Thursday, February 14, 2008

Small Business Summit Recap

It was the bright orange suede vest that first caught my eye, among a sea of entrepreneurs in corporate attire at the recent Small Business Summit in New York. Then came the bright blue striped bell bottomed pants. Who was the funky mama among all the "suits"? When I finally saw her face I felt a tinge of recognition. It was Laurel Touby - one of my role models, a huge inspiration to me, the type of fempreneur that I aspire to be (for more on Laurel see my post: "Mediabistro: Timeline to Success"). She looked like a hippie bohemian artist that somehow got lost on her way to Soho or the West Village and mistakenly landed instead at a conference for entrepreneurs.

There was no question - I had to go up to her and say "hi". Any shyness that I might have felt went completely out the window as I stretched out my hand and introduced myself. She was very friendly and approachable, listening as I told her about my blog, among expressive gushes of admiration. The petite blond multi-millionaire later spoke at one of the panel presentations (she's the one that stands out with the funky, boho-chic outfit above on the right) about her company's rise to success and gave a few insights as to how she made her business grow.

"Listen to your clients", was one of the first things Laurel said, which was made easier for her since she started out by giving cocktail parties for journalists. Every month she had a steady stream of followers that were very willing to tell her what they needed. They were the ones she listened to when she received her first infusion of venture capital money and was deciding how to spend it. And it worked - she sold her company for a cool $23 mil last year. That's one piece of advice I definitely will follow.

Among the familiar faces I bumped into at the show were Laura Allen from 15secondpitch who participated at one of the panels, Lena West, who writes the TechForward blog I mentioned on my last post, Stephanie Cockerl who does wonderful things to optimize blogs (, Kevin Kennedy of Webgrrls and of Ulas Neftci of Baruch's Small Business Development Center. All in all it was a fabulous day of schmoozing, networking, meeting fantastic people and picking up a few new best practices. I was even able to get a picture with my idol!

Update: Nelly Yusupova of Webgrrls wrote a great summary of the panel entitled: “How to transform your business in 40 minutes”. Visit her blog to get all the details.

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