Wednesday, September 23, 2009

FountainBlue's Virtual Worlds Conference

FountainBlue's Virtual Worlds Annual Conference is scheduled for this Friday, September 25, from 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. and will be held at Sun Microsystems in Santa Clara. Founded in January 2006, FountainBlue was established "to foster transformative change for high-tech, life science and clean energy decision-makers one conversation, one leader, one organization at a time". The company produced its first virtual world's event in March of this year and also produces monthly events, provides support to communities, consults, and facilitates connections between people and organizations. FountainBlue was founded by CEO Linda Holroyd who characterizes herself as "a serial entrepreneur", and works avidly with entrepreneurial and leadership organizations. She is also an adviser to clean energy companies in the solar and transportation sectors.

I first came across Ms Holroyd when she'd posted an announcement for the event in one of the several LinkedIn groups I belong to and I contacted her through e-mail. We exchanged several e-mails over the next few weeks and when she'd asked if I would be interested in helping with the event I readily agreed. She'd asked me to work with the submitting entrepreneurs, vetting their submissions and in mentoring them as they prepared for presenting their business plan during the conference. I volunteered to work with one of the submitters, SL resident Tessa Harrington (aka Theresa Kinney-Johnson), developer of the virtual world, SpotON3D™. I'd met with and interviewed Ms Harrington for an article earlier this year. SpotON3D™ was one of the winning submissions and will present their business plan at the conference.

Here's the list of winning submissions that went out via e-mail from FountainBlue:

In the Consumer, Six to Twelve Category: Sherry Gunther, CEO, Masher Media
In the Consumer, Teenagers to Adult Category: Troy Hipolito, CTO and Owner, ISO Interactive
In the Enterprise, Virtual Events and Tradeshows Category: Terry Thorpe, KohdSpace
In the Enterprise, Virtual Meetings Category: Dustin Clingman, Immediate Mode Interactive LLC
In the Enterprise, Other Category (Collaboration in Health Care): Brian Bauer, OnTrack Health
In the Enterprise, Other Category (Virtual Real Estate and Office Tools): Stevan Lieberman, CEO, SpotON3D

I caught up with Linda late last week for a phone conversation and we discussed the upcoming event and FountainBlue.

Nazz: This is FountainBlue's first "annual" conference dealing with virtual worlds, had you sponsored any previous events?

Linda: This is our second virtual world event and it is has been a challenge. We've never done anything to this depth before on virtual worlds with two morning panels. One on "What is it, Where Has it Been?" and the second one is, "Where Will Virtual Worlds Take Us". As part of the conference, we will also feature corporate exhibits on virtual worlds and profile six entrepreneurs, the winners of the business plan competition.

Nazz: That does sound like challenge, did FountainBlue do all of the work?

Linda: We've had twenty volunteers to help with the program, including you. People who've helped organize, recruit panelists and mentor the entrepreneurs. My role has been to lead and support the team.

Nazz: How and when did FountainBlue become interested in virtual worlds?

Linda: It was about a year ago, we'd of course been interested in Web 2.0. We saw virtual worlds as an emerging technology and as a progression from social networking to what gamers are doing. We had our first event in March of this year where we targeted virtual world entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and investors on the "The Hype, The Reality, The In-Between" of virtual worlds. That panel featured leaders from several large technology companies as well as a former Second Life executive. My husband is involved with a virtual world start-up, and through his activities it's exciting to see how the industry is evolving.

Nazz: I see that Sun is hosting the event at one of their facilities, how did you get connected with them?

Linda: Sun hosted our January clean energy event and connected us to right players to help us organize for this event. Sun is very active in virtual worlds.

Nazz: What's next for FountainBlue?

Linda: We're going to continue to produce and run events for Silicon Valley companies and FountainBlue also provides consulting to companies that produce events. I've been writing a series of books on leadership, entrepreneurship and the FountainBlue community is growing.

Nazz: Any other comments?

Linda: Please, when you post this, add a note that registration ends on the 24th at noon, no exceptions walk-ins will be turned away.

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