Exclusive: Entrepreneurs vow to create 1,000 jobs in two days

By the time he was 30, Dan Bliss had started 10 businesses, employing hundreds of people. Now he wants to help other entrepreneurs create jobs.

Bliss is the founder of the Perfect Business Summit, a two-day event held in Las Vegas October 7-8, that brings together top CEOs, entrepreneurs and investors with more than $10 billion in capital. For the second anniversary of the conference Bliss got the participants to commit to creating 1,000 new jobs by spring 2011.

“This is like a two-day economic stimulus,” said Bliss, now 40, who made his fortune running restaurants and concert venues in his native Cleveland, before relocating to Los Angeles nearly a decade ago. “Our event isn’t one of those rah-rah conferences where it’s just a bunch of motivational speakers. We bring real CEOs, real business founders to these events that have done it.”

Virgin Inc. founder Sir Richard Branson was the keynote speaker at last year’s inaugural event and this year Bliss has raised the bar, doubling the number of speakers to 75. That group includes a who’s who of entrepreneurs such as Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, Palms Casino founder Gavin Maloof, UStream.TV founder Brad Hunstable, Hard Rock Cafe and House of Blues founder Isaac Tigrett, Aaron Patzer, founder of Web-based money manager Mint.com, Gina Bianchini, co-founder of social networking site Ning and John Paul DeJoria, founder of Paul Mitchell salons.

Josh Stein, managing director at prominent venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, will also be among the speakers.

A startup financing strategy that works

– Kenneth H. Marks is the founder and managing partner of Raleigh, North Carolina-based High Rock Partners. He is also the lead author of the “Handbook of Financing Growth”. The views expressed are his own. –

Statistically no one gets venture capital. The ratio of the number of companies started each year vs. the number of companies funded is minuscule. For most companies it’s just plain unrealistic. So, how do the 99.9 percent of startup businesses get funded?

The financing strategy is bootstrapping in stages based on iterative phases of success and only doing what must be done to get to the next phase with minimal capital. This is a resourceful and practical approach:

Small businesses need cash, not rhetoric

– George A. Cloutier, a graduate of Harvard Business School, is the founder and CEO of American Management Services, one of the Nation’s largest turnaround and management services firms specializing in small and mid-size companies. He is also the author of the bestselling book, “Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing”. The opinions expressed are his own. –

The lack of serious small business aid proposals, empty rhetoric, and general intransigence by the Republicans has anointed the Democrats by default as “The Party of Small Business.”

The Obama bill to inject $30 billion into community banks with the primary focus of expanding small business lending, is hardly a panacea. But Republican attempts to block the bill, for a variety of political (although not practical) reasons, amounts to more stumbling and bumbling by the opposition that has produced no worthwhile alternative.

Big business pipeline for small business

CORRECTED: the Universal College Application was created by ApplicationsOnline LLC and not the NCAA as was previously stated.

With President Obama’s small business bill stalled in Congress, big business is trying to pick up the slack.

Six of America’s largest corporations – IBM, AT&T, Bank of America, Citigroup, Pfizer and UPS – have banded together to create a “one-stop shop” for small and mid-sized businesses looking to sell to them and take advantage of the nearly $150 billion awarded collectively in contracts each year.

Bolstering our entrepreneurial ecosystem

Peter Cohan and U. Srinivasa Rangan teach at Babson College and are authors of “Capital Rising: How Capital Flows Are Changing Business Systems All Over the World”. The views expressed are their own.

Since the “Great Recession” began, at least 8.5 million jobs have vanished. How will we create new ones? The answer lies in improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem (EE).

Everyone looks to entrepreneurs to create jobs. The Kauffman Foundation found that firms five years old and younger created most of the 40 million jobs in the U.S. between 1980 and 2005.

Are turnkey hospitals possible?

Jon Weiner envisions a day when he can quickly build a new hospital utilizing American best practices and state-of-the-art technology anywhere in the world. While our experts were excited by Weiner’s healthcare concept they were mixed on his ability to ultimately pull it off.

Weiner co-founded the New York-based startup OR International LLC (www.orintl.com) with the goal of exporting a higher-quality American brand of healthcare throughout the world, with a primary focus on improving patient treatment (see original story here). In just six years ORI has opened specialty hospitals in the UK, Africa and Cyprus.

“Our first hospital in the UK has the highest patient satisfaction rates of any hospital in England,” said Weiner, whose company operates five specialty hospitals in the UK, one in Cyprus as a partnership with the American Heart Institute and last January opened the doors on a new $100-million facility in Botswana, Africa.

Entrepreneurship void felt in Jackson Hole

– Jeff Bussgang is a general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners and an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School. He is the author of “Mastering the VC Game” and writes the blog “Seeing Both Sides”. The following is an abridged version of a blog that originally appeared on PE Hub. The views expressed are his own. –

I love Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It’s one of the most extraordinarily beautiful settings in the world. One cannot help being in a good mood when observing the breathtaking wildlife, open sky and the awe-inspiring Grand Tetons.

Thus, reading the reports from last weekend’s annual economist confab in Jackson Hole could not have been more depressing. If the practitioners of the dismal science sound this pessimistic amidst such an uplifting setting, what will their attitude be when they trade in their cowboy boots for green shades and return to their drab offices to stare at spreadsheets? A usually staid Allen Sinai sounded positively hyperbolic, yet apparently spoke for many at the conference, when he told the New York Times, “I’m more worried than I have ever been about the future of the U.S. economy. The challenge is unique: poor and diminishing growth, a sticky unemployment rate, sky-high deficits and a sovereign debt that makes us one of the most fiscally irresponsible countries in the world.”

Michigan launches “world’s largest” startup competition

The proliferation of startup incubator or accelerator programs has made it tough for most to stand out among the crowd. So the way the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition chose to do it, is by offering what it claims is the “world’s largest” cash award – $500,000 – to the winning business pitch.

The only condition is that the winner has to set up shop in Michigan.

“Seventy years ago we were Silicon Valley,” said David Egner, executive director of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan, which provided $750,000 – in the form of a grant – of the more than $1 million in prize money for the competition. “That DNA is still here and we need to re-highlight the activities that are already happening and the things we need to do in Michigan to return it to its innovative roots.”

The contest is the collaborative efforts of four of the state’s biggest incubator programs: Ann Arbor Spark, Automation Alley, Macomb-OU INCubator and TechTown. The competition will be accepting proposals from startups around the globe through October 6 and will award the grand prize on December 12th. There is also a secondary competition just for students with concepts for longer-term business viability, which runs through October 22.

RatePoint taking aim at Yelp?

Customer reviews can be crucial to a small business, especially in a climate where consumers are trying to make smarter decisions about their purchases. It’s no surprise then that review sites such as Yelp, Local and Mahalo have flourished over the last few years.

RatePoint is the latest to attempt to cash in on the trend, having secured more than $20 million in funding since it launched in 2006. Recently the Needham, Massachusetts-based site got another $7-million from three local venture capital firms: Prism Venture Works, .406 Ventures and Castile Ventures.

Neal Creighton, RatePoint’s co-founder and CEO, insisted his company is not just another Yelp, noting RatePoint’s reviews come from actual customers and not just a community of reviewers that may have no connection to the company. It’s a subtle, but important distinction, said Creighton.

Online backup crucial for small businesses

– Vance Checketts is the VP of Operations for online storage company Mozy. The opinions expressed are his own. –

Among the myriad challenges small and medium businesses (SMBs) are currently facing, data loss is an often unanticipated – but very real – cause of revenue and productivity loss.

Businesses of all sizes depend on files and email stored on desktops, laptops, and servers for their very survival. Natural disaster, theft, or even something as commonplace as a cup of coffee spilled on a laptop is not just an IT nightmare. Such events can literally put a small business out of business.