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Competitions, top talent, meetups and tours: fall events rock the Buckeye State

Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of   1-800-GOT-JUNK will be one of six speakers at the 2013 Small B
Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK will be one of six speakers at the 2013 Small B
In 1989, Brian Scudamore bought a pickup truck for $700. It turned out to be one of the best investments he ever made.
 
He used that pickup to start his one-man junk removal business, which he built into the 1-800-GOT-JUNK empire with 325 locations and 1,000 trucks. Scudamore will be one of six speakers at the 2013 Small Business Convention, Oct. 24 and 25 in Sandusky, which is just one of several events being held this fall across the state that aim to help Ohioans grow their businesses.
 
Randy Carpenter, the senior director of corporate communications and public relations for event sponsor Council of Small Enterprises (COSE), says Scudamore embodies the sort of speaker the convention likes to feature.
 
"We usually try to bring in people who have taken an idea and built it into a national company," Carpenter says. "We don't have professors or academia talking about how to run a business. (The speakers) have been in the shoes of the small business owner who knows there's not a paycheck at the end of the week unless they get it done Monday through Friday."
 
The conference, which will be held at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Sandusky, will cost $99 for COSE members and $249 for nonmembers.
 
Other keynote speakers include Valorie Burton, founder of the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute; Anat Baron, director of Beer Wars and former head of Mike's Hard Lemonade; Chip Bell, founder of the Chip Bell Group; and CEO of Detroit Venture Partners, Josh Linkner.
 
Carpenter expects anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 attendees at the eighth annual event, which was previously held at the I-X Center in Cleveland.
 
"In the past we had people just stopping by the I-X Center for an hour or two, but now we're urging people to step away from their business and really enjoy the convention," Carpenter says. "We had a little bit of work to do because people around here think of Kalahari as a water park. They thought we were asking them to bring their bathing suit and go down the water slide, but Kalahari's center for conventions is top notch."
 
One of the highlights will be the third annual Business Pitch Competition. Four finalists will make a sales pitch to a panel of experts and more than 200 members of the small business community on the day before the conference begins. The first-place finisher receives $20,000 to get his business started. The runner-up pockets $10,000 and the third and fourth place finishers both take home $5,000.
 
Approximately 50 breakout sessions will focus on topics such as marketing, handling various legal issues and building a website. An exhibition hall with more than 80 venders will offer a gamut of items targeted to small business owners.
 
After the speakers and the seminars, attendees are encouraged to attend signature dinners and informal activities such as "a Taste of Italy," the "Useless Trivia Challenge" and beer and scotch tastings.
 
"(The activities are) a way of informally connecting people," Carpenter says. "Some of the best stuff you take away from conferences happens after hours when you are sitting around and talking with others. We've built in plenty of those kinds of activities."
 
Where else but Cincinnati?
 
Starting a new business doesn't necessarily mean moving to California's Silicon Valley--and organizers of the Everywhere Else Cincinnati conference Sept. 29 through Oct. 1 at the Duke Energy Center aim to make that point by encouraging businesses to bloom where they are planted.
 
"It's not that we have anything against the Valley, but for the majority of businesses, I'd say it makes more sense not to be in the Valley," says Nick Tippmann, the C.E.O. and co-founder of Nibletz Media, which is sponsoring the event. "It's better to start where you are. You are going to have people around you who care. Your employee costs are going to be less. The cost of living is going to be less."
 
Cincinnati is the second city to host an Everywhere Else Conference. The first was held in Memphis in February. Tippmann hoped for 500 attendees, but after it was listed as one of Forbes Magazine's "Must-Attend 2013 Conferences for Entrepreneurs," the Memphis conference pulled in more than 1,280 attendees and 76 startups from 36 states and seven countries. Organizers had to move the event to a larger facility to accommodate the crowd.
 
"It was just supposed to be a one-off conference in Memphis but the event went so well that we decided, 'Hey why don't we have these events in different cities around the United States?'" Tippmann says. "We don't want to do so much that it waters down the brand, but we believe there is enough demand for it."
 
More than 1,000 people have signed up for the Cincinnati event with more than 70 percent of the attendees coming from out of state. Depending on the package, cost to attend range from $139 to $749.
 
Everywhere Else Cincinnati will feature more than 20 speakers including Andrew Warner, the founder of Mixergy. More than 60 startups will demonstrate their products in "Startup Village." And motivated entrepreneurs will vie in a pitch competition judged by top venture capitalists and directors of angel funds. After-hour parties and VIP events for attendees to connect with other entrepreneurs will round out the offerings.
 
Tippmann says the conference's three-fold purpose is to educate, connect and inspire entrepreneurs.
 
"We're bringing in nationally recognized speakers for the startups to learn from," Tippmann says. "They're teaching lessons through their stories and experiences."
 
"Securing America's Energy Future"
 
In 37 years, the Fuel Cell Seminar & Energy Exposition has rarely ventured into the northern part of the United States.
 
"In the past, the event was always held down south in places like San Antonio, Miami, Palm Springs and Phoenix," says Pat Valente, the executive director of the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition, which is hosting this year's event Oct. 21 through 24 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The group aims to make the most of the opportunity. "We're trying to add a little pizzazz from the way things have been done in the past."
 
Organizers expect more than 1,000 attendees from more than 35 states and 30 countries. The event, which is billed as "Fuel Cells and Natural Gas: Securing America's Energy Future," features an extensive technical program of hydrogen and fuel cell presentations, educational short courses and workshops. More than 200 presentations will delve into the commercialization, research and development, market value propositions, business solutions, and deployments of fuel cells as well as the challenges facing the industry such as costs, storage and reliability. Cost to attend ranges from $350 to $1,050. Early bird registrants save $200 if they sign up before Sept. 30.
 
Unique Columbus highlights include: an evening reception at Huntington Park (home of the Columbus Clippers), which was named Ball Park of the Year in 2009 by Baseballpark.com; the display of the Buckeye Bullet 2, an alternative-fuel race car that was built by Ohio State students and set international speed records in 2009; and a tour of Columbus' research facilities that will include stops at Ohio State's Center for Automotive Research, Battelle's headquarters, Honda's Marysville plant and the Transportation Research Center Inc. in East Liberty.
 
Bill Konstantacos, the Vice President and General Manager of Honda R&D Americas Inc., will serve as the chairman for the event. Valente says 20 percent of the speakers will have ties to Ohio and will include former Ohio Governor Bob Taft, Executive Director of the California Fuel Cell Partnership Catherine Dunwoody, Executive Director of General Motors Powertrain Charlie Freese and Sunita Satyapal, who directs the U.S. Department of Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Office.
 
"I want (attendees) to see what is going on in the Ohio area," Valente says. "It's a real opportunity to showcase the state."

Here is a partial listing of other notable events rounding out Ohio's fall calendar.

TechPint will host a German-style Oktoberfest from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 26 at the historic Sterle's Country House in downtown Cleveland. More than 200 digital entrepreneurs and investors will meet for an evening of speakers, connections and, of course, beer. Presenters include Philip Brennan, CEO of Echogen Power Systems; John Gadd, president and C.E.O. of Hotcards.com; and Kendall Wouters, CEO of Rea.ch Ventures. Tickets are $12, which includes food and drink. Visit TechPint's site for more information and registration.

The Independent Representatives Information Service will host the annual Northeast Ohio Electronic Technology Expo and Symposium on Sept. 24. This free event will be held at the Embassy Suites in Independence and will feature hands-on displays of new products and technologies from exhibitors such as National Instruments, Agilent Technologies, Tektronix and Fluke Corporation. Attendees can earn continuing education credits by participating in select programs. Event and registration details are available online.

The Cleveland Clinic will sponsor the annual Medical Innovation Summit Oct. 14 through 16 at the Global Center for Health Innovation in Cleveland. The theme for the three-day conference is "Finding Balance through Innovation: Obesity, Diabetes and the Metabolic Crisis." Featured speakers include former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini and Co-Chief Scientific Officer for Weight Watchers Gary Foster. Full information is available online. Online registration is $899 through Oct. 11. Onsite registration is $999.

The Entrepreneurs Center will host a series of free New Business Information Sessions for individuals looking to start, buy or expand a small business. Sessions run from 3 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 16, Nov. 20 and Dec. 18 at 714 E. Monument Avenue in Dayton. Each session will include an overview of issues related to starting and operating a business. Register online or call 937.281.0118.

Dominic Frisina, a local patent attorney, will offer a free seminar on innovation and patenting from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 16 at the Akron-Summit Public Library. Frisina, who has worked in the field of patenting as both a lawyer and a scientist, will speak on the commercialization of ideas, as well as issues related to secrecy, prototyping, manufacturing and risk migration. To register, call the library's science and technology division at 330.643.9075 or send an email to stdiv@akronlibrary.org.

The BioOhio Annual Conference, a comprehensive event that covers an array of topics facing the bioscience industry, will be held Nov. 4 and 5 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Dublin. Close to 50 speakers are expected and include Frank Douglas, President and CEO at Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron; James Burns, President and CEO at Assurex Health; Jake Orville, President and CEO at Cleveland HeartLab; and Tanya DiSalvo, President at Criterion Tool.
 
Cost is $375 for BioOhio members, $500 for nonmembers and $125 for students, government employees and job seekers. More information and registration details are available online, including special discount opportunities.

According to a recent study by the credit card spending tracker Bundle, the top 40 of cities that spend the most on video games included Cincinnati, which ranked eighth, while Toledo and Akron clocked in at 15th and 36th, respectively. Hoping to cash in on that trend, the Ohio Game Developer Association will host the Ohio Game Dev Expo on Dec. 7 at the Ohio Union in Columbus. The event will focus on an array of topics such as game design, tools, trends and quality contracts while giving attendees networking opportunities amid other games developers, artists, publishers, entrepreneurs and investors. Registration is $8 through Oct. 31 and $15 afterward.

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