Catching the ‘next big thing’ focus of Sebo conference

BOWLING GREEN, O.—In the world of entrepreneurship, timeliness is everything. Accordingly, the theme of Bowling Green State University’s upcoming seventh annual Sebo Series in Entrepreneurship event is “Trends: Capitalizing on the Next Big Thing.” The event begins at 8:30 a.m. Friday (April 23) in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union.

The day of presentations and conversations will include talks by two business people at the top of their fields: Ed Kruszynski, a leading retail innovator at Procter and Gamble who has recently overseen the development of its “Future Friendly” green products line, and Jeremy Gutsche, a “trend hunter” and author of “Exploiting Chaos: 150 Ways to Spark Innovation during Times of Change.”

Kruszynski will give the morning keynote address, at 9:30 a.m., on retail innovation, exploring how to recognize and foster innovation at large companies. At Procter and Gamble, he oversees a team that works “end to end,” delivering new items, product concepts and marketing innovations all the way from the idea stage to the in-store shopping environment.

A former business director for Capital One, Gutsche will share techniques to stimulate creativity and uncover trends in an atmosphere teeming with technology, communication and social change, and to capitalize on those trends through partnerships and other outlets. His talk on “Exploiting Chaos to Spark Innovation” will begin at 12:45 p.m.

Two additional industry leaders, software engineer Jonathan Kennell and Susan Leger-Ferraro, of Little Sprouts Inc., will participate in discussions at 10:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. The first is a presentation format, while the afternoon session will be a panel discussion that will include Kruszynski and the 2010 inductees into the Dallas Hamilton Hall of Fame.

In the morning presentation, Kennell, of New York-based Yext, the Internet’s leading local business directory, will discuss the innovation processes in an industry where the shelf life of trends and breakthroughs is measured in months, not years. Before moving to Yext, Kennell was with Google, and will offer a comparison of innovation techniques in large and smaller companies. 

Leger-Ferraro is the founder and president of several educational businesses and a member of the Leadership and Literacy Foundation. She will discuss the process of creating and capitalizing on trends in the service industry, where trends can be very quickly introduced as well as adopted by competitors. She will also discuss the importance of social awareness as social trends and agenda affect commercial enterprises.

J. Robert Sebo, chair of the BGSU Board of Trustees, is the principal sponsor of the annual conference, which is hosted by the College of Business Administration and the Dallas-Hamilton Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. The center was established in 2004 with a $3 million gift from BGSU graduates Bill Dallas, CEO of Fox Sports Grill, and Olympic gold-medal figure skater Scott Hamilton.

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(Posted April 21, 2010 )