Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - December 3, 2010

Conference shows investors opportunities in Tri-Valley

More than 200 early stage company executives, business investors and entrepreneurs joined in the two-day GROWCalifornia conference in Pleasanton last month, a first-time event here that showcased the advantages of relocating or starting up a business in the Tri-Valley. Sponsored by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce and a host of business and other business organizations, the event brought what Chamber President Scott Raty called a "Wow" response from participants, many who said they had seldom ventured this far east of their enclaves on the Peninsula or other parts of the state. After tours of the area and in discussions at the conference, which was held at the Casa Real Conference Center on Vineyard Avenue, investors and others said they had no idea how much is going on here in Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley.

The mix of attendees was as important as the number and the mix was truly impressive. They included company CEOs, venture capitalists and "angel" investors from all over. Some of them who are as close as the Peninsula said they've been looking for business-friendly, less-crowded areas to expand their businesses and were impressed by the reception they received from local governments and organizations. One Reno-based CEO said that he's been looking to relocate his firm back to California and this visit sold him on the Tri-Valley.

Called "Game Changers & Risk Takers," the conference brought together high growth start-up and early-stage entrepreneurs. It was aimed at bringing a wide range of companies, professionals and service providers together for discussions on opportunities. These included alternative debt capital and grant sources, policymakers and other government officials, industry experts, leading technology authors, university and federal lab executives and researchers. The event also featured keynote speakers, expert panels, start-up capital pitches, product demonstrations, executive training sessions and "funder" roundtables.

According to Jon Gregory, the primary organizer for GROWCalifornia, the Game Changers conference is statewide in scope but specifically included this Pleasanton conference to spotlight the East Bay and the Tri-Valley region and the significant efforts under way here to advance innovation. Gregory said the conference's goal was to provide a Game Changing experience resulting in a year's worth of important contacts in less than 48 hours. Working with Tri-Valley businesses and organizations, the Game Changers conference brought experienced entrepreneurial strategists here in our effort to brand Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley as a hub of innovation, a two-day meeting that attracted attention statewide. If their enthusiasm for the advantages and opportunities they found here take root, we should be seeing many of them and their start-up companies coming here in the year ahead.

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