silicon Valley and launched two companies.  He earned his BS degree in Integrative Biology from the University of California at Berkeley, and received his MBA with Honors specializing in investment finance at USC.

How venture capitalists evaluate and how venture firms operate

ShahinShahin Farshchi – Senior Associate, Lux Capital

Significant improvements in computerized design & simulation, as well as accessibility to high-throughput test and characterization tools have accelerated the development and demonstration of cutting edge technology.  However, funding a startup to bring the technology to the mainstream has turned into a longer, more expensive process than ever before – especially in areas relating to semiconductors and energy.  An introduction to how venture capitalists evaluate new investment opportunities with respect to how venture firms operate will be provided, in addition to several case studies.

Dr. Farshchi is a senior associate with Lux Capital, focusing on investments in semiconductor, wireless, and alternative energy technologies. He has held technical positions at General Motors and several Silicon Valley technology startups. He has also served as a postdoctoral scholar at the UCLA department of Electrical Engineering where he received his PhD. His research on wireless biosignal telemetry has been widely published. He has sourced Lux’s investments in Silicon Clocks (NASDAQ:SLAB) and SiBeam, in addition to assisting with Everspin and Luxtera, while supporting Lux’s energy and semiconductor portfolio.

Challenges and Best Practices for Fundraising

Saeed Amidi - CEO/President and Founder – Plug and Play Tech Center
The process of incubating startup companies, related resources needed and
opportunities provided will be discussed.
Tech Center, a premier technology startup accelerator with
over 300 companies which collectively have raised an excess
of $700 million. He is a serial entrepreneur and a seasoned
executive with over 28 years of experience in founding,
operating, and growing successful companies. He is also a
general partner in Amidzad which holds successful
investments in companies such as PayPal, DropBox, etc.
amidiSaeed Amidi - CEO/President & Founder, Plug and Play Tech Center

The presentation covers the basics of setting the right strategy, choosing the right Venture Capitalists, and the right partner at the firm to champion the projects, as well as getting the right introduction to a VC, having the right pitch and addressing the right points which substantially increase fundraising chances. Several case studies will be presented on reasons for success or failure, based on presenter's experience in raising more than $100M.

Mr. Amidi is the Founder, President and CEO of Plug and PlayTech Center, a premier technology startup accelerator withover 300 companies which collectively have raised an excessof $700 million. He is a serial entrepreneur and a seasonedexecutive with over 28 years of experience in founding,operating, and growing successful companies. He is also ageneral partner in Amidzad which holds successfulinvestments in companies such as PayPal, DropBox, etc.

Stock Market Reflection of Entrepreneurialism

 Scott O'Neil – President, MarketSmith 

Entrepreneurialism is the key driver of the stockmarket. The stock market is a true reflection of the success or failure of new innovations and follow-on technologies. It is the vehicle for many entrepreneurs to achieve significant societal impact. We will look at a sampling of key innovations over the last 110 years from stock market perspective. 

Scott O’Neil received a degree in Business Management from Loyola MarymountUniversity and later graduated from Harvard Business School’s Program for Management Development.  He has over 25 years experience in the financial industry.  Mr. O’Neil joined Investor’s Business Daily in 1986 and was promoted to Publisher in 1994.  In 2000, he became a PortfolioManager and now also acts as President of MarketSmith, an investment research tool.

Entrepreneurial Business Organizations: Structure Mirrors Function

danaDana Sherman – Engineering, Business and Law Professor, USC

Professor Sherman will simplify much of the confusion regarding the legal aspects of starting a new business by providing a framework that explains how to focus on just four key considerations.

Professor Dana Sherman has been a USC faculty member for over 30 years and has taught in the Viterbi School of Engineering, the Marshall School of Business, and the USC Law Center.  He is an active member of the California State Bar and has advised many businesses from small companies to Fortune 500 corporations.  Among his five degrees are a MS in public administration from Harvard and a MS in Business Taxation from USC.

khoshnevis Basics of Inventive Thinking

 Behrokh Khoshnevis – Engineering Professor, USC 

Great products, processes and systems are typically resulted from inventive thinking which unfortunately is not effectively nurtured by academic education as has been practiced. Creativity is induced by a particular state of mind and a matching life style. Some guidelines about the essentials will be given in this presentation.

Dr. Khoshnevis is a Professor of Industrial & Systems Engineering, Aerospace  & Mechanical Engineering, and Civil and Environmental Engineering at USC. He has extensive experience in invention and commercialization of products and processes and has numerous innovations in diverse fields ranging from medical devices to oil and gas and construction fields. His inventions, especially in robotics construction, have received worldwide coverage in acclaimed media.

Intellectual Property Fundamentals and Patent Portfolio Management

CliffClifford Cousins – Patent Portfolio Manager, Boeing

The fundamentals of intellectual property (IP) are introduced and an overview of the different types of IP including: Copyrights, Trademarks, Trade Secrets, and Patents is presented.  After this introduction, a more in-depth presentation will cover the patenting process from disclosure to patent grant, and building and managing a patent portfolio.

Mr. Cliff Cousins is a Registered Patent Agent, and is admitted to practice before the US Patent and Trademark Office in patent cases.  Cliff currently works as a Patent Portfolio Manager for The Boeing Company.  Before his legal career, Cliff was a chip designer working for TRW and then two Dot-Com electronics companies PairGain Technologies, and GlobeSpan.  Cliff holds an MSEE from the Viterbi School of Engineering and a Graduate Certificate in Technology Commercialization from the Marshall School of Business, both at USC.

When Is It Legal to Copy Technology?

Marc E. Brown - Partner in McDermott Will & Emery Law Firm & Adjunct Professor at Loyola Law School

Mr. Brown will succinctly teach the basic rule s for determining when it is legal to copy technology in the United States which every technical entrepreneur should know . Consideration will be given to patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and trademarks.

Marc E. Brown is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and head of its patent procurement in the firm's los angeles office. Mr. Brown focuses on computer hardware, software, the internet, electronics and biomedical devices. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Loyola Law School. His writings on intellectual property law are widely published; he has presented dozen of seminars on intellectual property law; and he is often contacted by the press for comment on new leagl developments. 

Royalty Audits of Technology License Agreements

KeithKeith Johanns – Managing Director, Quids, Ltd.

An audit of a license agreement is an important part of the technology commercialization process.  The audit provides a licensor with an independent assessment on the correct amount of royalties to be paid by a licensee under the terms of the agreement.  This presentation will review key terms in a license agreement, and the steps involved during a royalty audit.

Mr. Keith Johanns is the Founder and Managing Director of Quids Ltd, a license management and royalty audit company incorporated during 2005.  Mr. Johanns is also the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Avant-Garde Patents Ltd, a commercialization company incorporated during 2010 for patent applications filed by international inventors at the United States Patent & Trademark Office.

The art of patent searching - Patentability, Validity and Infringement

parhamParham Fatehi – Patent Analyst

Patent searching is a powerful business and engineering development process and is critical to patent strategy.  Through patent searching one can determine whether an invention is novel and warrants further development investment. This presentation will focus on Patent Law and Examination as context for patent searching, types of patent searches, the mechanics of searching, patent analysis, and search tools.

Mr. Fatehi is a former Electrical Engineering Patent Examiner with the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).  He is currently a Patent Analyst at Landon IP, a global patent support firm, where he provides written opinion to the USPTO regarding international patent applications published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and performs commercial searches for leading technology firms.

Product Design and Realization Considerations for the Entrepreneur


Everette Philiips – President, Global Manufacturing Network 

In an era when it seems most new business models are oriented towards software or service, it can be challenging for an entrepreneur to realize a new physical product.  Mr. Phillips will discuss current trends and issues related to designing and manufacturing of products in our global economy. What considerations should an entrepreneur consider when designing and planning the realization of thedesign and review trends for international production of high technology products.

Mr. Everette Phillips is President of Global Manufacturing Network (GMN). GMN is a contract manufacturing firm and international sourcing organization with production and resources in the US and Asia. Mr. Phillips has nearly 20 years of experience in robotics, machine vision and advanced manufacturing technologies in diverse industries. He is on the board of Entrepreneurship@Cornell. He received his BS in Bioengineering from Cornell. He also has an MBA from theUCLA Anderson School is participates in programs that involve both USC and Anderson alumni in Southern California.