International Speaker and Inventor of the Marshmallow Challenge to Deliver Keynote at TechEDge2012

Chandler, AZ— Keynote speaker Tom Wujec will explain how companies can Foster Innovation in Turbulent Times at the TechEDge2012 Conference 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 at the Chandler City Council Chambers, 88 E. Chicago St.

Tom Wujec speaks internationally on innovation: why it matters, why it is a vital engine of economic growth (especially today), and how to foster it. Wujec works with Fortune 100 companies to create innovation practices at all stages, from strategic planning to design and implementation. As a Fellow at Autodesk—the Oscar-winning industry leader in 3D computer animation technology, and one of the world’s largest software companies—Wujec has worked with a diverse range of clients, from the largest automotive and consumer product manufacturers to the visual effects and gaming companies establishing billion dollar industries.

Wujec is known for developing the Marshmallow Challenge design experiment that reveals surprising lessons about teamwork, collaboration, and project management. The challenge sounds simple enough: teams try to build the tallest freestanding structure they can out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string and a marshmallow. What makes it difficult, though, is the need for teams to organize, prototype and finally build the structure in the short time frame. See Wujec’s TED Talk and information about the Marshmallow Challenge at

TechEDge2012 is designed to equip technology entrepreneurs and emerging growth companies with the practical tools and innovative resources they need to succeed. It will feature real life stories from business owners, partnered with practical tips from experts on topics including: Incubator Advantages, How to Win SBIR Awards & Commercialization through Strategic Partnerships, Crowdfunding and the JOBS Act, IP/Patents, a Resource Pitch and Interactive Lightening Round.

TechEDge2012 is supported by Title Sponsor, Fennemore Craig, Arizona SBDC Network, and ASU. It is hosted by the City of Chandler’s Innovations Incubator in partnership with the Arizona Business Incubation Association (AZBIA).

Cost for the full-day event is $50, with fees waived for students and incubator clients. For detailed information and to register visit


Sanjay Dhole Superstar

The attached picture is from the Association of Small Business Development Centers Annual Meeting held recently in New Orleans, Louisiana. Sanjay, Technology Programs Coordinator from Maricopa Community College SBDC was honored as the Arizona State Star at the event, held amoung nearly 1,200 peers from accross the United States. Sanjay was also a presenter at the conference, sharing his expertise in working with technology businesses and tools to help these businesses succeed.

Congratulations, Sanjay!

A Guide to What Entrepreneurs Can Patent

Got a great idea for a business? Wondering if you can patent it before someone else comes up with something similar?

Technically, you can’t patent an idea for a business – for example, if you have a unique idea for an online store or a new chain of themed restaurants. However, you may be able to protect and patent a method of doing business – if it meets very specific criteria and requirements.

Here’s what you need to know about what patent protection can do for your business, and about other intellectual property issues that should also come into play.

What You Can Patent

There are three types of patents you can apply for based on the nature of your invention: utility patents, design patents, or plant (of the green variety) patents.

If you have a business idea that is somewhat abstract, then you may be eligible to apply for a utility patent. A utility patent may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful:

Article of manufacture
Composition of matter
Any new and useful improvement of these.
That’s a pretty broad bucket of innovation. But the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is also very specific about the requirements for these patents. Your idea or invention must be:

Non-obvious – meaning anyone else with the same skills in this area could not have come up with the same idea
Clearly explained and documented so that someone equally skilled could make and use the invention
The Patenting Process

If you are confident your idea falls within the definitions and requirements above, check out the next steps, which will include checking for previously filed patents, and are described here by the USPTO. If you’re not clear whether your idea falls within these boundaries, read USPTO’s “How do I Know whether my Invention is Patentable?”.

Either way, it’s worth taking time to consult with a patent lawyer. If you choose to proceed, be prepared. This can take time and using the services of a patent attorney to help you meet the precise documentation and filing requirements is going to cost you. If you are seeking outside investment and have established that your business idea or invention is patentable, it may be worth rolling the cost of getting legal help into your business plan and seeing if your investors will cover the costs.

Other Ways of Protecting Your Business Idea

Even if your idea isn’t patentable, there are still important assets of your business you can protect. For example, web content can be copyrighted. You can also trademark, and should do so if you want to claim and protect your product or business name. Here’s a quick overview of these two forms of protection and how to register for them:

Copyright – If your business involves creating original written works, music, or videos, these can be covered by copyright laws. Copyright can be claimed through the U.S. Copyright Office for a small fee. Note that copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. While you can express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in your description, copyright will not protect the idea itself.

Trademark – A trademark is different from a patent because it only protects words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services. Trademarks, unlike patents, can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in commerce. Trademark infringement can carry a high cost for your business. Before you pick a name, use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark search tool to see if a similar name, or variations of it, is trademarked. If your chosen name is unclaimed you can then register for the trademark online (for a fee).

Gateway CEI Incubator Planning 500 New Jobs for Region

Officials with a new business incubator at GateWay Community College in central Phoenix say they hope to add nearly 500 jobs to the area within the next few years.

To accomplish that goal, they know they must carefully select businesses and startups with potential to grow and excel.

The Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation has 35 spaces available, but only two businesses have completed the center’s rigorous application process. The facility, which cost about $6 million to build, seeks to house and develop early-stage companies focused on biotechnology, clean technology, renewable energy, technology and software, and professional services.

“We provide a phenomenal amount of entrepreneurship service,” Executive Director Jeff Saville said. “All entrepreneurs see something shiny, and they will chase that for a while, but it’s our job to make sure they are staying focused.”

Phoenix has in interest in the development. The city contributed about $800,000 to the project — using 2006 voter-approved bond money — and it also helped leverage a $2 million grant from the Economic Development Administration, according to John Chan, Phoenix’s community and economic development director.

Chan said the city has targeted bio-life sciences and “young emerging enterprises” as industry sectors to focus on: “These sectors attract high-quality jobs and have high-growth potential.”

The Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation staff and mentors work closely with each of the budding businesses, both residential and affiliate. So far, only Voltmarc Technology Inc., a circuit tracing and monitoring research and development company, and Arbsource, a biotechnology company, have successfully signed on. An advisory board must approve all participating companies. Saville said they have about six more companies in the “pre-incubation queue.”

“I take pride in CEI being an incubator that advertises a high degree of selectivity,” Arbsource founder and CEO Mark Sholin said. “Resident companies have to have not only an excellent business model but also a strong network and sufficient financial traction to be able to support habitation at CEI.”

Arbsource, which deals with waste-water treatment in the food and beverage industry, was founded in August of last year. The company took up residence in the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation in July, after leaving SkySong, the Arizona State University Scottsdale Innovation Center.Sholin decided the company had enough money to branch out and find a larger space with new networking opportunities.

“We went in with an open mind and had high expectations,” he said of the GateWay project. “CEI has the perfect mix of office space, lab facilities, mentoring, and business-development resources to complement what we have built so far with Arbsource.”

Along with its 35 spaces, the center offers the resources of 85 mentors whose clients, both residential and affiliate, can utilize, according to marketing assistant Monique Jones.

“We lean heavily on our mentors to really help us manage the clients and help the clients,” Saville said. Mentors dish advice and provide support in areas such as human resources, accounting, public relations, social media and day-to-day activities.

The center also provides furnished offices, eight equipped wet labs, shared conference rooms and break room, and equipment needed for day-to-day office activities.

Although companies lease the space on a year-to-year basis, the incubation program takes from two to five years.

Despite Arbsource leaving SkySong for the Phoenix-based project, Saville said the center collaborates with all incubators in the area. He called the relationship between the incubators a “neat ecosystem.”

The National Business Incubation Association estimates there are 7,000 business incubators in the world, and typically 87 percent of companies that graduate from such programs stay in business three years later.

“What we want to get out of this is opportunity to get in front of investors and to grow the business so that we can create jobs here in Arizona,” said Mark Mahoney,Voltmarc Technologies Inc. founder and inventor. “This is a huge asset to our business, it really is.”

Saville said the center pursues companies that have a business plan that can produce jobs, and helps foster companies that are not yet ready to join the program. Saville’s goal is to add 500 jobs to the Phoenix community in three to five years, but he has 10 years to accomplish that goal.

As the center grows, Saville said the GateWay Community College campus, near 40th and Washington streets, and surrounding area will become a hub for entrepreneurial activity.

The center had a small-scale opening in October and began accepting applications in March. Jones said they will host a grand opening in the spring, following the completion of the remaining construction in December.

“I’m just amazed at the opportunities out here,” Saville said. “I’m meeting some of the best startup companies I’ve seen in a long time.”

Read more:

Congratulations to Sanjay Dhole, Maricopa and Now Arizona State Star!

Sanjay Dhole is Technology Coordinator for the Maricopa SBDC in Phoenix, and recently awarded the Star Peformer Award by the Arizona SBDC Network in July in Prescott, Arizona. He will go on to the National level in September, and the Association of Small Business Development Centers will recognize him as an outstanding SBDC employee at its 32nd Annual Conference, Tuesday, September 11, 2012 in New Orleans. ASBDC State Stars are SBDC employees exhibiting exemplary performance, significant contribution to their state or regional SBDC program, and shows a strong commitment to small business. Congratulations to all of this year’s State Stars!

For the Facebook posting from ASBDC go to the following link…

Arizona Entrepreneurial Efforts Showing Results!

Arizona entrepreneurs are creating more jobs, making more money and are expressing more optimism about the future of the economy than counterparts in other markets, according to the Global Entrepreneur Indicator.
The GEI, an annual survey from the Alexandria, Va.-based nonprofit Entrepreneurs’ Organization, surveyed entrepreneurs around the world to measure their success and their predictions for the future.
Arizona entrepreneurs rated highly, surpassing their counterparts from across the globe.
In the past six months, 62 percent of Arizona entrepreneurs added full-time employees compared to the global average of 59 percent, according to the survey.
During that same time frame, 71 percent of local entrepreneurs reported an uptick in revenue. The global average was 68 percent.
Revenue wasn’t the only increase, either, with 60 percent of Arizona entrepreneurs reporting an increase in their businesses’ net profit, whereas only 16 percent reported a decrease over the past six months.
While there are conflicting indicators and data about whether or not the economy is on the mend, 41 percent of Arizona entrepreneurs are optimistic the U.S. economic environment will improve in the coming months.
Though fewer than half are optimistic about the economy’s future, 85 percent of local entrepreneurs said they would start a new business in the current economic climate, according to the EO survey.
The numbers back up the notion that Arizona is a great place to start and do business, said Jason Rush, chairman of Entrepreneurs’ Organization Arizona.
“There is a good environment for entrepreneurial companies in Arizona,” he said.
Rush said that many of the members of EO Arizona are not cutting back, but instead are expanding and hiring.
David Anderson, chair of the communications committee with EO Arizona, said the survey results indicate what everyone has been saying: small businesses are going to drive the economic recovery.
“It’s stronger in Arizona (because) this is a very predominant small to mid-size business market,” Anderson said. “What the EO survey represents is the economy is growing across all sectors.”
Because of Arizona’s dearth of larger companies, entrepreneurs are key to Arizona’s economy, said Max Hansen, CEO and co-founder of, a recruiting company which has experienced exponential growth in the past year.
“Since we don’t have many Fortune 500 businesses headquartered in Phoenix, I think the community has kind of thrived in small businesses, which in turn has started to develop new businesses and entrepreneurs,” Hansen said.
Hansen cited the burgeoning incubator scene in the Valley as one of the reasons why entrepreneurs fare so well in Arizona.
“Arizona is just an excellent place to start and launch a business,” Hansen said.
Rush said because Arizona’s population skews younger, it is natural there would be more entrepreneurial ventures and businesses in the state.
“It creates more opportunities for them to do new and different things,” he said.
Arizona offers access to the West Coast, has an attractive cost of labor, diversity of labor and some legislative actions that make Arizona attractive as a market, Anderson said.
Rush admits even with the strong numbers from this survey and stories from EO members, everything is not rosy economically in the state.
“I think things are starting to come back in different segments,” he said. “Is it perfect? No. Is there full access to capital that’s probably really needed? No. But it’s better than it was a couple years ago.”

Seedspot Incubator Chosen for Startup USA Arizona site

Startup America Partnership will launch an Arizona chapter this fall, bringing to the state more resources and relationships to keep Arizona’s talented entrepreneurs at home to create local jobs.

The new chapter, to be called Startup Arizona, will look to accelerate the growth and recognize the talents of local startups with a series of local events, resources and peer mentoring programs at the business, college and high school levels.

Startup America Partnership is a national movement that seeks to connect the country’s startups with resources and expertise they need to grow.

“We’ve had our eye on Arizona for quite some time,” said Startup America Partnership CEO and co-founder of, Scott Case. “There has been a lot of activity coming out of this region and we’ve been waiting for the right team to come in and really put fire behind the Startup America mission and join the now 27 startup regions across the country.”

Startup Arizona will provide a variety of support services to support any stage of a new business. The region intends to focus on socially conscious ventures that create positive impact in the world and counsel established business on how they can be more socially conscious.

“We also have a strong desire to energize local high schools with entrepreneurial mentoring programs in an effort to spark creativity at an early age,” said Brandon Clarke, who helped bring Startup America Partnership to Arizona.

Local incubator Seed Spot will serve as the anchor for the Startup Arizona chapter.

“Seed Spot is proud to serve as the anchor for the Startup Arizona movement and help build an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs that are focused on more than sheer profit,” said Courtney Klein Johnson, co-founder of Seed Spot.

Startup Arizona’s official launch will coincide with the launch of Seed Spot this fall at a special event held at the incubator’s new headquarters at the corner of 24th and Washington streets in Phoenix. The event is scheduled for Oct. 4. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Startup America CEO Scott Case are expected to attend.

Startup America Partnership launched on the steps of the White House in 2011. Its mission is to provide startups access to the corporations, investors, and services they need to grow. It brings together startups and local champions from around the country focused on creating successful networks for young high-growth companies to thrive. AOL co-founder Steve Case (no relation to Scott Case) chairs the Partnership and the Kaufman and Case foundations are its founding partners