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?

RD: 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 www.otef.org.

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