Jennifer Owens, Ann Arbor SPARK’s vice president for business development, is charged with overseeing the organization’s efforts to attract and retain new businesses to the Ann Arbor region.  Over this week, Owens is on a mission trip to California, meeting with companies with interests in Ann Arbor, companies that are looking for a high tech community to expand or locate as well as with University of Michigan graduates who have started a business on the west coast. We asked her to share her experiences with GLITR’s readers.

A sushi bar in my hotel lobby and a jam-packed fitness center at 5:30 a.m., I am definitely in California.  Day one starts off with a bang with an enlightening coffee discussion with former technology CEO and now entrepreneurial coach —  Marylene Delbourg-Delphis .  Delbourg-Delphis was one of the first female CEOs in Silicon Valley in the early 80s.  She co-founded 4th Dimension, one of the first relationship database management systems.   While at 4th Dimension, she was successful in recruiting Guy Kawasakiaway from Apple to run the company.  Now spending her time coaching other start-ups on everything from sales pitches to negotiating contracts, Delbourg-Delphis is ready to give back to the Ann Arbor region.  As a University of Michigan Musical Society board member, she has been wowed by the region’s cultural amenities.  Be prepared for Delbourg-Delphis to share her seeds of wisdom with our region’s budding entrepreneurs on her next trip in October. 

My next stop was a luncheon with two heavy hitters, Jeff Jordon, the CEO of Open Table  and John Donahoe, the CEO of eBay.  Both had very little exposure to the Ann Arbor region and were interested in learning more about the abundance of technical talent and resources at the University of Michigan.  Thanks to Stunning Creative for making this meeting a reality.  Tonight will conclude with a gathering of 30 bay area CEOs.  I can’t wait to share with them our region’s value proposition as well as learn from their experiences and challenges.  I will be sure to fill you in on the dinner table conversation on Thursday.

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