Interview with Jim Schaefer, Los Angeles County Technology Week

Los Angeles County is kicking off a full week of technology related events today, starting with a keynote address from Cisco CEO John Chambers. I talked with Jim Schaefer, who is helping to organize the celebration of technology in LA, to learn more about the series of events.

BK: Jim, what's the purpose of technology week?

JS: Six years ago, the County of Los Angeles completed the Business Technology Center (BTC). Through the BTC, the County was making a statement about its commitment to the growth and development of technology. In addition, technology companies and support services and organizations have flourished throughout the County. Technology companies have become an increasingly critical part of the County's economy.

Los Angeles County Technology Week seeks to highlight the growth and importance of technology to the County. It s goal is to promote additional growth by educating, uniting and attracting key resources throughout Los Angeles County.

BK: How long has LA County been holding these events?

JS: This is the second celebration of Los Angeles County Technology Week.

BK: I see you have John Chambers of Cisco keynoting your kick off--Is there any particular topic John is going to speak about?

JS: John Chambers is the dynamic CEO of Cisco Systems. He will bring his vast experience and past successes into his keynote address to kick-off Technology Week: "Rewiring the 21st Century: Technology is Changing How We Work and Live."

BK: What do you hope to get out of LA Technology week?

JS: Technology Week should help generate both local and national interest in Los Angeles County as an important and growing technology center. Such increased awareness, hopefully, would be translated into investment dollars, more entrepreneurial pursuits and increased management talent brought to the County. In the long run, the County could benefit from better paying jobs, a more highly skilled labor force and a solid economic base.

BK: How many companies are currently being hosted at the BTC, and any particularly successful companies that have graduated from the BTC?

JS: We graduated a number of companies, more than seven including Best Web Buys, SpectraSensors and Hightower Software. More importantly, BTC companies have received over $75 million in Angel and VC funding over the six years we have been in existence. The BTC recently was named a top ten incubator by NBIA for average revenue increase per tenant firm.

BK: What's your own background, and how did you get involved with LA Technology Week?

JS: I am the managing partner of a mid-size CPA firm, Mark Schaefer Associates, located in Arcadia. Bill Lyte was chairman of the Advisory Committee for the Business Technology Center (BTC) prior to its opening. Bill appointed me to be a member of the Advisory Committee over six years ago and got me involved in the financial and mentoring aspects of the Committee for the BTC. Bill and I formed a company, Technology Development Group, and presented the idea of having a Technology Week that would celebrate the anniversary of the BTC and "highlight" the growth of technology companies in Los Angeles County. This is now the second Technology Week that we have managed in conjunction with the BTC.

BK: Where is LA's technology industry today and what are some of the promising areas developing?

JS: The technology industry throughout Los Angeles County has grown significantly. Entrepreneurial business owners of Los Angeles County are working more closely with educational and research institutions to develop and create technology solutions. The result is a large number of new companies with highly innovative and exciting technology products.

For the future, needs for increased security, demands for better health care and competition for better products and services are finding that technology may provide key solutions. These are some of the important areas that Los Angeles County technology companies are focusing their future efforts and resources.

BK: Thanks, and good luck on your events!


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