Durham, N.C. — Outspoken NBA team owner Mark Cuban and a panel of local technology leaders shared thoughts on free enterprise, business and entrepreneurship in Durham Thursday at an event at the American Tobacco Campus.
A morning panel discussion included:
- Mitch Mumma of Durham-based venture capital firm Intersouth Partners
- Rich Lee, CEO of Hosted Solutions, which provides web hosting and data management services
- Aaron Houghton, co-founder of e-mail marketing firm iContact
- Mike Doernberg, CEO of ReverbNation, which provides marketing and distribution support for musicians and performance venues
- Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and HDNet, an independent, all-high-definition network of programming and movies.
Cuban is an all-star in the fields of technology and investing. He made his first billions from the sale of his start-up, Broadcast.com, to Yahoo! in 1999. He started that venture to offer live streaming of audio and video of sporting events over the Internet.
The 250 attendees at Thursday’s event hoped to learn from the innovative successes of the members of the panel and take away ideas for the ever-elusive “next big thing.”
The panel agreed that it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur, and it takes focus and passion to create a successful business. The majority of the panelists see work force talent as the biggest obstacle.
Other points of interest during the discussion included the role of social media, the role of legislation in supporting the investor community.
The panelists also answered questions from the audience – some of them personal – about their use of technology and adoption of new gadgets.
The panel pointed to the expansion of networked living as the natural progression of consumer technology. They identified “smart” power grids and energy as areas of interest for investors. Cuban added mobile technology and personalized medicine as other items to keep an eye on.
In a keynote address after lunch, Cuban offered his typical a no-holds-barred approach to his work ethic and business approach. He said the No. 1 rule to running a successful business is sales. “Sales cures all,” he said.
"I picture him as the Richard Branson of America,” said Scott Kelly, vice president of investment banking at KeySource Bank.
Kelly and his colleagues attended Thursday’s event to tap into Cuban’s recipe for success.
"We want to learn how to do that. We want to learn how to grow companies,” he said.
They are in great position to do so, Cuban said. "Raleigh, Durham, Winston-Salem and the area really has that special kind of energy."
Noah Garrett contributed to this report.