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Big Business and Technology Expo in Orem fosters ideas to fight the economy's sinking ship

Tracy Burnham, left, and Chris Yadon play rock-paper-scissors at the Big Business and Technology Expo on Wednesday.
Tracy Burnham, left, and Chris Yadon play rock-paper-scissors at the Big Business and Technology Expo on Wednesday.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

OREM — The recession is clearly bad news for some, but if you've got imagination, energy and the right business approach, it can spell opportunity, five successful Utah entrepreneurs agreed during a panel discussion at the two-day Big Business and Technology Expo.

"It's not a recession for good ideas and innovation," said Michael Alvarez of Avantar.

Recession is part of the American business cycle, said Brian Ford, entrepreneur and author. His company, 8 Pillars, has done fine, he noted. "My guess is we're all going to do just fine. … The best years are ahead of us if we learn from our mistakes."

That view was echoed by the other panelists, including Ryan Caldwell of Entice Labs, Kris Krohn of Real Estate Investors Club and Garrett B. Gunderson, entrepreneur and coauthor of "Killing Sacred Cows."

While Caldwell noted the "huge benefit" his company has reaped from the recession, Krohn characterized the economic downturn as a "beautiful opportunity to clean up" businesses and practices that perhaps shouldn't survive but sometimes do in good economic times.

They also answered questions about their very different styles of corporate communication. Gunderson, for instance, shuns e-mail, while Krohn and Caldwell embrace it. Alvarez said he has trouble setting boundaries.

"You have to use technology to your advantage," said Ford, who breaks action into "doables" and "deliverables." With the former, "I'm checking e-mail, (so) I think I'm busy," while the latter actually delivers results, he said.

The expo, which ran Tuesday and Wednesday at Utah Valley University's event center, drew hundreds of participants and dozens of exhibitors who networked, looked at products and ideas, and listened to discussions related to business success. And they capped off the event Wednesday afternoon with a rock-paper-scissors battle that had 16 combatants and a sweet prize: The winner of the single-elimination tournament got to haul away a baby grand piano.

e-mail: lois@desnews.com