The Center for Entrepreneurship and Engineering Management held its annual Entrepreneurship 101 conference in Corwin Pavilion on Saturday, March 9. About 300 people, ranging from 18-year-old freshmen to 60-year-old businessmen, attended the conference, which centered on the theme “creating value in turbulent times.” Keynote speakers came from major corporations such as Google and Digital Insight.

“Santa Barbara has been stigmatized as a place where you can’t start up a business,” CEEM Director Tim Schwartz said. “We want to promote Santa Barbara as a place where businesses can thrive.”

The first panel of the conference consisted of CEOs Eric Schmidt of Google, Charles Corbalis of Calient Networks, and Robert Deuster of Newport Corporation, who discussed “tough decisions” in business.

They were asked questions about topics ranging from what the next “killer application” for the Internet might be to the virtues of functionality versus advertising.

According to Schmidt, “media plug and play will be the next killer app.,” while Corbalis said, “whatever it is, high schoolers will have something to do with it.”

After the first panel, Guy Kawasaki, CEO of Garage Technology Ventures, gave the conference’s keynote speech on value in turbulent times. He began his speech with an immediate disclaimer.

“By and large, CEOs suck as keynote speakers,” he said. “I use the top 10 format because then, even if you suck, the audience can tell how much longer you’re going to suck for.”

Referring to the conference’s topic of turbulent times, Kawasaki also said the economy has changed its focus from youth to experience.

“We’ve gone from a period of irrational exuberance to a period of irrational depression,” he said.

Attendees left with generally positive reactions while many were attempting to network and interface with others in the business community.

The conference’s Venky Narayanamurti Entrepreneurial Leadership Award was presented by Dean of the College of Engineering Matt Tirrell to Tom Bruggere of Mentor Graphics Corp.

“The point of this award is to honor someone with a direct connection to UCSB,” Tirrell said.

Upon accepting his award, Bruggere advised students to take advantage of “turbulent times.”

“No one’s expecting you to make any money anyway,” he said, “so you may as well go out and try.”