The Generous Nature of Entrepreneurs

December 4, 2009

Entrepreneurs are dreamers, creators, innovators, and builders.  They come in all shapes and sizes, and have businesses that run the gamut from global ventures and high technology to localized products and services.   But if there is one thing that entrepreneurs have in common, it is their generosity and willingness to help others.  It’s probably because entrepreneurs understand what it means to strive, to struggle, and to work towards a dream.

OTEF LogoEvery year for the past 5 years as Chairman of OTEF ,  I have watched as entrepreneurs from Arizona and across North America gather at the Arizona Entrepreneurship Conferences to learn from each other AND to help OTEF, the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation, raise the money need to fund programs that help at risk populations realize economic self 19742-logosufficiency through entrepreneurship with classes, mentoring, and other resources.  To learn more about OTEF and it’s programs – click here .

But even after the ‘show’ is over, the continuous challenge of funding these activities continues. 

This week, we got yet another example of the generosity of entrepreneurs when the team at  Pillsbury Wine Company, reached out with a wonderful offer to help in furthering our mission.


Pillsbury Wine Company is the brainchild of Sam Pillsbury, award-winning New Zealand  and American film-maker (The Quiet Earth, Free Willy 3, Endless Bummer) and former co-owner of Dos Cabezas winery in Southeastern Arizona. Wine is his passion and Sam has done it all- from planting vines to serving Dos Cabezas wines at the White House. Dos Cabezas wines have received stellar reviews over the years and Sam is now ready to take his skills and experience in a new direction.

Sam is joined in the project by winemaker Eric Glomski, formerly with David Bruce and Caymus wineries in California and by Rob Dunaway, attorney/businessman, voted one of Phoenix’s top 12 business advisors in the New Times 2001 Readers Poll.Rob, also a founding member of OTEF’s board of directors, brought us a special opportunity and now I am sharing it with you.

Your Opportunity

It is the opportunity to support  the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation this holiday season with a gift of wine to yourself, to a loved one, or for a valued business associate. In return, PILLSBURY WINE COMPANY, the hot Arizona Wine Company that critics are raving about, is donating 12% of the wine sales to OTEF.It’s really easy – just email and let her know which and how many of the AWARD WINNING, FOOD ENHANCING RHONE VALLEY STYLE WINES  Pillsbury has to offer you would like to order plus  your contact information so Lindsey can get back to you and “This is for OTEF” to trigger the donation!Bottles signed by Sam Pillsbury can also be arranged.See this really is a great opportunity.  In one fell swoop, you get to help OTEF teach entrepreneurship skills to at risk groups as well as present great programs like AZEC09, plus you get access to wonderful, award winning wines, AND if you have not finished your holiday shopping – here’s your chance. 

The Wines of the Award Winning Pillsbury Wine Company

For your shopping pleasure – here is the list of wonderful Pillsbury wines…Pillsbury 2008 Rosé     $20Provençal style ‘onion skin’ pink with hints of watermelon, red cherry and strawberry on the nose, bright and refreshing in the mouth, with a clean finish. It will pair well with any light fare, especially salads, fresh fruit, and cheese and crackers. 94 Cases made. Alcohol 14%.‘Local Product of the Month’ Phoenix Magazine, August 2009.Pillsbury 2008 Pinot Gris ‘Casa Blanca’    $20We call this ‘Casa Blanca’ because the Pinot Gris made from these high altitude Arizona vines have twice been served at White House State Dinners. It has a nose of freshly chopped apple, followed by ripe peaches and apricots on the palate. It pairs well with salads, seafood or lighter chicken dishes. 230 Cases made. Alcohol 12.5%. Not yet rated.Pillsbury 2006 Roan Red    $24A blend of Grenache and Mourvedre with a small amount of Syrah and Petite Sirah, aged in neutral oak. Bone dry, unfined and unfiltered. Fragrant herbal nose with hints of lavender and honeysuckle. It has spicy ripe red-cherry fruit, with hints of vanilla and tarragon and an autumnal, forest-floor character, with a lovely long finish. Pair with pastas and lighter meat and poultry dishes. Alcohol 13.7%, 329 cases made.93 points. Mark Tarbell, AZ Republic (highest score ever given an AZ wine)Pillsbury 2007 Roan Red  $2493.2% Syrah, 6.8%Grenache. This Roan Red is different than the 2006. Our Syrah vines are an Aussie Shiraz clone we planted in the Arizona High Desert in 2000. This is an intense wine with a spicy nose, cherry/cranberry and dark berry fruit with silky tannins and hints of sweet walnut, cucumber and blood orange. Pair with lamb, pasta or robustly flavored chicken dishes. 186 cases made. Alcohol 14%. Not yet rated.Pillsbury 2007 Diva  $3664.3 % Grenache, 21.4% Petite Sirah, 14.3% Mourvedre. This blend is a Chateuneuf du Pape style blend, and once again made with our ripest fruit and matured for 15 months in neutral American and new French oak. A fragrant wine with suggestions of super-ripe wild strawberry, macadamias, tobacco and bitter-sweet chocolate with ample tannins, making it perfect for steak or barbeque and big rich casseroles. 173 cases made. Alcohol 14.5%.Gold Medal, 2009 Arizona Wine Growers Association Competition. 2006 Diva called Best Wine in AZ by San Francisco Examiner and Wine Spectator gave it 89 points.Pillsbury 2007 Petite Sirah.  $54This monster Petite Sirah was picked late at 28 brix and develops an intense, almost chewy chocolate-like quality and some real fruit complexity. We tend to avoid late-pick reds as the overripe fruit and high alcohol tends to obscure the complexity of the fruit, but Petite Sirah seems to come into its own when made like this. It is bone dry, has hints of intense black berry fruit, roasted cocoa, green apple, sweet blueberry, crème brulée and rose petal with big tannins. 30 cases made. Alcohol 15.4%.

Ya gotta love it!

Glorious wines from Generous People coming together to make life better for others. Like I started off saying – entrepreneurs are some of the most generous people I know.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker


Looking out towards 2010

November 1, 2009

AZ Ent logoHow did it get to be NOVEMBER already!  It seems like just the other day I was writing articles about Embracing Change in 2009 and now, in just two short months, 2009 will be one for the record books. 

It’s still to be written what the final outcome of the health care debates in Congress will be, or how the year will wrap up from an economic perspective, but many will tell you they can’t wait for 2010 to make its arrival.

But there have been some bright spots in this recession that we have all struggled through.  Companies that are making great things happen in the world of social media, women’s health, green materials, and a host of other industries.  That’s why, as I prepare for the exciting things that I know will happen in 2010, I am getting ready today by attending the 4th Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference on November 12th. 

As chairman of the board of OTEF, the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation, November is always a busy time as we prepare for the conference.  Each year’s conference is vitally important since all of the proceeds go to fund OTEF’s efforts to provide entrepreneurial training and support to at-risk populations – giving them a better chance for future financial sustainability.

But, as an entrepreneur, I look forward to the conference for the many great ideas I know I will receive there each year.  This is the only place I know where, in one day, I can gain insights from national thought leaders like Tara Hunt and Michelle Robson (EmpowHer) , connect with fellow CEOs from TiE and EO to learn what’s working for them, and get the latest updates in technology and business trends from CEOs and thought leaders who are on the front lines.

I’m also excited this year that we have friends coming from far and near to share ideas.  Patti Dragland (@StrategicSense) is coming in from Calgary, Tara Hunt (@MissRogue), author of The Whuffie Factor,  from Montreal, Howard Lindzon (founder of StockTwits), Kevin Surace, of Serious Materials, is flying in from Sunnyvale, and my favorite entrepreneurial blogger, Marty Willing (@StartUpPro), will be there not to mention fellow conference team members and great friends like  Francine Hardaway (@Hardaway), Steven Groves (@StevenGroves), Ed Nusbaum (@EdAZ), Merlin Ward (@MerlinWard) and many more!

November 12th is an important day for gathering new ideas, making connections, and to just get that extra dose of inspiration that will come in real handy in 2010.  I know where I will be on November 12th.  How about you?

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Go Forth and Raise Whuffie

October 13, 2009

In less that one month, entrepreneurs from around Arizona and from other parts of North America are gathering for AZEC09, The Fourth Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference which will be held in Tempe Arizona on November 12, 2009.  

AZEC09 continues the Arizona tradition of bringing together thought leaders in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media together for a full day of sharing ideas, making connections, and even launching new companies and products that started with Jump Box in 2006 continues with another great new idea that emerged from last year’s conference and will be debuting this year. 

Each year our lunch keynote is a special treat, someone sharing great ideas that each attendee can take back to the office and put to work in their business the very next day.  Past keynotes have included Michael Gerber author of the best selling E-Myth, Dan Morrison, CEO of IT ToolBox, and Matt Mullenweg founder of Word Press.  This year, at lunch we’ll be hearing from Tara Hunt, author of The Whuffie Factor, as she inspires us to raise a little whuffie. 

What – you don’t know what WHUFFIE is!  We’ll let’s get a sneak preview from Tara as she answers the question …What is Whuffie?

In addition to learning how great companies are putting Whuffie to work in their businesses, AZEC09 is an opportunity to gain insights from Michelle Robson, the founder of EmpowHER, get the latest from Kevin Surace on the strategies that are helping Serious Materials succeed in the eco friendly building materials space, get the latest developments in Healthcare 2.0, hear from panels of local CEOS who generously share their secrets on how they are building great businesses,  and get the scoop from Howard Lindzon on the state of Venture Capital.

But, like everything else in business, you can’t win if you do not show up. 

And since winning is so much fun, we have even decided to liven things up with some great prizes during the day thanks to some of our generous sponsors and partners.

So here’s your chance to win.  Register now for AZEC09 and if you do so before 8AM on October 16th you can even save $50 with the $99 early registration rate. (At 8:01 AM on the 16th tickets go up to $150.)

It’s your chance to Engage, Connect, be Inspired and WIN.

I know where I will be on November 12, 2009.  How about you?

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Chairman, OTEF, The Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation

Host organization of AZEC09 , AZEC08, AZEC07, and AZEC06.

AZEC08 November 12, 2009

P.S. – You might be wondering who those great sponsors are…so here’s the list:  The Business Journal Phoenix and Infusionsoft – who have generously stepped up EVERY year, as well as Mashable, Microsoft, Affordable Image, The Town of Gilbert, Metro Studios, Pour Masters, Gangplank, Stealthmode Partners, CorePurpose, Brent Spore, Chuck Reynolds, The Performance Magazine, and  The Social Media, PLUS our great friends and community partners at The Knight Center for Digital Media, EO, TiE-Arizona, and The Arizona Technology Council, Social Media Club Phoenix, The Phoenix Innovation Foundation, PodCampAZ.

The Best Marketing Strategy Ever

October 10, 2009

AZ Ent logoA business owner asked me the other day, what was the best marketing strategy ever?  I did not have to think very long.  To me, the answer is Southwest Airlines in its early days.   In a day when Southwest was competing with industry giants to launch a new airline, they broke through and succeeded by demonstrating that they were the airline you wanted to fly by doing the following things.

  1. They offered an affordable and valuable service.
  2. They put their employees first and let them know it.  The Employees became their marketing ambassadors on EVERY flight and at every gate.
  3. They empowered their employees to do what ever it took to make the customer experience both safe and enjoyable.  The employees felt good about being part of Southwest and that spirit was contagious.
  4. They got people fired up about the service they were offering and encouraged them to tell a friend.  They mastered the art of the testimonial!

Combining silly slogans by peppy flight attendants with little things like birthday cards or free drink coupons, and ads that made you smile, Southwest integrated the customer experience into every step of what they did and how they marketed.  The rest, as they say, was entrepreneurial history. One friend told another – and they told someone else.  People chose to fly the fledgling airline to see what all the buzz was about.  They liked the experience, kept on flying, and kept on telling their friends.

I’ve been thinking about this – the creating of an experience  – a lot lately for two reasons. 

One is a company that I am hoping to become much more involved with.  They have an offering that will revolutionize their category in a way similar to what Southwest did to the airline industry.  As I look at what would be needed to do just that, I start to get really excited.  (You’ll have to stay tuned to learn more about this project….it’s a developing story.)

AZEC09_Logo-(2)But the other project, is one that I can tell you all about.  It’s the Fourth Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference or AZEC09.  For the last 4 years, I have worked with the team at OTEF (The Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation) to provide entrepreneurial training, support, and inspiration to at risk populations here in Arizona.  Programs have included helping women, who have faced huge challenges, start over and launch a new business.   Teens got a fresh start in their own entrepreneurial venture and now, through Blue Print for Survival, displaced workers are finding a new purpose through their own businesses.  The funding raised each year at AZEC09 makes this possible!

So, how could I apply what I have learned through the  years from studying Southwest make AZEC09 better?

See full size imageValuable and Affordable –  at $99 for early registration and $150 for the regular conference rate, it is probably one of the best full day conference values you can find.  And the learning you can gain is invaluable from both the speakers and the people you meet.

See full size imageOur team is first rate from our sponsors and community partners to our volunteers.  It is important that we make the experience as good for them as possible so that they will make the conference great for our guests.

See full size imageWe need to make sure that all of our team understands, this is not just another conference.  It is an opportunity to make a difference in our businesses AND our community all at the same time.

See full size imageAnd it’s time to get folks fired up and to do something different to make things more fun.  So I asked out great partners at the Phoenix Business Journal for help and they came through with  the perfect gift  to give away at different times throughout the day – I love presents!  Another friend has gotten into the spirit of this and is also helping to bring other surprises.  So now, on top of great speakers, the opportunity to connect with thought leaders, and some of the top exciting entrepreneurs around we have presents to.  How cool is that!

So all I needed was a few testimonials.  I went through the conference file and asked friends for permission to share their words with you.  Here are a few…

“Dollar for dollar the 2008 Arizona Entrepreneur’s Conference was the best money and time spent on any conference.  Period!  I’m expecting even more on Nov 12th 2009!”

   Eric Keosky-Smith  CEO, Co-Founder, Shwaag ™

“… this is the best educational and networking opportunity in the state…. It’s an opportunity to network with and learn from people who have achieved entrepreneurial successes in health care, digital media, sustainability and cloud computing PLUS lots of ideas shared by CEOs on the front lines who are making things work!. ”

   Pat Elliott, Western Marketing Group

See, the thing that makes testimonials from delighted customers the best marketing strategy ever is that what THEY say matters most.

So, I have a favor to ask.  If you have attended one of the last three Arizona Entrepreneurship Conferences, leave me a comment and share your experience. And if you are coming this year, tell me why so we can work on making sure you have the best experience ever!

I’ll be watching for your ideas!

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

P.S. Remember those great Sponsors and  Community Partners I mentioned.  Here is who they are:

The Business Journal Phoenix and Infusionsoft – who have generously stepped up EVERY year, as well as Mashable, Microsoft, Affordable Image, The Town of Gilbert, Metro Studios, Pour Masters, Gangplank, Stealthmode Partners, CorePurpose, Brent Spore, Chuck Reynolds, The Performance Magazine, and  The Social Media, PLUS our great friends and community partners at The Knight Center for Digital Media, EO, TiE-Arizona, and The Arizona Technology Council, Social Media Club Phoenix, The Phoenix Innovation Foundation, PodCampAZ.