By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Entrepreneurial centers have to embrace the very risk taking philosophy that they espouse for their clients, and one of those individuals who has fully embraced that concept is Jeff Brown at The Biz Foundry in Cookeville.
His center serves a reasonably rural area, but Brown is not letting those challenges keep him from pushing the proverbial envelope as evidenced by two new initiatives.
We caught-up with the engaging and effervescent President recently to talk about the new programs and his recent health scare. Regarding the latter, he says everything is fine, he’s back to the same pace as before.
The two new initiatives involve a one-day conference on innovation in manufacturing; the other is helping support a peer group for female entrepreneurs.
Intrapreneurship and Innovation Conference
“Intrapreneurship and innovation in established companies is a hot topic,” Brown says of the theme for the all-day event set for September 14 at the Saltbox Inn in Cookeville. “Some of the most innovative people in manufacturing will be speaking.”
The list includes Kimberly Williams, Vice President of Manufacturing and Quality at Calsonic Kansei Corporation; Michael Walton, Global Head of Manufacturing for Google; and Bharat Balasubramanian, Professor and Executive Director of the Center for Advanced Vehicle Technology at the University of Alabama.
Their topics include “Innovation in Lean Manufacturing” (Williams), “Innovation and the Mercedes Benz Story” (Balasubramanian), and “Creating a Culture of Innovation: How Google Does It” (Walton).
The target audience for the conference, which The Biz Foundry is undertaking in partnership with the Association for Manufacturing Excellence, is targeted at upper level decision makers in manufacturing who are pursuing new projects or want to move from incremental to sustainable innovation.
“We’ll be talking about how manufacturers create a skunkworks,” Brown says. That concept ties closely to The Biz Foundry’s entrepreneurship role.
“I’ll be talking during the conference about how start-ups can be a part of an established manufacturer’s innovation initiative,” Brown adds.
He hopes to attract 100 attendees, mostly from the Southeast, and plans to use some of the proceeds to help underwrite the entrepreneurial activities of The Biz Foundry. Registration fee is $595. To register, click here.
Brown says the other initiative that is focused on female entrepreneurs is being championed by one of the organization’s board members. She is both a new mother and a person working alongside her husband to grow a new business.
“She told me she did not have a peer group,” Brown said. “It’s different being a female entrepreneur. The pressures are different.”
The result is a new group named “Starter Chicks.” It is an invitation only, monthly gathering of female founders of businesses that are not in sectors typical for female entrepreneurs. There’s been one meeting with about five attendees, although Brown expects it to grow to about 20.
“The Biz Foundry will not set the agenda, only execute it,” he explains.
How about the name? Brown simply says, “Let’s have an attitude about it.”