University of Southern California

Entrepreneurial Mindset and Spirit
Keynote Warren Bennis and Greif Center Honoree Chris Cabrera Draw Hundreds to 2011 Networking Day
August 5, 2011 • by News at Marshall

On a Saturday morning this spring, entrepreneurs including Lloyd Greif Center alumni, entrepreneurship students, community members and entrepreneurs-in-training from William Crookston's College Bound high school class convened at Town and Gown for the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies' annual networking day.

The stories poured out during the traditional pitch session. Some were about first successes: OrderingApps, a company started by Paul Loeb '09 and Richard Doyle '09 that builds food ordering applications for mobile phones and tablets, reported signing its first restaurant chain.

Others announced the type of milestones that come with determination. Brent Freeman '08 refined a previous business concept to launch a socially-conscious shopping deal network, Roozt.com, that in a mere four months grew to 60,000 members without any formal advertising nor marketing.

While the event was a celebration of entrepreneurial spirit, the reality and challenges of being an entrepreneur were not lost on the enthusiastic crowd that applauded for the two continuous lines of entrepreneurs who lined up to pitch their businesses and find suitable partners.

One Trojan entrepreneur in the audience said, "Fight On is A Credo" and one we have to live by. You don't 'fight on' when you are up, you fight on when you are down."

About being an entrepreneur, "We go up, we go down, that's what we do," added Shawn Sedlacek, '93 and president of Vox Entertainment.

Keynote speaker Warren Bennis, a pioneer in leadership studies and a kindred spirit for entrepreneurs who are breaking new ground, offered insights about the qualities possessed by leaders.

Bennis discussed what political, business and cultural leaders have in common.
When asked about the importance of luck in success, he said "The feeling of being lucky is important." From his years of advising presidents and the world's most recognized chief executives, Bennis identified leadership qualities that would be most relevant to entrepreneurs. Leaders, Bennis says, should:

  • Know their people
  • Create a team
  • Be respectful

Christopher William Cabrera, founder, president and CEO of Xactly Corporation and the day's honoree as the Greif Center Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year, explained that the founding of his sales performance management software company, Xactly Corporation, was shaped by his previous experience at an on-premise incentive compensation management software company. While that market for technology that could manage the compensation process and motivate employees through incentives was undeniable – the cost and complexity of available offerings put the technology out of reach for most companies. Cabrera spoke about how he took a risk starting his software company in a down market and with a then relatively unknown software delivery model, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Today, SaaS and Cloud Computing are leading an IT revolution and Xactly is well positioned as the leading provider of SaaS based solutions for sales compensation and sales performance management. The company employs approximately 175 people worldwide and boasts emerging companies and market leaders, including Ariba, Best Buy, Cablevision, E-bay, salesforce.com and Rimini Street as customers. The company has raised nearly $70 million in venture capital – including an investment by salesforce.com, a company founded by Greif Center alumnus and USC Trustee Marc Benioff.

Cabrera's mentorship by Benioff is exactly the kind of relationship the Greif Center is looking to effect, according to Lloyd Greif Center Director Gene Miller. "These networking events are a core part of what we do. “By convening entrepreneurs and those who support entrepreneurs regularly, we help make connections that expand the potential of the businesses founded by our students, alumni as well as the larger SoCal community,” Miller said.


About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.