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Tiffany Montgomery
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New opportunities to score business help

By Tiffany Montgomery
February 11, 2008 5:31 AM

Two items arrived in my inbox lately that I think are of interest to some of you out there, especially the emerging brands.

Two groups are offering business advice to help take companies to the next level.

One is a new San Diego-based organization Action & Sport Innovators (ASI), which is offering free mentoring to entrepreneurs to help them tap into financing and connect with other resources. ASI is having its inaugural networking event this Tuesday night in San Diego. Details about ASI and the event are below.

Also, the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association has started a Business Boot Camp series. These seminars will focus on different topics, including creating a strategic distribution plan and supply chain management. The first seminar is an all-day affair on Feb. 28 in Laguna Beach. Details are below.

Action & Sport Innovators

I asked ASI Chairman and Founder Marco Thompson questions about the group. ASI is associated with Connect, a business incubator in San Diego. Since 1985, CONNECT has assisted in the formation and development of over 1,200 companies by linking inventors and entrepreneurs with the resources they need for success.

When was ASI started?

ASI was started during an intimate VIP dinner on December 19th, 2007. We had 24 CEOs, founders and innovators from the industry in attendance. The real launch of ASI is the Xtreme Networking event at the Hall of Champions this coming Tuesday night (Feb. 12). ASI is being incubated inside of Connect.

Why was ASI started?

The key reason for the existence of ASI is to help the industry grow. That includes everyone from the startups to the giants, and pervades all of Southern California, and all of the outdoor industries, from action sports, to sporting goods, to active lifestyle apparel.

ASI is all about the sustainable elements of the industry, namely entrepreneurism and innovation. Nobody expects factories to stay in Southern California though company maturity, but what this region does better than any other region on the planet is innovation. If I had to guess, 70-90 percent of the planet's innovation, marketing, and design in the action sports, golf, and active lifestyle apparel industries happens here. ASI will help the innovators get started, get financed, grow, get mentoring and have success.

What is the cost?

We expect the entrepreneurs to work hard on their business plans, on their presentation pitches, and to take mentoring and guidance from the EIRs (Entrepreneurs in Residence). It takes a commitment of time and energy, and the successful entrepreneurs are the ones who invest heavily in the process. Oh, the financial cost? The "Springboard" program which embodies the mentoring and financing assistance is free to the entrepreneurs.

Who is funding the organization?

ASI is being incubated inside of Connect, which is a $2-million per year nonprofit dedicated to serving innovative entrepreneurs with Springboard and 20 other programs. For the last 25 years, Connect has provided this assistance to the technology and life sciences industry.

ASI is an effort to bring those same services to the entrepreneurs in the action and sport industry. In that 25 year history, connect has graduated roughly 500 companies from the Springboard program, more than half of those companies are still in business, and several of them are billion dollar businesses. Connect is seen as the world's best model of entrepreneurial assistance, and people travel here from 20-30 countries every year to witness the Connect process, and learn from our success.

The ASI program is also supported by some very involved members and sponsors, including our lead sponsor, Sheppard Mullin. This law firm has served many of the giants of the industry from the time that they started, and they have built a reputation as specialists in action sports and sporting goods. At this time we also have participating sponsorships from KPMG (accounting) and Cushman & Wakefield (real estate).

What activities are the group involved in?

On the networking side, the group has already managed five private VIP breakfasts, and one dinner. We had a booth at ASR, and I spoke on an ASR panel regarding "How to raise money for your Action Sports company." Tuesday is our "big bang" coming out party. After Tuesday, we will be focused on several fronts. Finding the entrepreneurs who need Springboard and getting them involved. Organizing Domain Interest Groups such as a CFO roundtable, for finance people in the industry to share their lessons learned and contacts. Organizing a CEO Strategy Forum so that CEO's can network, learn from each other, and hear presentations from industry luminaries. ... The list goes on and on.

Event details:

The X-treme Networking event will be held on Feb. 12 at the Balboa Hall of Champions from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tickets for the event are $25, with a percentage of the proceeds to benefit the Tony Hawk Foundation of Vista, Calif. More information about attending the X-treme Networking event and becoming an ASI member is available at www.actionandsportinnovators.com.

SIMA Business Bootcamp

Here are details about SIMA's new education opportunities.

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (January 15, 2008) - What Surf Summit is to Cabo, SIMA Business Boot Camp is to Orange County. On Thursday, February 28, 2008, SIMA is debuting its new recruit in educational programming - SIMA Business Boot Camp.


February's event, located at Seven Degrees in Laguna Beach, California from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., is the first in a series of seminars to be held regularly throughout the year. The goal of the Business Boot Camps is to allow SIMA members to benefit from intimate seminars on an ongoing basis that aim to provide valuable tips and tools to help their company improve a variety of daily business operations.

This first SIMA Business Boot Camp session will be an all-day event featuring three educational tracks: Track A: Sales and Marketing, Track B: Operations, and Track C: Sourcing and Production. The next sessions to follow in the coming year will be shortened to focus on just a single topic and will be held in various locations throughout Southern California. Future seminar topics will change from Boot Camp to Boot Camp with the goal of reaching a variety of employees and departments within SIMA member companies.


"We are excited to be offering new educational platforms on an ongoing basis to continue building SIMA membership benefits," said Dick Baker, president of SIMA. "Business Boot Camp is a great way to supply our members with specific tips to enhance their business perspective and capabilities in the surf industry while additionally allowing time to network."


The topics featured in each track for February's Boot Camp are:


Track A: Sales & Marketing - Branding and Beyond, Merchandising and Planning a Line, Athlete Sponsorship 101, Creating a Strategic Distribution Plan


Track B: Operations - Trademark and Copyright 101, Gray Market Goods: Protecting Your Channels of Distribution in a Global Market, Warehouse Management and Workplace Security, Human Resources for the Surf Industry Professional, Today's Business Insurance, Finance and Factoring


Track C: Sourcing & Production - Supply Chain Management, International Sourcing and Customs


The cost of the event for SIMA members is $75 per person, or sign up five or more individuals at once for $60 per person. Non-SIMA members cost is $250 per person by invitation only. For more information, please contact Shannon Park, SIMA Event Coordinator at Shannon@sima.com or 949.366.1164 x2.

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