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October 05, 2010

Bonforte to Entrepreneurs: 'Anywhere Customers Hate - That's Where There's Gold'

By Erin Harrison, Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

Entrepreneurial icon Jeff Bonforte (News - Alert) helped pave the way for five start-up hopefuls at ITEXPO West 2010 on Monday evening, addressing a standing-room only crowd on Monday night where entrepreneurs had the opportunity to give a five-minute pitch to a panel of judges.

Having raised over $35 million as an entrepreneur, Bonforte has been actively involved in the future of communications for years, dating back to his involvement in what became the Gizmo Project, and to his executive roles with Yahoo’s Real-time Communications Group.

Kicking off the 2010 ITEXPO (News - Alert) West event, Bonforte delivered a lively keynote address before a standing-only room crowd at Startup Camp 2, Communications Edition, which was held at the close of Day 1 of ITEXPO West at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Five early stage companies took the stage with raw ideas and enthusiasm that engaged the crowd, and “investors” in the audience were given “money” (similar to that of Monopoly dollars) and at the end of the start-up pitches, were invited to split up their cash to decide which company is most viable and has the greatest chances for success.

Bonforte advised the crowd of entrepreneurs and communications executives that there is money to be found in any area where people are frustrated, such as taxes for example – in other words, if you can find a way to simplify a detested experience, you may just hit the jackpot. (To check out Bonforte’s keynote, click here.)

“Anywhere customers hate – that’s where there’s gold,” Bonforte said.

New companies AdelaVoice, cloud telecomputers, GroupMe, VAL 9000 and Vokle (News - Alert) each had a few minutes to explain their business plans to the audience and a panel. The start-ups were selected from 35 applicants to participate in StartupCamp 2, which was sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent, Skype and twilio. The judges were: Andy Abramson, blogger for VoIPWatch; Bonforte, CEO of Xobni (News - Alert), the event’s keynote speaker; Brett Shockley; vice president of emerging products and technology at Avaya, and the founder and former head of Spanlink; and Scott Wharton, CEO of VidTel.

Bonforte maintains that when it comes to surviving, even thriving, in the communications arena, engineers and product people need each other. “The most important things for this relationship to work are personality fit and mutual respect,” he said.

The official Startup Camp winner will be announced during ITEXPO West, which runs through tomorrow in the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

To learn more about the five Startup Camp business plans, check out Paula Bernier’s (News - Alert) coverage here.

Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TMCnet, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison


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