published on November 14, 2016 - 10:48 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

California Controller Betty Yee and Fred Ruiz, chairman emeritus of Ruiz Foods, are among the keynote speakers scheduled for the Central Valley Venture Forum, taking place Nov. 3 in Clovis.

The annual event is a collaboration between the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Craig School of Business at Fresno State and the Central Valley Fund.
Yee, who defeated Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin in the 2014 race for the controller office, will deliver the luncheon keynote address “The State of the State: 2016 California Business & 2017 Business Forecast & Beyond.”
Ruiz will share his success story building a business from a garage in Dinuba into Ruiz Foods, the largest Hispanic frozen food manufacturer in the United States. The session will be hosted interview-style with several audience questions.
The day will also feature a variety of panels, with a morning session featuring Central Valley business leaders and CEOs in the areas of agriculture and technology. Also highlighted will be the topic of growing a world-class business in the Central Valley, and California/Mexico Trade: How Your Firm Can Export to Mexico. The session “Life or Death by PowerPoint” will give attendees guidance on their pitch decks at every stage of the funding level.
“Presenters will include public policy leaders, angel investors, venture capitalists, Central Valley entrepreneurs, business owners, lawyers, accountants, bankers, and community leaders. We have an action-packed day filled with some of the most successful business leaders in California exploring best practices, shared advice and insight into how to navigate and survive as an entrepreneur or business owner in the Central Valley”, said Dr. Robert Harper, dean of Craig School of Business.
Five new or early-stage businesses will present in front of attendees to a panel of investors and compete for best in show of the Valley Entrepreneur Showcase. Businesses interested in participating are welcome to apply on
“This conference is a powerful, yet informal, setting that will give entrepreneurs the tools to thrive in our fast-paced and ever-changing economy,” Harper said. “We’ve seen several companies make valuable connections, raise capital and discover tips on business success to catapult their business forward.”
Individual tickets, which include a continental breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon reception, are $65 before Nov. 1, and $75 after. Students can attend for $25.
The event is being held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Clovis Memorial District Auditorium in Clovis.

‘Workspace’ to debut in Downtown Fresno
Workspace, the 13,000 square-foot collaborative office space on the third and fourth floor of Downtown Fresno’s Pacific Southwest Building, is hosting an invitation-only opening Nov. 2.
Sevak Kachadurian, owner of the Pacific Southwest Building, teamed with local tech entrepreneur Matt Tymn to create Workspace, billed as a place designed to bring together “creators, collaborators and dreamers.”
“Workspace aims to spawn innovation by bringing together creative minds from different types of industries to work and share ideas,” Kachadurian told The Business Journal last year. “Ultimately, it is a collaboration among experts from unique markets who foster innovation and pave the way for growth in downtown Fresno.”
Tymn said his own tech company, One Sense, would be among the first to move into Workspace’s third floor office.

Some buyers call ‘Flip or Flop’’ stars’ classes misleading
(AP) — For Doug Stephens, the free event seemed like a good way to learn how to flip homes. An online ad for the December gathering sported pictures of Tarek and Christina El Moussa, the stars of HGTV’s “Flip or Flop” who buy rundown homes, renovate them and try to sell them for a profit. Stephens watched “Flip or Flop” regularly, along with 2.8 million other Americans, so he went.
The El Moussas, however, did not show up. In a prerecorded video, the couple told attendees that they were busy working and filming their show. Undeterred, Stephens paid $1,997 for three days of classes and $1,000 for real estate software. But the classes turned into a sales pitch to buy additional courses that cost thousands more, said Stephens, a pastor and teacher from Havana, Florida.
“They weren’t really teaching at all,” he said.
The El Moussas, like many reality TV stars before them, are capitalizing on their fame by offering pricy classes. At free events in hotel ballrooms, instructors tell attendees that if they pay to enroll in three-day courses, they’ll learn how the couple flips homes and also gain access to investors who will give them cash to buy properties, even if they have low credit scores or a weak job history. They’ll earn back their money quickly, the instructors say, and will get refunds if they don’t flip a home within a certain amount of time.
But about a dozen people interviewed by The Associated Press said those promises did not pan out. Although class leaders offered some instruction, a lot of time was spent pushing them to buy more classes, they said; some complained that getting refunds for the sessions was difficult.
The classes featuring the El Moussas are run by Zurixx LLC, an education company based in Utah. Zurixx has partnered with other reality TV stars to create education programs under different names, some of which also have been the subject of complaints from students. A section of Zurixx’s website that listed its programs and the reality stars it works with disappeared as the AP reported this story. The company said it is continually updating its website.
Last year, Zurixx brought in $130.1 million in total revenue, the company told Inc. magazine. The El Moussas’ program, Success Path Education, is Zurixx’s most popular and the couple receives a percentage of the Success Path classes sold, the company said.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which aims to protect consumers against unfair or deceptive business practices, has received 50 complaints about classes connected to Zurixx since 2013, according to documents reviewed by the AP. And in May, the Better Business Bureau office of St. Louis warned people about Success Path events in the city, citing the more than 150 complaints it received about classes related to the company.
Zurixx said the complaints represent a tiny percentage of the more than 370,000 people who have attended its events and the 75,000 who have paid for its products. The company said that nearly all its students have filled out positive evaluations about the classes and the company provided copies of more than 2,300 of those evaluations. It also said that it does not mislead people or push attendees to buy additional classes.

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