STEM Education: Delicious Results

Young Mason Partak, with help from his Mom, Kathy, are using technology in the form of GoFundMe to outfit the kitchen of his elementary school so that kids can learn to cook and students can have hot meals  to  fuel their brains and bodies.  What a great example of STEM education in action. Continue reading

A Man of Many Hats – Rob Dunaway

People you will meet at AZEC10

The Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference, AZEC10, is one of the premiere events for entrepreneurs in the Southwest. On November 17th, at the Desert Willow Conference Center will bring together national thought leaders, local CEOs, and entrepreneurs to share ideas, connect, and engage. 

Did you know that AZEC is more than just a conference? It is the primary funding source for OTEF, the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation, an organization that provides entrepreneurial education, mentoring and support to members of our community that are at-risk?  OTEF was founded in 2005 when three friends, Francine Hardaway, Ed Nusbaum, and Rob Dunaway. 

OTEF Co-founder Rob Dunaway

Based upon his books and years of experience in advising Silicon Valley and Phoenix companies,Rob is recognized as a leading corporate, technology and venture capital attorney  with clients spanning the full range of products and services.  He has worked for some of the most successful public companies in the technology industry, including Sun Microsystems, Tandem Computers, S3, NexGen Microsystems, Diamond Multimedia Systems and others. Today Rob’s clients include technology companies, health care products companies,medical software companies, real estate development companies, and investment companies.He has also gained recognition for his work with startup companies, and his experience and counsel was captured in the book Silicon Valley Guide from Microsoft Press, co-authored with Dan Remer. Their second book together, Legal Care For Your Software from Sybex Publishing, was a best-selling reference guide to intellectual property law for engineers and executives in the high technology industry. His expertise covers general corporate, contract and intellectual property law, with emphasis on technology licensing and other technology-related contracts such as OEM, distribution and development agreements; venture capital and other private financings; mergers and acquisitions; protection of intellectual property; and Internet law.

But “lawyer” is just one of Rob’s hats.  He has been an entrepreneur and advisor, a  member of the board of  directors for several companies and a turnaround CEO where he and his team revitalized a food products company, increased sales and successfully sold the company at a premium to an international investment group. He has co-founded three non-profits in the educational field and currently sits on their board of directors, and also sits on the board of directors of a social media company and a corporate jet pilot training company.

I had a chance to chat with Rob about Phoenix, OTEF, and AZEC.  Here is what he had to share…

JKW:  What brought you to Phoenix and ultimately to help create OTEF?

Rob DunawayRD: I was trained in Silicon Valley as a venture capital attorney, worked for many of the famous startups there, and wrote a few books on startup company management and technology law. I was totally immersed in working with entrepreneurs and young companies and brought that entrepreneurial mentality to Phoenix when I moved my family here for quality of life. My role continues to be legal counsel and strategic board level advisor to my clients. I have also started non-profits and companies here in Phoenix, so I have bring an active entrepreneur side to the eco-system as well. I moved to Phoenix in 1994 and commuted to Silicon Valley until 1996, when I opened my legal practice here.  Francine Hardaway and Ed Nusbaum were early friends and we shared a vision of a vibrant, entrepreneurial community here in Phoenix. Together we founded OTEF and I continue to serve on the board of directors.

JKW:  As a leader – did you ever get stuck?  What was your “reset” ?

RD:  Stuck is inevitable; bumps in the road are inevitable. If it was easy, everyone could do it successfully. With the right entrepreneurial mind set, any problem can be resolved successfully. Sometimes, however, the entrepreneur just doesn’t recognize the best solution as the most successful. When I get stuck, I simply put the issue down for a day or two and then revisit with a fresh outlook. Inevitably, that produces a new perspective and often a new set of potential solutions and I am off and running again.  

JKW:  What do you plan to achieve between AZEC10 and AZEC11?

RD:  I  have major projects in the works right now. In the non-profit world, I am leading an effort to start a new, major university here in Phoenix as well as continuing to be on the board of OTEF, the owner and sponsor of AZEC. In the private sector, my law practice continues and I have two companies I have started and one book I am writing. Interns, anyone? 

JKW: Why do you choose to support OTEF and AZEC10?  Why will you be there?

RD:  The entrepreneurial classes given to at-risk populations by OTEF funded by the proceeds of AZEC10 are very important to me. AZEC10 will be another terrific conference with great speakers imparting important advice for entrepreneurs. It is simply the best cutting edge, entrepreneurial conference in the West.

Look for Rob at AZEC10

Rob Dunaway is another of the great community leaders and thought leaders you can meet at AZEC10 on November 17, 2010.   Ask him a question – he is always happy to answer mine.  Don’t forget to register for your seat at the table if you have not all ready.  It is sure to be a sell-out crowd again this year. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…there will be more AZEC10 behind the scenes glimpses between now and November 17th.  Use discount code PhxBiz to save 10% on your Attendee ticket.

Joan Koerber-Walker

Note:  Joan Koerber Walker serves as Chairman of the Board of The Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship foundation,which is the host organization and sole beneficiary of AZEC10.  To learn more about OTEF, visit

Planning, Preparing, and Presto

iStockphoto,teamwork,crossword,marker,highlight,innovation,success,evaluation,development,growth,solution,progress,marketing,plans,business,occupation,concepts,transparent board,writing,academic,arm,peopleWe’ve all heard the stories.  He/She/It was an overnight success.  Yet if you spend time one-on-one with these overnight successes, you  are bound to hear the same thing.  Before the success came months (and often years) of planning and preparation before Presto…Success!  There is no such thing as an overnight success, there is simply a point in time when others may suddenly wake up and see that you are there. 

This Wednesday, November 17, 2010, at AZEC10  an incredible line up of speakers will be sharing their  stories, tips, and secrets with entrepreneurs from across Arizona and across North America.  They are business owners, VC’s and Angels, nationally known experts and innovators.  They are people just like you and me that can tell you that success is a journey, not a destination. 

Like in the picture at right, you start at the bottom and work your way up.  You tell your story, get a little progress, start building solutions and start to grow.  To keep the growth going, it takes a commitment to ongoing development, plus evaluation of what works – and what doesn’t.  This leads to a degree of success which as others recognize the value and accept it as  their own  graduates to true innovation. 

At the center of it all is teamwork.  These “overnight successes” will be the first to tell you, “No one succeeds alone.”  In every case, we met someone, learned a lesson, found a partner, or were buoyed up by the enthusiasm of customers or investors. 

AZEC from the Stealthmode Flickr ArchivesBefore the “Presto” there is always planning and preparing.  AZE10 is a great example.  OTEF and a team of dedicated volunteers have worked for a year to bring together the best collection of speakers to inspire others to Hit the Reset and get things growing again.  Behind the  scenes, team members have been working logistics, driving marketing campaigns, recruiting sponsors, and spreading the word.  Each step in the process from planning to preparing and getting ready for the big “Presto” took hours of time that they donated so that others could benefit from the shared experience of connecting, engaging, and sharing  ideas that will lead to new growth in our community and our economy.

But to benefit from all of this – there is another “P”  that comes into play.  You have to be PRESENT to win in the Great Reset.  Already hundreds of business owners have said “count me in”  and joined their fellow entrepreneurs and business owners at the Arizona Entrepreneurship Conferences over the last five years.  Wednesday, November 17, 2010, is your opportunity to begin the journey to your overnight success.  Are you ready?

I’ll be looking for you at AZEC10.

… If you have not registered for AZEC10 yet, use discount code PhxBiz and save 10% off the ATTENDEE ticket price.


Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Note:  Joan Koerber Walker as Chairman of the Board of The Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship foundation,which is the host organization and sole beneficiary of AZEC10.  To learn more about OTEF, visit