Monday, February 8, 2010

DesignSight: Volume IV - February 17th!

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DesignSight is an event series developed to help stimulate some important conversations in the design community. Anyone considering making the entrepreneurial leap or those looking to fine tune their business practices should attend. Come ready to discuss your concerns with experts on entrepreneurial topics.

Volume IV Participants:

Derek Chen, Founder and CEO, Council Inc.

What would you ask me?
1. What are some war stories from starting and growing a creative business?
2. Can you point out the challenges and decisions of dealing with Intellectual property from a designer’s perspective?
3. When we talk about furniture and design what would be the main differences and approaches between the US vs. the rest of the world?

Derek Chen is a designer and the founder of Council Inc. With Council, Chen endeavors to build an American brand whose collections make a meaningful contribution to international contemporary design.

Chen’s own work reveals a facility with technology as well as an appreciation for the visual and tactile appeal of natural forms and materials. Chen has been designing and building things since childhood, and has most recently returned to his first love, furniture.

Before founding Council and his own design studio, Chen started Urbana Design, a company named after the city in which he spent much of his childhood. Urbana Design continues to produce sleek tabletop accessories sold in design stores around the country. Chen’s first career was as a management consultant advising clients in Europe, South America, and the United States.

Through Council, Urbana Design, and his studio, Chen’s work has been widely covered in the international design media. Chen has spoken on issues facing the contemporary design market in conjunction with museum exhibits and design trade shows.

Chen holds a degree in Electrical Engineering. He lives and works in San Francisco, California.

Felicia Vallera, J.D., M.B.A., C.P.A., Entrepreneurial Business Attorney

What would you ask me?
1. Please help me understand the practical reality of new business formation, funding, and launch?
2. Buying a business: how do I protect and grow business value after the deal is closed?
3. Sandbox Rules: How do I manage the risks (and reap the benefits) of a multiple owner business?
4. Contractual Relationships: How do I use business contracts to build mutually-beneficial relationships and stay out of court?

Felicia Vallera is owner and principal attorney of The Law Office of Felicia Vallera, an independent law firm that supports the legal needs of entrepreneurs and privately-held businesses. Felicia works side by side with her clients in a manner similar to an outside general counsel, insightfully guiding their business plans and skillfully crafting legal strategies and transactions to help implement their business goals.

Felicia has assisted with the successful launch of more than 100 startups over a diverse range of industries and business models. She has designed and led operational turnaround efforts for troubled businesses ranging from microenterprises to segments of Fortune 100 corporations. As a skilled negotiator, she has successfully closed and implemented business transactions ranging up to $200 million in deal size.

Felicia graduated from Hastings College of the Law in 1998, following an 18 year career in corporate finance and technology management. She successfully launched her current firm in 2001, following a legal internship with the SEC and almost three years as an associate in a large law firm. She was 2005 President of the San Francisco Barristers Club, 2007 President of Queen’s Bench, and currently chairs the Business Law Section of the Bar Association of San

Michael Hoch, President, RampRate Sourcing Advisors

What would you ask me?
1. How would I overcome transition challenges from 3-man shop to a real company?
2. How to write high-value proposals that close FAST!
3. How can I sell consulting for cash flow and product seeding AND avoiding the day-rate pricing trap?

Michael Hoch is the President at RampRate, and oversees the company’s primary research activities, SPY Index™ development and operations, and IT outsourcing analysis for RampRate clients. His mission at RampRate is to provide all clients with substantiated, field-based research and analysis for strategic and tactical business planning decisions.

Michael joined RampRate after more than five years as a research director and industry analyst at Aberdeen Group, an IT market research firm. At Aberdeen, Michael advised Global 2000 enterprises and the world’s top technology IT Suppliers on the business value, market dynamics, competitive landscape, and go-to-market strategies of Internet technologies. His research practice, “Content Delivery and Application Distribution,” covered the delivery elements of Web services, network infrastructure, data center optimization, streaming and digital media, and delivery and distribution technologies (caches, routers, load balancers, server off-load engines).

At Aberdeen, Michael published dozens of market defining reports and white papers. He also contributed leading articles to major trade publications, such as the 6-part “Business of Streaming” column to Streaming Media Magazine, “Delivering on Digital Data’s Promise” for Finance Director Europe, and “Real Numbers for a Real Market” in The Streaming Media Industry Sourcebook 2004. In addition, Michael has been quoted widely in worldwide journals and newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Boston Globe, Boston Business Journal,, and Network World.

Michael is co-author the book, The Business of Streaming and Digital Media, published by Focal Press.

Prior to Aberdeen, Michael worked in the Executive Director’s office at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs as a program director raising sponsorship and organizing research symposia on such diverse topics as “Feeding China in the 21st Century” and “The Future Relevance of NATO.” Michael earned a master’s degree in business administration from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston University.

Karen Waksman, President, Product for Profit
Karen's Podcast

What would you ask me?
1) Can anyone really sell their products to Major Retailers without any sales experience or existing buyer relationships?
2) What is the #1 Mistake most people make when trying to sell their products to Major Retailers?
3) What is the difference beween manufacturing and licensing my product? And which is the best option for me?
4) Does my product have to be ready to go in it’s packaging before I approach buyers?

Karen Waksman is a successful Manufacturers Representative, Consultant, Speaker and Author with more than a decade of experience selling products to Major Chain Store Retailers. She is President of Product For Profit (, a company dedicated to empowering Entrepreneurs interested in making money off of their product ideas and inventions. Over the years, Karen has sold a variety of different products in categories such as Consumer Electronics, Fashion Accessories, Costume Jewelry, Toys and Gift Items to just about every Major Retailer.

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DesignSight Partners

Our partners offer free business information, classes, seminars and one-on-one consulting.
Please take a look at their great services.Please take a look at the schedule of free business lectures at the SBA.


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