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Start Me Up! Sacramento region entrepreneurs gather to gain traction

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There’s a lot going on around town for Sacramento entrepreneurs this month and next — especially those with a technology focus. It seems like every time I turn around (or check my twitter feed), I hear about another cool gathering or seminar for those who are leading the technology revolution here in the Capital City corridor. Well, maybe it isn’t exactly a revolution just yet, but the troops are starting to rally and you can be a part of it!

Why should a busy (and broke!) entrepreneur make time for rubbing shoulders with other entrepreneurs and investors?  Can it really impact your success? Geoff Sakala, organizer at UpStart Sacramento, a newly formed group focused on fostering a richer startup ecosystem in Sacramento, says entrepreneurs don’t have to go it alone. There are people and resources available to help. He recommends looking for a networking event appropriate to your interest — then meet others, form teams and build the next great startup. Geoff adds, "Today it’s even easier to raise funds, find talent and build a product or provide a service part-time. With all the events and tools available for entrepreneurs today I’m really looking forward to watching all the great ideas develop into businesses."

SacStarts, founded in 2006 by entrepreneur and technologist Adam Kalsey, is a Sacramento group working to build and strengthen relationships among local entrepreneurs, technologists, and early stage companies. Co-organizer Brett Owens, a veteran entrepreneur himself, says, "Life as an entrepreneur, contrary to the glamour portrayed by the media, is actually quite lonely. There is no playbook for what you’re trying to do — the business is not yet there — that’s why you’re starting it!" He finds it very helpful to connect and chat with fellow entrepreneurs who may have faced a problem he is trying to solve. As CEO and founder of Chrometa, a successful Sacramento startup, Brett knows what he’s talking about. A plus to networking? Brett adds, "It’s very fun and energizing to talk with entrepreneurs like yourself!"

SARTA, the Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance, has been a champion of entrepreneurship and innovation since 2001. SARTA organizes events for startups and the investment community, and offers additional programs like VentureStart, which is focused on launching startups in our region. And I just so happen to be a part of this organization! In May, SARTA launched it’s newest monthly meetup, "Beer and Geeks" for the region’s techies as well as those who want to hang out with techies. "It’s really important that there are lots of ways to ‘create community’ in the entrepreneurial and tech community," says Meg Arnold, CEO at SARTA. "Entrepreneurs learn a lot from each other as well as from those who have been-there-done-that. And the entrepreneurial community itself becomes more visible, better known, even more energized. The level of energy and activity around Sacramento lately is unprecedented in the last decade — and the events in the next month are just the tip of the iceberg,"

So what are you waiting for? Check out these must-attend events for Sacramento trailblazers:

Friday, Aug. 10: Startup Happy Hour, hosted by SacStarts, at The Pour House, 4-6 p.m.
Say it with your eyes closed: Entrepreneurs, meet at the Pour House. Here’s hoping that your venture doesn’t literally send you to the poor house!  In addition to meeting up with other entrepreneurs, this Friday’s Startup Happy Hour coincides with the Grand Opening of Midtown’s newest hot spot–the Pour House.  And talk about innovation — there’s a pay-as-you-go beer tap at some of the booths in the bar! SacStarts  has monthly happy hours as well as weekly "OpenCoffees" — casual co-working at local coffee shops.    More information here.

Wednesday, Aug. 15: SARTA Seminar “Understanding Capital Structures & Equity Compensation,” at Drexel University, 8:45-11:30 a.m.
Don’t let the stodgy title distract you — this is critical information for entrepreneurs looking to attract venture capital and/or thinking about offering stock options to employees as part of their compensation. Presented by a tag team of a business lawyer and an investor, you’ll learn how to structure an investor friendly cap table from Day One. And if you don’t know what a cap table is, you’ll learn that too! And like all SARTA events, there will be plenty of time to meet and network with other entrepreneurs as well as advisors. More information here.

Monday, Aug. 20: The Liquidity Event, hosted by Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Sac Metro Chamber, at Crocker Art Museum,  at 5 p.m.
They had me at "come dressed in your favorite Hawaiian shirt!" This event focuses on liquid assets — the kind you drink as well as the kind you make when your company has a successful liquidity event!  Emceed by Mayor Kevin Johnson, this celebration will highlight three local companies that have recently achieved their own liquidity events: Travidia, KlickNation, and Superior Vision Holdings. You’ll be inspired as you hear their stories, from startup to sale, from each company’s founder and/or CEO: Rand Hutchison, Mark Otero and Rick Corbett. More information here.

Monday, Aug. 20: Davis StartUps Meetup, at Mishka’s Café, at 5:30 p.m.
You don’t have to be from Davis to attend this monthly meetup (but you will have to travel to Davis). If you are planning to go to The Liquidity Event instead, no worries — you can connect with Davis StartUps next month. This monthly meetup organizes around this bit of sage advice from Bob Parsons, founder of the Go Daddy group of companies, “when u r ready to quit u r closer than u think."  More information here.

Thursday, Aug. 23: Beer and Geeks Meetup, Downtown Sacramento, at 6 p.m.
This casual monthly mixer is designed to help techies around the region connect. Show up, grab a drink, unwind and engage. Beer and Geeks is brought to you by SARTA, Sacramento Press, Hacker Lab and Game Developer Meetup. More information here.

Saturday, Aug. 25: Mini Hackathon, at Hacker Lab, 1-9 p.m.
Wondering what all the buzz was about around the Cereal Hackathon earlier this summer? Feeling left out of the movement to disrupt technology? Check out the Mini-Hack; it’s designed to help people get familiar with the idea of a hackathon. And it’s rumored that there will be another major Hackathon in Sacramento later this year! More information here.

Friday, Aug. 31: TEDx Sacramento 2012, at Crocker Art Museum, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Ok — so this one isn’t just for entrepreneurs. But it’s about "ideas worth spreading" right here in Sacramento!  If you are an entrepreneur, TED talks fuel and inspire you. So you should go. Period. And if you don’t know what TED talks are all about yet, you should go. Period. More information here.

Wednesday, Sept. 12: Venture Out, hosted by UpStart Sacramento, at the Historic Tower Theater, 6-10 p.m.
This night of thought provoking startup networking also features a private screening of two startup focused films: “Something Ventured,” a documentary about the start of venture capital in the Silicon Valley, and “Steve Jobs – The Lost Interview,” a documentary about the ideas and ambitions of the legendary founder of Apple. More information here.

Wednesday, Sept. 19: Business Plan for Your Body & Success Stories of the Year, hosted by DCA Partners, at Sac State Alumni Center, 2-6 p.m.
A very cool event; first up is Jim Karas, a lifestyle expert who combines a degree from the Wharton School of Business with twenty-five plus years of success in helping people look and feel their very best. He applies business sense to having a healthier body; who doesn’t need help with that? Then, entrepreneurs like stories, right? We learn from both tales of success and of failure. And if the story is about both, all the better! After Jim pumps us up about fit bodies, four of the region’s most successful companies will share their stories of how they faced adversity and powered through it to make their companies strong and "fit" again.  More information here.

Do you know about other gatherings that might be of interest to Sacramento’s growing legion of innovators and entrepreneurs?  I want to hear about them! Please share them in the comments or tweet me! @goodlaura

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