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Apple co-founder Wozniak to address startups in Charlotte

The CIAA has reportedly drawn more than 800,000 fans and alumni to Charlotte since 2006, and it is considered the city’s largest annual convention. Small-business owners can play an active role this year at a breakfast designed to connect them with CIAA executives.
The CIAA has reportedly drawn more than 800,000 fans and alumni to Charlotte since 2006, and it is considered the city’s largest annual convention. Small-business owners can play an active role this year at a breakfast designed to connect them with CIAA executives. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

▪ Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is coming to Charlotte to deliver a keynote address on the last day of what’s been touted as the largest gathering of startups and investors in the region.

Wozniak, often called “Woz,” is a Silicon Valley tycoon and electrical engineer credited with founding Apple Computer Inc. with Steve Jobs in 1976. He is a confirmed speaker at this year’s Southeast Venture Conference, an assembly of top venture capitalists and private investors waiting for a chance to pour their money into hopeful tech companies.

The conference, in its ninth year, will be held at the Le Meridien hotel March 31-April 1 and is expected to draw more than 600 startup founders, tech scouts and Fortune 500 executives. It coincides with the Charlotte Venture Challenge, a startup pitch competition that has drawn more than 200 early-stage companies in the past.

The conference was last in Charlotte in 2013. Other guests confirmed this year include Scott Kupor, managing partner at California venture capitalist firm Andreessen Horowitz, and Louis Foreman, CEO of Charlotte-based Edison Nation.

Wozniak will speak at 12:30 p.m. on April 1. Anyone interested in attending the conference can register at http://seventure.org/.

▪ Small and minority-business owners who want a stake in the CIAA basketball tournament can eat breakfast with the commissioner, schmooze with City Council members and hear what the century-old historically black conference can do for them.

Heirs of Legends Media, a media company, is organizing “Breakfast Conversations @ CIAA,” a breakfast for entrepreneurs and minority business owners who want to rub elbows with CIAA decision-makers.

Antriece Mitchell, Heirs of Legends Media CEO, said she wanted to give small-business owners a chance to connect with the tournament’s executives. Eric Watson, president of the Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council, is expected to attend. CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams is expected to discuss CIAA’s plans as it moves its headquarters to Charlotte this year.

“They’re going to have outsourcing needs,” she said. “I felt it was my duty to pull this event together so small-business and minority-business owners can meet and greet with leaders … they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity.”

The breakfast will start at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 24 at Extravaganza on 1610 N. Tryon St. Tickets for business owners are $45, while VIP tickets cost $90. Attendees should register by Feb. 20. Buy tickets at www.heirsoflegends.com/#ciaa-breakfast-2015/c21r4.

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