YouTube, Geek Squad, Funco and Split Rock founders talk about entrepreneurship today

YouTube, Geek Squad, Funco and Split Rock founders talk about entrepreneurship today

Four highly successful entrepreneurs, all Minnesota natives whose companies are known around the world, will participate in a panel discussion that will focus on start-up practices for rapid-growth business ventures.

The panel discussion, “From the Napkin to the Sale,” will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. today, March 26, in the auditorium of Schulze Hall on the downtown Minneapolis campus of the University of St. Thomas. A question-and-answer session will follow the panel presentation.

Free and open to the public, the event is sponsored by the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship at the Opus College of Business.

The four panelists are:

Jawed Karim (YouTube): A 1997 graduate of St. Paul Central High School, Karim co-founded YouTube in 2005 to enable individuals worldwide to broadcast themselves. YouTube was named Time Magazine’s "Invention of the Year" and is one of the fastest-growing Web sites in the history of the Internet. It is ranked among the top-five-most-popular Web sites in the world.

Prior to YouTube, Karim was one of the earliest engineers at PayPal, the world's largest online payment service, where he implemented its first real-time anti-fraud systems. Currently a graduate student in computer science at Stanford University and an investor in early-stage startups, Karim will discuss the main factors driving the explosive growth of consumer Internet applications, and how to take advantage of them.

Robert Stephens (Geek Squad): After launching quirky computer repair company Geek Squad with $200 as a college student in 1994, Stephens sold to Best Buy in 2002, making Geek Squad North America's largest technology support company offering phone, in-store and in-home support. Now serving as a vice president within Best Buy, Stephens will discuss the acquisition process from an entrepreneur’s perspective, including the opportunities such a merger can offer for a fast-growth company.

David Pomije (Funco Inc.): Founder of video-game retailer Funco Inc., Pomije has a history of leading and investing in fast-growth entrepreneurship. The former CEO of Burnsville-based BCD Capital Inc., Pomije was highly involved in the recent development of DigitalTown, an online social network for high school students and alumni. He will speak to the growing trend in education-focused ventures, and why this niche is attracting attention among current and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Michael Gorman (Split Rock Partners): Longstanding venture capitalist and founding managing director of the venture-capital firm Split Rock Partners, Gorman will discuss when and how he invests in Midwest companies and what he counsels entrepreneurs to do to convert ideas into viable companies.

While the event is free and open to the public, prospective and current business students will receive priority seating. Invitations to the speech should be requested by writing to