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Marshall’s E2 Conference Brought Entertainment Titans to USC

Ashley Riegle |
March 8, 2013 | 2:36 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

(Courtesy of Ashley Riegle)
(Courtesy of Ashley Riegle)

In a full ballroom at USC’s Town and Gown, a diverse crowd gathered to discuss the intersection of business and entertainment in late February. It’s an important topic in this hometown of Hollywood, and the forum participants treated it as such. This group was a mixture of students and professionals who gathered for the fifth annual E2: Evolution of Entertainment Conference under the theme, “Disruptors in Media and Entertainment”. 

During a panel entitled, “Hollywood Invades Silicon Beach” four entertainment leaders discussed the relevancy of innovation in business. Of the four executives on the stage- two were women, a welcome observation in an industry that still skews male in the C-suite. 
The panelists agreed there is a value in having Silicon Valley thinkers interact with Hollywood and the so-called “Silicon Beach” that is emerging as tech companies set up shop in Venice and other LA communities. 
There was discussion about the importance of technology engineering advancements- those that play on the strengths of innovators and creative thinkers. Augmented reality was a topic also mentioned multiple times in the course of the day.
The adoption of technology is changing the opportunity landscape, the panelists agreed, with mobile advertising proliferating.
“Mobile for me is the most exciting disruption,” said Lisa Raggiri, president of Pokeware. “Mobile is so close and so personal to people. We will definitely shop more with our mobile phones.”
Raggiri cited recent profits by Amazon and Yahoo from mobile purchases, indicating a trend in consumer behavior.
By all accounts, TV advertising is still incredibly lucrative for those who are working in that industry. 
Looking outside the US, the use of mobile is extraordinary. Statistics about mobile users in Brazil is growing exponentially.
“The most important screen near us during any given day is your cellphone. It’s the most important screen in your life,” said Diego Berdakin, President & Co-founder of BeachMint.
It didn’t take long into the day’s conversations to here a common word in relation to mobile, innovation, diversification, and that word is: Money. The conversation frequently came back to money in this business-centric setting. That age-old “bottom line”.
One audience member asked about the role of relationships and whether they are truly valuable to success in business. “If you want to be an entrepreneur and innovate in the entertainment businesses, relationships are invaluable because most stakeholders are not incentivized to take risks with a new idea. You will inevitably need to maximize your relationships to get others to believe in your idea - whether it’s pitching a new story or getting distribution with a cable operator,” said Cristina Patwa, president of FactoryMade Ventures.

The 2013 E2 Conference boasted a robust turnout at USC's Town and Gown. (Courtesy of Ashley Riegle)
The 2013 E2 Conference boasted a robust turnout at USC's Town and Gown. (Courtesy of Ashley Riegle)

Somewhere along the line the question was posed: what makes an entrepreneur and business leader successful? The answer kept coming back to a few key items: the importance of confidence, drive and having a smart, supporting team around you.
“If you can be talked out of being an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur,” said Jeff Eddings, Sr. Director of Emerging Technology at Turner Broadcasting.
Matt Anderson serves as the current president of Marshall’s BEA. He says the purpose of E2 in addition to creating a forum to discuss the latest trends in the entertainment industry is to provide valuable networking opportunities for students at Marshall, all of USC's schools, and friends at UCLA, Pepperdine, and other Southern California universities.
Approximately 230 people attended this year, up from about 125 attendees in 2012, according to organizers. This year the breakdown between professionals and students was about 65% students and 35% professionals.
“We believe that we accomplished what we set out to do and with all of this positive momentum, we are confident that next year will be even better,” said Anderson.
To learn more about the annual E2 conference, click here.

Reach Staff Reporter Ashley Riegle here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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