Innovation Week


Innovation Week offers entrepreneurs more than 35 unique sessions. Join us May 11th – 15th for Innovation Week.

Innovation Week is a weeklong workshop and lecture series for Central Texas entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders.

 This is an expanded version of our long-running Economic Summit, and we look forward to providing you with the skills you need to live your dreams. Join us at our PeopleFund Austin offices, 2921 E. 17th Street Bldg. D Ste. 1 Austin TX 78702 and start transforming your business.

Monday, May 11th

9:00-10:00 AM     Basics of Business Planning with SCORE

The Business Plan presentation will show how to build a business plan using a standard format.  Key points covered in a business plan include what is your company product or service, your strengths and weaknesses, what organizational structure will you use, who are your competitors, what is your marketing and sales plan and what are your financial details.

10:00-11:00 AM     Leadership at Every Stage with Stacy McCracken, Baylor University Executive MBA Program

Headshot_StacyMcCrakenWhether you are seeking funding for a new business idea, working for a start-up or leveraging your skills at a well-established organization, dynamic leadership is vital to your success. It doesn’t matter if you lead people today or hope to lead people it the future, it is never too early to consider your leadership legacy. What would your life, career or business look like if you were more intentional about the legacy you hope to leave? What leadership skills are critical to leaving a lasting, positive legacy? Join Stacey to discover three secrets only the best leaders know. This workshop will help you understand the most critical leadership skills that successful business leaders have and help you create your own personal action plan to refine your own leadership skills. After the workshop, you will be ready to take meaningful action to intentionally create your leadership legacy.

11:00 AM-12:00 PM     Saving Money and Time with Marketing and Sales Automation with Diana Ying, Lionshare Partners

Headshot_DianaYingIs your business growing faster than you can hire new talent? Using simple, affordable technology tools can give you back the precious hours you need to really drive new sales and focus on the business decisions that matter…and enjoy some down time. Find out how you can leverage databases, spreadsheets, and more to build your company and boost your revenue.

12:00-1:00 PM     Becoming an Innovative Leader – How CEO’s Approach Leadership and Innovation with Ruben Cantu, Core Media

Headshot_RubenCantuCreating a culture of innovation is key to a businesses’ success. Finding and fostering a team that lives by this mentality is the differentiator between companies who thrive and ones who survive. Furthermore, all innovative companies have one thing in common, at the top, a CEO who truly understands how innovation works and how to create a path to allow it to flourish. In this panel talk you will hear from CEO’s, Leaders and Executive Coaches that will share with you some of the inside steps that it takes to turn around a company and have it thrive? What are the elements you need to consider? When is it too late to make the shift? How expensive will it be to make this change at the top? How much more expensive will it be not to make the shift?

1:00-2:00 PM     99% of Ideas Fail to Launch – Will Yours? with Elizabeth Frisch, The Thrival School

Headshot_ElizabethFrischHow many times have you tried to make a big idea happen and failed? Mission to Million$ by Elizabeth Frisch has captured over 20 years of experience in making the impossible with everyone from global Fortune 500 companies and government agencies to the U.S. Military and nonprofit organizations in one book. In this fun, fast-paced session, Elizabeth will provide 8 practices to ensure your avoid the 99.9% and become part of the select and successful  0.1% around your big idea!

2:00-3:00 PM     Cloning Yourself — How to Safely & Profitably Hire & Bring Your 1st Employee Up to Speed Faster with Jan Triplett, Business Success Center

Headshot_JanTriplettYou can’t clone all of you but you can get help to do some of your work without it taking all of your time and money. There’s a lot to think about and that’s before you hire. Even if it’s just you and them, you will need to be prepared in order to make this all worthwhile. Learn what to do and what not to do when it comes to hiring, onboarding, pay, benefits, and compliance. To be successful, you can’t do it all by yourself. We can’t cover it all but we can get you thinking on how to do it faster and better.

3:00-4:00 PM     When YOU Are the HR Department with Cherylann Occhipinti Campbell, C2 HR Solutions LLC

Headshot_CherylannOcchipintiCampbellSmall Business owners have to wear a lot of hats.  This workshop focuses on best practices critical when hiring, retaining, and managing an effective workforce, while staying in compliance with the myriad of Human Resources regulations. Practical checklists and resources will be provided.

4:00-5:00 PM     WordPress for Business with David Bradley, Patterns in the Cloud

Headshot_DavidBradleyIn this introductory workshop, David Bradley sets up a live website while explaining how small business owners and startups can leverage WordPress, the most popular software in the world for building and managing websites, to begin implementing their business online.

Tuesday, May 12th

9:00-10:00 AM     The Power of Your 30 Second Message with LeAnn Pashina, Creatively Communicate

Whether you are at a business networking meeting, social function or a Headshot_LeannaPashinachance meeting in public, it is important to be prepared to share your message and make an impact. Sever steps go into this seemingly short 30 second introduction to create a message that will make you memorable. Learn to formulate a message that will create results for you.


10:00-11:00 AM     3 Technologies to Use to Disrupt Your Company with Aaron C. Smith, About Disruption, LLC

Headshot_ACSmithIn this session, we’ll discuss emerging technologies that will impact your business. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn about big data, the “cloud” and how to best secure your company.


11:00 AM – 12:00 PM     Paperwork – What Records do I Really Need and Why? with Lisa Bargsley, Operational Strategies

Headshot_LisaBargsleyPaperwork! I don’t have the time to spend keeping up with details – I’m too busy growing my business and doing the work! Is this your thinking?  Have you ever asked yourself – what do I really need to have and to keep as records for the IRS, the State of Texas, my bank, or even the people I want to do business with?  If so, this class is for you!  Learn the basics of what records to create, how long to keep them, and how to use this information to grow your business even more!

12:00-1:00 PM     Banker Brown Bag Lunch: Small Business Banking

This special session will feature local bankers as they share information on small business checking, savings, credit card merchant services, and more.

1:00-2:00 PM     From the Page to the Stage – Elevator Speeches,Your Mission and You with Julie Gillis, Women’s Community Center of Central Texas

Headshot_JulieGillisEver find yourself in the perfect time and place to promote your organization but the words just wouldn’t come out? Trying to jazz up your elevator speech and get more practice in talking to others about your mission? This hour long workshop will address common concerns of writing and delivering the “Elevator speech” both in small groups but also in public speaking.

2:00-3:00 PM     Are You Ready for Success? with Koy McDermott, Leaders Inspire Leaders

About MeIn this workshop, participants will be taken through Koy’s inspirational journey of leaving the largest tech company in Silicon Valley to becoming a successful leadership coach. The session will be interactive and will include a free copy of the exercises from my upcoming book “Passion to Cash.”

3:00-4:00 PM     Outsmart the Competition and Save Money with Steve Pearson, Pearson Strategy Group

Headshot_StevePearsonEntrepreneurs and inventors have lots of big ideas and typically a lot fewer resources, money and time. This presentation will attempt to bring out some ideas on how what you should consider along the way to having a viable company, when it makes sense to invest in service providers, and minimize the risk of a business failure or legal risks.

4:00-5:00 PM     Startup and Rapid Growth with Matthew Pollard

Matthew_Pollard_ProfileIf you’re thinking  of starting a business, or reinvigorating your current one, this is one session not to be missed. With five multimillion-dollar business success stories to his name in industries as vastly different as telecommunication, construction, and nationally accredited education, Matthew has been characterized as a true differentiation, niche marketing, and sales systemization powerhouse. In this session Matthew Pollard will share his secret formula for pitching startup ideas and obtaining rapid growth.

Wednesday, May 13th

7:30-9:30 AM     Social Media Breakfast with Michelle Stinson Ross

Social media marketing is an ever changing landscape. Existing platforms frequently change how brands interact with their community networks. Some channels fade in their usefulness while new ones seem to pop up every day. With limits on time and budget, how do entrepreneurs keep up with the changes and effectively reach the people critical to success?

This hour-long interactive presentation will address how to choose the social media channels that are the best fit for your business and how to jump right into the latest iterations of the most popular platforms.

  • Choose the best channels for local store-front businesses
  • Find the best way to reach customers for your e-commerce or virtual services site.
  • What networks are best for B2B vs B2C
  • What new services or tools will give you an edge over your competition
  • Making sure your time is spent on the activities most beneficial to your business goals

10:00-11:00 AM     Scaling your business. Opportunities and competitors are now global. How entrepreneurs can leverage globalization to grow fast with Sandeep Kumar, TechRanch

Headshot_SandeepKumarSandeep has been successfully building global teams and startup businesses for the past 25 years. He will share his insights and experiences .  The workshop attendees will work on a few of their ideas with Sandeep exploring with them on how to scale their business in a globally connected world

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM     Business Taxes- What You Need to Know When Starting a Business with Lisa Bargsley, Operational Strategies

Headshot_LisaBargsleyThis workshop will provide an overview of the IRS and State of Texas forms needed to comply with the various taxing authorities.   You will take away skills that will assist you in gathering data for completing various tax returns as required by the business entity structures.  Understanding the tax forms and the required data needed to accurately prepare your tax returns will reduce the cost of preparation as well as reduce your stress and frustrations.  This workshop will also give you the key to understanding that tax is a good thing.

12:00-1:00 PM     Banker Brown Bag Lunch: Consumer Checking, Savings, and Credit

This special session will feature local bankers as they share information on consumer checking, savings, credit cards, and more.

1:00-2:00 PM     Trademarks for the Startup and Early Stage Entrepreneur with Brian Magnum, Lee and Hayes PLLC

Brian specializes in developing and managing unique intellectual property portfolios to fit each client’s circumstances.  He has extensive experience drafting and prosecuting patent and trademark applications, litigating intellectual property matters, and negotiating and drafting a wide variety of commercial agreements for companies ranging in size from single-founder startups to the largest multinational corporations. Brian is also an experienced computer programmer and former in-house counsel at a public technology company. Brian leverages his diverse background to better inform his clients’ strategic IP decisions and help them improve internal processes

2:00-3:00 PM     3 Kinds of Successful Business Owners/ 3 Kinds of Growth: Which are you and what should be your growth strategy? with Jan Triplett, Business Success Center

Headshot_JanTriplettThere are three types of successful business owners. Which one are you? Find out which of the three you are and how to use that knowledge to grow your business by playing to your strengths and addressing weak areas.


3:00-4:00 PM     What is Strategy, Really? with Tim Hamilton, Astonish Design

Headshot_TimHamiltonWe can all agree that taking time to work on our businesses (as opposed to working in your business) is important. But by working on our business, are we in fact working on the right things? I wasn’t. For years I worked tirelessly to write systems and improve processes and felt satisfied knowing that our operations got better and better. We were more efficient than ever. However, what I failed to recognize was that I was optimizing our engines without setting the steering wheel in the right direction. What I needed to be working on was strategy, not operations. This, I have learned, is a common problem. Many entrepreneurs spend their time striving for operational excellence thinking that they are doing strategy work. The problem with operational excellence, however, is that it doesn’t create a sustainable competitive advantage. As you improve, so too do your competitors. The whole industry adopts best practices and becomes increasingly similar. In order to achieve an advantage, you must choose how to be different, not how to be better. With research from Clayton Christensen, Michael Porter, Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema, this presentation will provide you with answers to your growth questions. We’ll define strategy and start working on actionable questions that will enable you to find your point of difference. In time, this work will give you a path to your competitive advantage and the growth that has seemed so elusive.

4:00-5:00 PM     The Marketing Core with Grant Chambers, Workhorse Digital

There is a core set of often overlooked marketing activities that any small business should execute in order to acquire and retain customers. Grant Chambers and Theresa Andrews have spent the last twelve years helping small businesses achieve big marketing results through affordable combinations of design, people, strategy, and technology. This presentation will leave you with at least one transformational idea that you can start executing tomorrow to achieve great results.

 Thursday, May 14th

9:00-10:00 AM    The Power of Email Marketing Featuring Social Media Engagement  with Lynne Marcus, Marcus + Company

LynneMarcus_NewAt the heart of small business marketing are the campaigns that drive action – collections of marketing activities that help a small business or organization to achieve its goals and objectives. Newsletters and Announcements have become a core component of those campaign choices. Email is more important than ever – to the communication efforts of businesses and nonprofits everywhere; and to the customer, donor, client or supporter of those organizations. This session will reveal some simple but effective best practices and considerations for the small business or nonprofit seeking to make their email newsletters more effective. Attendees with learn about campaigns in general: what is a campaign, types of newsletters; what to write about in your newsletter or announcement and how to consider using images; subject line best practices, and when to send your newsletter; the importance of understanding how connected email and social media are (they have to be done together); and what types of additional tools might be useful.

Join us and learn some great new strategies to help your email and social media efforts be more effective components of one of the core campaign types, newsletters and announcements.

10:00-11:00 AM     From Idea to Action: The First Steps with Kevin Koym, Tech Ranch

Headshot_KevinKoymEmbarking on the building of your first business and taking on the journey of the entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart… planning is important, but only action defines the entrepreneur.  In this workshop, Kevin Koym will demonstrate how to take those first steps by illustrating some of the successes and scars he has had throughout his own journey.  Both for the first time entrepreneur and the entrepreneur that is already engaged, this workshop promises to be engaging and valuable.

11:00 AM-12:00 PM     Shrek: A True Executive Leader with Penny Crow, Operational Strategies

Headshot_PennyCrowIn this presentation, Penny will discuss her personal story: Shrek- A True Executive Leader. Those experiences created a passion for leadership development. Her research resulted in PILLARS – a toolbox that can further develop a leader at any stage of life. Penny will inspire you to be more like Shrek: he had a plan, he was intentional in his quest, he was an informal leader that rose from the crowd, he used language understood by all, he knew when to take action and when to wait, he used resources that didn’t always cost money and lead to create a sustainable kingdom. You can’t be a leader unless someone is following you. Who is following you?

12:00-1:00 PM     Banker Brown Bag Lunch: Retirement, Investment, College Savings

This special session will feature local bankers as they share information on special savings programs for retirements, investments, money markets, and college savings.

1:00-2:00 PM     Build Your Marketing Toolkit with Amy Hajdu, Say It Said Marketing

Many small businesses and organizations find themselves seeking the right strategies to make their marketing efforts as effective as possible. Learn how Constant Contact Headshot_AmyHajdusuggests you should think about marketing and what tools will help accomplish your goals. Core concepts include: marketing goal = measureable response, engagement marketing, word of mouth now online, marketing goals and objectives, 4 Pillars of marketing success, and campaigns that drive action. With so many different marketing activities that small businesses can focus on, you often miss some of the important marketing concepts that define why those activities are so important. Learn some of those core concepts and how a little bit of marketing knowledge can go a long way.

2:00-3:00 PM     5 Keys to Delivering Successful Projects with Tarik Aossey

Headshot_TarikAosseyMany organizations big and small don’t realize how much of their vital resources are being wasted on mismanaged project initiatives. As we all work to do more with less, there is much to be gained from understanding and applying some basic project management principles to our efforts. Based upon over 20 years of practical experience, this short interactive workshop will present 5 key best practices that could be the difference between success and failure on your next project initiative.

3:00-4:00 PM     Public Relations for Small Business with Dave Manzer

portraitThis workshop will help startups and small businesses learn the basics of PR. We will discuss how to find newsworthy stories about what you are doing, which kinds of media to approach with your story ideas, how to pitch reporters, and even discuss some pointers on how to write news pitches and press releases. The workshop is designed to be interactive so plan to share your stories and have a little fun along the way.

4:00-5:00 PM    Grant-astic! Grant Writing 101 with Amber Cooney, PeopleFund 

amber headshotIt’s one thing to write a grant, but it’s another to write a grant that will get funded! Ultimately, grant writing is about the people reading your grant, what moves them, what they are looking for, and what turns them off. Join PeopleFund’s Director of Development and Communications Amber Cooney to learn the do’s and don’ts of writing a successful, persuasive grant.

Friday, May 15th

9:00-10:00 AM      Innovating Your Reputation: What Makes Word of Mouth Work for You with Elijah May, The Experience Firm

elijah mayFirst the good news. Over the last six years, I’ve spoken to thousands of business owners at colleges, universities, SBDCs, chamber events, and conferences. In that time, 99.9% have agreed that word of mouth is the effective form of marketing but only a handful have had any idea how to invest in or leverage it. The good news is it’s so much easier than you think. Now the bad news. The bad news is this session will probably be intense. In the hour that we have together, I’m going to challenge you to come up with a plan for focusing on the one thing that can make your business renowned. That one thing is different for everyone, so you’re going to have to work at it, but every business I’ve ever seen has had an opportunity to be and do something that is literally remarkable. In figuring out your one thing, we’ll explore the psychological nuts and bolts of a pattern interrupt, discuss how Personal Experience Factor (PEF) affects your advertising equation, and what the relationship is between your culture, your brand, and you reputation. Along the way, we’ll talk about some great books like The One Thing by Gary Keller, Marketing Outrageously by Jon Spoelstra, and Contagious by Jonah Berger. By the time we’re done, you should have most or all of the resources that you need to truly understand word of mouth and make it work for your business.

10:00-11:00 AM     Kick Time Management to the Curb with Maura Thomas, Regain Your Time

Headshot_MauraThomasThe rapid advance in technology over the last 50 years is literally shaping the evolution of our brains. The old ideas of multitasking and time management in the “information age” are being replaces by new ideas of focus, control and the Attention Age. The secret of productivity, of getting things done, of living the life we want now comes down to the ability to manage our attention. Multi-tasking is becoming less desirable and the ability to focus, more rare. In this presentation, Maura will debunk the myths about “time management” and “information overload”, empowering attendees with secrets and strategies to: more easily manage all the details of life and work, master technology that supports productivity-or sabotages it, find joy and exhilaration in daily activities instead of exhaustion, lower stress and improve clarity and peace of mind.

11:30 AM-1:00 PM     PeopleConnect Luncheon featuring the Small Business Outlook with Bank of America

Sit down with local professionals at our PeopleConnect event and build your business network over a delicious lunch. Meet a new vendor or prospective client, share your business offerings and expand your business reach in a comfortable setting in Central East Austin. Hear from Bank of America’s local small business banking team how small business owners in Texas and across the United States feel about their success and the future of small business. (lunch provided)

1:00-2:00 PM     How to be a Green Business Leader with Mary Priddy, City of Austin Office of Sustainability

This workshop will offer tips on how business can be more sustainable and give an overview of our offices’ Austin Green Business Leader program.

2:00-3:00 PM     Bootstrapping or Raising Capital – When to do each with Sam Thacker, Business Finance Solutions

Start-up entrepreneurs face the challenge of funding their small business. Most start-Headshot_SamThackerups begin by “bootstrapping” their company’s growth. While bootstrapping has worked for many young companies, there are other options to consider.  Eventually, most companies will need access to working capital. In this seminar we will explore bootstrapping and when other financing options make more sense. We’ll cover financing options for different stages of growth, how to prepare for raising capital and what lenders and investors want to see.

3:00-4:00 PM     Branding Essentials for Small Business with Francoise Luca, Business Finance Solutions

Branding and marketing can be confusing for small business owners. Add in the time and expense of advertising and the complexities of social media and many owners are Headshot_FrancoiseLucajust overwhelmed. This brief seminar will review the basic elements required for branding and marketing a small business today.  We’ll cover what should be included in your marketing plan, logos and corporate identity, when to pay for advertising and how to choose a social media platform.

2015 Innovation Week Speaker Presentations

Click here to view our 2015 Innovation Week speaker presentations!



Many thanks to the partners who help Innovation Week be a success.

If you’d like to sponsor Innovation week, click here for more information.

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